Thursday, October 27, 2016

10/27 Seastar wipeout, coal dust, geoduck farm, bag ban, Whatcom water, western toads, bad fishing, Navy toxins

Sunflower sea star (Dave Cowles, July 2000)
Sunflower sea star nearly wiped out by virus in B.C., Washington waters: report
There was once a galaxy of sunflower sea stars in the Salish Sea off the British Columbia and Washington state coasts, but a new study says their near disappearance from the ocean floor should be of special concern. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, say a wasting disease that impacted many star fish from Alaska to Mexico was devastating for the sunflower sea star. Joseph Gaydose, one of the report's authors and the chief scientist with the SeaDoc Society, said the sunflower that covered the ocean floor in many areas off southern Vancouver Island and Washington state has been virtually wiped out. (Canadian Press)

Is coal dust from BNSF trains harming waterways? Trial set for next month
A federal judge in Seattle has found that BNSF Railway could be held liable in a lawsuit claiming that coal spilled from trains pollutes waterways if environmental groups can show at trial that such discharges actually occurred. Ruling in the case brought by seven environmental groups against the railroad, U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour said Tuesday that coal particles and dust that fall directly into waterways from passing trains are “point sources” of pollution under the federal Clean Water Act. However, Coughenour declined to immediately find BNSF liable for any violations, saying significant facts remain in dispute. He denied requests from both sides for summary judgment and set the case for a Nov. 7 trial. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Burley geoduck plan draws opposition
…. About 110 people attended a Tuesday evening meeting about Taylor's plan to convert an existing commercial clam and oyster bed into one of the region's largest geoduck-growing operations…. Taylor, the state's largest shellfish grower, currently "scatter seeds" the lagoon, a practice that requires less gear than intensive geoduck farming. Under Taylor's plan, about 25 acres of tideland would be covered in a grid of plastic tubes planted with geoduck, a large and long-lived clam that can sell for more than $100 per pound in Asia. The tubes and protective netting covering them would dramatically increase visual and environmental impacts, according to residents and groups opposed to the plan. Tristan Baurick reports. (Kitsap Sun)

County-wide bag ban approved
The San Juan County Council adopted the single-use plastic carry-out bag ban during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25. (Journal of the San Juans)

Whatcom County temporarily halts work on new developments that depend on rural wells
Whatcom County has temporarily stopped accepting and processing new applications and permits for developments that depend on so-called exempt wells in light of an Oct. 6 state Supreme Court ruling against the county….  The County Council voted 6-1 late Tuesday, Oct. 25, to enact the emergency moratorium.… The council essentially agreed with county planners that more time was needed to evaluate what they called a surprising decision by the court and to come up with the next steps. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

State board rules in favor of Island County’s western toads
Island County needs to do a better job of protecting the western toad, a state board has ruled. The Growth Management Hearings Board again found the county’s comprehensive plan out of compliance with state rules regarding habitat protection of the western toad, which is a candidate for listing as a state species of concern. It’s the second time that the hearings board sided with the environmental group, Whidbey Environmental Action Network, or WEAN, over the toad issue. The hearings board ruled in the county’s favor on three other issues that WEAN challenged, finding that the county’s new protections for the “natural area preserve,” rare plants and prairies are adequate. Jessie Stensland reports. (Whidbey News-Times)

West Coast Fisheries Hit Hard By Poor Ocean Conditions
United States commercial fisheries are doing fine overall, but fishermen on the West Coast are hurting.  An 2015 annual report out Wednesday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a stark fall-off in the big seafood money-makers in the Pacific Northwest…. NOAA Fisheries scientists are attributing the low West Coast returns to abnormal conditions in the Pacific that are linked to climate change.  Jes Burns reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Navy Admits to Having Released Chemicals Known to Injure Infants' Brains
For decades, the US Navy, by its own admission, has been conducting war game exercises in US waters using bombs, missiles, sonobuoys (sonar buoys), high explosives, bullets and other materials that contain toxic chemicals -- including lead and mercury -- that are harmful to both humans and wildlife. The Navy's 2015 Northwest Training and Testing environmental impact statement (EIS) states that in the thousands of warfare "testing and training events" it conducts each year, 200,000 "stressors" from the use of missiles, torpedoes, guns and other explosive firings in US waters happen biennially. Sonobuoys, which weigh from 36 to 936 pounds apiece and many of which can contain up to five pounds of explosives, are dropped from aircraft and never recovered; they're called "expended materials." The Navy is planning to increase its sonobuoy use from 20 to 720 annually, according to its Northwest Training and Testing 2014 document. This steep increase could have devastating impacts for humans. Dahr Jamail reports. (Truthout)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  300 AM PDT THU OCT 27 2016  

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 AM PDT THIS MORNING
 
TODAY
 SW WIND 15 TO 25 KT BECOMING S 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON.  WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT SUBSIDING TO 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 10 FT AT 10  SECONDS SUBSIDING TO 7 FT AT 10 SECONDS. SHOWERS.  TONIGHT  E WIND 5 TO 15 KT BECOMING SE 10 TO 20 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT.  WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT. W SWELL 7 FT AT 12 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY.

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