Friday, April 7, 2017

4/7 Ericksen, Vic sewer, dairy poop, lead paint, BC spill, oil train risks, salmon bends, TNT layoffs, methanol, seastars

(The real) Pacific Spiny Dogfish [Doug Costas, NOAA]
Pacific Spiny Dogfish, Squalus suckleyi
Reader Gene Helfman, Professor Emeritus at the Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, gently points out that, "in the interest of taxonomic accuracy, I am forced to correct an entry in the April 3rd, 2017, post.  Your Spiny Dogfish is not a Spiny Dogfish.  My best guess, after contacting someone more knowledgeable (and I have written a shark book, Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide, Hopkins Press) is your photo is of a Brown Smooth-hound  Mustelus henlei.  M. henlei doesn’t occur in the Salish Sea, its northern limit being northern California (the kelp bed in the photo also suggests it’s from CA).  Your shark lacks dorsal spines and has an anal fin, characters the entry notes in the description. Plus it doesn’t look like a Spiny Dogfish, the correct names of which, in our waters, are Pacific Spiny Dogfish, Squalus suckleyi (“our” species was separated from the Atlantic Spiny Dogfish in 2010; don’t you love taxonomists)." Thank you, Gene: we love taxonomists. And thank you for the photo by Doug Costa of Squalus suckleyi. [for more, see end of this day’s posting.]

Jobs in Legislature, Trump administration add up to big payday for state Sen. Doug Ericksen 
State Sen. Doug Ericksen, who since January has juggled his legislative duties with a job in the Trump administration, has collected nearly $6,000 from the state in daily living expenses so far during the legislative session. Ericksen, R-Ferndale, has been splitting his time between Olympia and Washington, D.C., where the administration appointed him to a temporary job at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). An early Trump supporter, Ericksen in January became a communications manager for the EPA’s transition team, while continuing his work as a legislator…. Ericksen is drawing his $46,839 a year legislative salary while also earning $77.58 an hour at the EPA, according to an EPA earnings statement. If he were to work full time at the EPA, while maintaining his role as a legislator, his combined pay would exceed $200,000 annually. State records show that Ericksen has claimed his $120 daily allowance for expenses — known as a per diem — for most of the weeks so far in the legislative session. The expenses total $5,880 since Jan. 9, the opening day of session, according to records from Senate administration. Joseph O'Sullivan reports. (Seattle Times)

$272-million contract award for McLoughlin sewage plant, up $37 million
The contract to build the McLoughlin Point sewage-treatment plant has been awarded to the same consortium that was selected for the job in 2014, before that project collapsed. And it will cost another $37 million. Harbour Resource Partners, which includes AECOM Canada, Graham Infrastructure and Michels Canada, will be working on a $272-million contract — part of the overall $765-million initiative to have treated sewage by the end of 2020. With changes such as the addition of tertiary treatment, this year’s HRP proposal costs more than the one submitted three years ago. Jeff Bell reports. (Times Colonist)

Newhouse bill would exempt dairy manure from waste regulations, ban some citizen lawsuits
A congressional bill that would prevent animal manure from being regulated under federal solid waste regulations has farmers hopeful and environmentalists concerned. Introduced by Rep. Dan Newhouse, the bill, H.R. 848, would clearly exempt animal and crop waste and fertilizer from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA. Newhouse contends a federal judge’s 2015 ruling that Yakima Valley dairies violated solid waste regulations for managing manure misinterpreted the act. Congress never intended the act to govern animal or crop waste, manure or fertilizer, according to Newhouse. Phil Ferolito reports. (Yakima Herald-Republic)

Trump's EPA moves to defund programs that protect children from lead-based paint
Environmental Protection Agency officials are proposing to eliminate two programs focused on limiting children's exposure to lead-based paint - which is known to cause damage to developing brains and nervous systems. The proposed cuts, outlined in a 64 page budget memo revealed by The Washington Post on Friday, would roll back programs aimed at reducing lead risks by $16.61 million and more than 70 employees, in line with a broader project by the Trump administration to devolve responsibility for environmental and health protection to state and local governments. Old housing stock is the biggest risk for lead exposure - and the EPA estimates that 38 million U.S. homes contain lead-based paint. Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin report. (Washington Post)

Nathan E. Stewart incident shows Canada's spill response lacking, First Nation says 
A First Nation in northern B.C. is calling the government out on its handling of a fuel spill near Bella Bella last year. In a new report on the first 48 hours of the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart in October 2016, the Heiltsuk Nation says the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), the Coast Guard and the owners of the vessel, the Kirby Corporation, repeatedly refused to provide the nation with information about the spill. The report also says many aspects of the spill response were inadequate, including slow response time, insufficient and ineffective equipment, a lack of safety gear, and confusion about who was in charge. Matt Meuse reports. (CBC)

Thousands of defects found on oil train routes
Government inspections of railroads that haul volatile crude oil across the United States have uncovered almost 24,000 safety defects, including problems similar to those blamed in derailments that triggered massive fires or oil spills in Oregon, Virginia, Montana and elsewhere, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The safety defects were discovered during targeted federal inspections on almost 58,000 miles of oil train routes in 44 states. The inspection program began two years ago following a string of oil train accidents across North America, including a 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people. Federal regulators said the inspections resulted in 1,118 violation recommendations, prompting railroads to become more responsive to concerns raised by track inspectors and to improve safety. Matthew Brown reports. (Associated Press)

Young salmon risk ‘gas bubble trauma’ on trip to ocean
Young salmon and steelhead migrating from the Columbia River Basin in unusually high flows face a potentially lethal problem in spillways at dams where increased nitrogen in the water can cause tissue-damaging trauma. However, managers of fisheries say special features at dams meant to reduce nitrogen will help the fish make it to the ocean, and survival should be about average based on previous high-flow years. Like natural waterfalls, a dam’s spillway increases dissolved gas, including nitrogen, in water when it smashes into other water below. The nitrogen can cause bubbles to form inside fish, similar to the condition that human divers experience when they get the bends. Keith Ridler reports. (Associated Press)

Pheromones may help foil reef-killing starfish
A starfish considered a key threat to international coral reefs could be thwarted by harnessing its own pheromones, scientists say. The crown-of-thorns starfish has ravaged Australia's Great Barrier Reef by smothering and eating coral tissue. Researchers believe the pest could be lured for removal by fabricating the chemicals it uses to attract a mate. The study unmasks how the species congregates in huge swarms, the Australian and Japanese team said. (BBC)

Tacoma’s News Tribune to cut jobs as top editor quits
Tacoma’s News Tribune, Washington’s second largest newspaper and a fixture in the Puget Sound region for more than a century, is preparing for job cuts in the newsroom. Its top editor, Karen Peterson, is leaving as well. Several staffers in the newsroom said that during an emotional meeting with top editors Wednesday, they were told to prepare for at least 10 job cuts. It’s not clear yet if the reductions would be made through voluntary buyouts or layoffs, or a combination of the two, and how the cuts might affect the News Tribune’s smaller sister paper, The Olympian, which shares resources with the Tacoma paper. Mike Rosenberg reports. (Seattle Times)

Opponents Aim To Block State Funding For Methanol Plant
Opponents of a methanol refinery proposed on the Columbia River say Washington is poised to spend $12 million in public funds to help build the controversial plant. They sent a letter to Washington lawmakers Thursday asking them to block that spending because it would pay for a dock and a road needed by methanol project developer Northwest Innovation Works. The Chinese-backed company has proposed a $1.8 billion methanol plant at the Port of Kalama that would convert natural gas to methanol, which would then be shipped overseas to be made into plastic. If built as proposed, it would be the largest facility of its kind. Cassandra Profita reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

And here’s more on Pacific Spiny Dogfish:
* The West Coast population of PSD has been estimated at around 2 billion.  PSD plus Spiny Dogfish are the most abundant sharks in the world.
* In our northern waters, PSD live to be over 100 years old (competing with several rockfish), don't mature until they're 30 years old, give birth to 10-20 live young, and have a gestation period of 2 years, the longest of any known vertebrate.
* Because of their old age and predatory diet, they're loaded with mercury.  NMFS advise against eating them, although they are caught in large numbers, processed (at least previously at a plant in Fairhaven), and shipped overseas where they constitute a major component in fish and chips (labeled as "gray fish"). [Thanks, Gene Helfman!]

Now, your weekend tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-  302 AM PDT FRI APR 7 2017  

GALE WARNING IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS EVENING
 
TODAY
 SE WIND 25 TO 35 KT. COMBINED SEAS 6 TO 9 FT WITH A  DOMINANT PERIOD OF 12 SECONDS. RAIN IN THE MORNING THEN SHOWERS IN  THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
 SE WIND 30 TO 40 KT BECOMING SW 25 TO 35 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. COMBINED SEAS 11 TO 13 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF  11 SECONDS BUILDING TO 14 TO 16 FT WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF  11 SECONDS AFTER MIDNIGHT. SHOWERS.
SAT
 SW WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. SW SWELL 12 FT  AT 11 SECONDS SUBSIDING TO 10 FT AT 10 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON.  SHOWERS.
SAT NIGHT
 W WIND 10 TO 20 KT BECOMING SW TO 10 KT AFTER  MIDNIGHT. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT SUBSIDING TO 1 FT OR LESS AFTER  MIDNIGHT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 10 SECONDS.
SUN
 SE WIND 10 TO 20 KT RISING TO 15 TO 25 KT IN THE  AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 1 TO 3 FT BUILDING TO 2 TO 4 FT IN THE  AFTERNOON. W SWELL 7 FT AT 10 SECONDS BUILDING TO SW 10 FT AT 10  SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON.

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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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