WASHINGTON DEPT. OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Olympia Seeks Answers - And Maybe A Ban - On Atlantic Salmon Farms

Officials with the company that spilled nearly 160,000 Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound in August say there has been no evidence the spill has done damage to the sound. State officials agreed with that assessment at a legislative hearing in Olympia.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Starting June 10th, police officers in Washington will be able to pull over drivers who've got a cell phone pressed to their ear. Same goes for people who text while behind the wheel. Governor Chris Gregoire [today] Friday signed legislation making it a primary offense.

Starting next year, some of the trash you toss out may end up in gas tanks instead of buried at a large regional landfill in eastern Oregon. 

This project is a joint venture between landfill operator Waste Management Inc. and a small engineering company based in Bend called InEnTec. The partners announced they'll build their first waste-to-energy plant at the big landfill near Arlington, Oregon. The planned facility will vaporize trash in a very high temperature melter. Spokeswoman Jackie Lang says the resulting superheated gases can then be recombined to make synthetic fuel.

Democratic Senator Patty Murray had tough words Thursday for federal Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. She's angry over the decision by the Obama Administration to take Nevada's Yucca Mountain off the table as a possible nuclear waste storage site. Murray says that decision could push back cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Or she says it could mean Hanford becomes a permanent storage site for dangerous nuclear waste.

Photo taken by the Department of Ecology for Washington State

The lack of snow pack this winter in the Northwest could spell problems for irrigators. That is especially true in areas that have had long term problems with water supply, like the Yakima basin.

The Yakima basin is an agricultural region that has dealt with water shortages for many years. The U.S. bureau of Reclamation serves several irrigation districts in the region, but while much of the water comes from the Yakima River, Reclamation spokeswoman Wendy Christiansen says a good portion is dependent on mountain snow pack.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The water system is sick in a huge swath of Eastern Washington -- from Union Gap near Yakima to Benton City near the Tri-Cities. State and federal officials announced Thursday that much of the ground water in the lower valley is dangerous to drink. Correspondent Anna King reports. 

The Yakima Valley is like a multi layered cake punched with a network of drinking straws. There are irrigation drainage pipes, farm canals, deep wells, really old shallow wells, aquifers and rivers all coming. Somehow lots of nitrates and bacteria are getting into the ground water.

HAMBURG, Germany – It's no accident that roughly half of the world's installed solar panels aim at the sky in this relatively cloudy, northern country. Investors in German solar power arrays, wind farms and methane digesters can count on significantly higher rates-of-return than alternative investments such as bonds or savings accounts.

OLYMPIA, Wash. --Millions of Northwest electricity customers have the option to pay a little bit extra on their monthly bills to support “green energy.” In the coming years, that voluntary option could take a back seat to a mandatory, but invisible charge on electric bills. Policymakers along the West Coast are working on a new green energy incentive. It relies not on tax dollars, as is traditional, but rather on ratepayer dollars. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on how it would work.

What do Nike, R-E-I, the Vancouver Olympics, and the Washington State government have in common? They've all promised to eliminate their impact on the climate by going 'carbon-neutral'. R-E-I aims to have zero output of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide by the year 2020. But since REI set the zero-impact goal, its emissions have been heading rapidly in the opposite direction.

What do Nike, R-E-I, the Vancouver Olympics, and the Washington State government have in common? They've all promised to eliminate their impact on the climate by going 'carbon-neutral'. R-E-I aims to have zero output of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide by the year 2020. But since REI set the zero-impact goal, its emissions have been heading rapidly in the opposite direction.

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu named a blue ribbon panel Friday to find a final resting spot for the nation's nuclear waste and spent fuel. It has just two years to come up with an alternative to Nevada's Yucca Mountain. As Richland Correspondent Anna King reports, the commission's findings have big implications for how the Hanford Nuclear Reservation deals with its high-level radioactive sludge. 

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