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Hanford Safety Hearing
4:21 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Hearing Focuses On Progress Of Hanford's Safety Culture

Chairman of the DNFSB Peter S. Winokur presides over a hearing on the safety culture at Hanford.
Photo courtesy DNFSB video

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant is making progress on improving its safety culture. That’s the upshot of a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C. before a federal nuclear watchdog agency. But not everyone familiar with the nuclear site agreed with that positive assessment.

The Department of Energy and its Hanford contractors have been under intense scrutiny after several whistleblowers and federal investigators found a “flawed” safety culture at the nuclear site. The hearing at the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board was a progress report.

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Washington Floods Book
5:31 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Northwest Author Focuses New Book On The Northern Reaches Of Missoula Floods

A new book “On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: The Northern Reaches” is out, it details how geologic features in the Northwest were formed, like the Dry Falls in Washington, shown here.
Photo credit: Bruce Bjornstad

A new book details how a dramatic series of Ice Age Floods transformed the landscape of the inland Northwest.

The new book called, “On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods: The Northern Reaches,” details what happened when floods whooshed into the Northwest and created the channeled scablands. Bruce Bjornstad spent five years researching and writing his geologic guidebook. One fact in the book: It might have been as many as a thousand floods that shaped the region, not just two or three big events. Bjornstad says he mostly loves unearthing the clues of the Ice Age Floods, but also:

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Teacher Pay
4:46 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Key Wash. Lawmaker Calls For K-12 Pay Raises Next Year

Wash. House Ways and Means Chairman Ross Hunter says teachers and other school employees deserve a raise.
Washington House of Representatives

Washington teachers are woefully underpaid. That’s the conclusion of a draft legislative task force report. Now a key Washington state lawmaker says teachers and other school employees deserve at least a cost of living pay raise next year.

Twelve years ago, Washington voters approved Initiative 732. It requires annual pay increases for K-12 employees. The initiative didn’t come with any funding. In recent years, because of the Great Recession the legislature has suspended those pay raises. But now state revenues are starting to recover. House Ways and Means Chairman Ross Hunter says the state should make it a priority to ensure teacher pay keeps up with inflation.

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Kitzhaber Faux Bill Signing
4:34 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Kitzhaber Signs Series Of Bills…Again

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signing two measures into law in March.
Photo credit Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has been busy signing a series of bills dealing with everything from marine reserves to tax incentives. But the deadline to sign bills from this year's legislative session was actually more than a month ago.

With a bipartisan group of lawmakers gathered behind him, the governor extolled the virtues of House Bill 4068.

John Kitzhaber: "The people here deserve a lot of credit for bringing a bill to my desk with broad, bipartisan majorities."

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Rural Town Development
6:39 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Far-Flung Residents Of Remote Oregon Build A Gathering Place

Coming down into Arock, Ore. from the highway.
Photo by Anna King Northwest News Network

Nearly every Northwest city and town has a center of gravity -- a place with a heartbeat. You know: Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square or Seattle’s Pike Place Market. But in the remote town of Arock, in southeast Oregon, that kind of spot has been missing for a long, long time. That’s about to change. Anna King has this story about a far-flung community that’s building a new place to gather.

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Tsunami Buoys
6:19 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Pacific NW Tsunami Buoys Out Of Service

Ocean bound tsunami warning buoys like this are designed to provide early detection.
Photo courtesy of NOAA.

One quarter (12 of 39) of U.S.-operated tsunami warning buoys in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are out of service. That includes the two tsunami detection buoys directly off the Pacific Northwest coast. But as Correspondent Tom Banse reports, the warning system has some redundancy built in.

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Murder Trial At JBLM
4:15 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Accused Iraq Clinic Shooter Faces Death Penalty Trial At JBLM

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is at the center of yet another high-profile murder case. The Army announced Friday that Sgt. John Russell will face trial at Lewis-McChord in connection with a 2009 killing spree in Iraq.

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Nuke Power Re-licensed
4:02 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Columbia Generating Station Re-licensed To Run For Another 20 Years

The Columbia Generating Station lies 12 miles NW of Richland, WAshington. It began producing power in 1984.
Photo courtesy of Energy Northwest

The Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant appears to have won permission to operate for another 20 years. That’s the word Friday from Energy Northwest, which operates the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington.

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Water Conservation
6:38 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Water Conservation Linked to Energy

A Northwest environmental group is offering a new reason to conserve water: it’s a way to save energy and shrink your carbon footprint. Aaron Kunz explains.

Conservation group Idaho Rivers United monitored 15 water providers in western Idaho to see how much energy they used. It’s the first research of its kind in the country -- and it’s attracting attention.

Liz Paul of Idaho Rivers United says the group hopes the information gives the public a new way of thinking about the water they use.

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Tsunami Debris
6:35 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Spy Satellites Used In Search For Tsunami Debris

A personal message on this soccer ball confirmed it washed to sea from a Japanese school during the 2011 tsunami. The ball drifted ashore at Middleton Island, Alaska.
Photo by David Baxter. Northwest News Network

Another piece of confirmed tsunami debris – part of a restaurant sign – has washed ashore in Alaska. But marine scientists can’t say how much other Japanese disaster debris is trailing behind. This problem surfaced at a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday. As correspondent Tom Banse reports, researchers are now getting some access to spy satellite imagery.

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