Anna King

Northwest News Reporter

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.

The South Sound was her girlhood backyard and she knows its rocky beaches, mountain trails and cities well. She left the west side to attend Washington State University and spent an additional two years studying language and culture in Italy.

While not on the job, Anna enjoys trail running, clam digging, hiking and wine tasting with friends. She's most at peace on top a Northwest mountain with her husband Andy Plymale and their muddy Aussie-dog Poa.

Ways to Connect

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

Drought that’s sizzling the rest of the nation has largely left the Northwest states alone. Furthermore, the Midwest’s farmers’ misfortune is actually benefiting farmers here. That’s because grain prices are raising because of the Heartland’s decimated yields. Correspondent Anna King has this report from central Washington’s grain country.

Wheat stubble, grain elevators and whole lot of wide open – that’s Connell, Washington.

Anna King / Northwest Public Radio

Drought that’s sizzling the rest of the nation has largely left the Northwest states alone. Furthermore, the Midwest’s farmers’ misfortune is actually benefiting farmers here. That’s because grain prices are going up because of the Heartland’s decimated yields. Meanwhile, many Northwest farmers crops are above average.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Helix, Ore., residents have most of their summer programs back online and many buildings back in service after a massive mud flow ripped through much of downtown. A storm sent rivers of mud down early the morning of July 16.

Department of Energy

A new federal report says managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation respond appropriately to most concerns brought up by employees. But the study says sometimes officials at the southeast Washington site don’t explain well enough to employees how they resolve each concern. The report also says initial interviews with concerned employees were often incomplete or too abbreviated to do a proper investigation later.

Railex

A company that ships Northwest produce to East Coast markets by rail plans an expansion that will benefit the region's wineries. Railex has reached an agreement with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates to build a massive wine storage warehouse in southeast Washington.

Anna King / Northwest Public Radio

Residents of the tiny northeast Oregon town of Helix are cleaning up after a huge mudflow that inundated much of the community.

Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls has been failing to properly handle and store explosives, putting some workers in jeopardy. That’s the upshot of a new report by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell made a visit to Richland, Washington Friday to highlight how creating a B Reactor National Historical Park would create jobs and spur tourism in southeast Washington. The B Reactor at Hanford was the world’s first full-scale plutonium production facility. Correspondent Anna King has more.

Senator Maria Cantwell believes despite its dark history, Hanford has an important lesson to share.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

It’s not news that Washington is producing record amounts of blueberries this year. It happened last year. Next year will likely break another record and the year after that too. The real news is: Where is the fruit going, and why is it still so expensive? Correspondent Anna King explains.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

Each year on a long, steep stretch of looping highway in southeast Washington, hundreds of skateboarders test their grit. A helmet, a leather body suit and wicked skill are all that stand between glory and a face full of asphalt. It’s called the Maryhill Festival of Speed near Goldendale. Correspondent Anna King caught up with one young couple that travels the world for downhill skateboarding.

Photo by Scott Granneman / Flickr

This week crews are cleaning up about 30 train cars full of coal that overturned near Mesa, in Eastern Washington. The accident has raised questions about proposed increased train shipments of coal through the nearby Columbia River Gorge. Correspondent Anna King has more.

Allen4names / Wikimedia Commons

People across the Northwest have been reacting to today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold President Obama’s health care overhaul. Correspondent Anna King spoke to people outside the Kadlec Medical Center in Richland in southeast Washington.

Bechtel National, Inc.

Construction on large sections of a waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will slow down because of major new testing that’s required. That’s the announcement Tuesday from top managers at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

There is a lot written about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in scientific journals, news articles and government reports. Now there is a book of poetry. The State of Washington’s poet laureate recently released a book of remembrances about her hometown of Richland. It’s called “Plume.” Kathleen Flenniken returned to southeast Washington for this visit with our correspondent Anna King.

We’re on the shore of the Columbia River at a Richland park. A flotilla of students, in bright kayaks, paddle against the current.

With lingering high unemployment and the endless talk of the down economy – it’s hard to believe that there are some industries putting help-wanted signs out by the dozens. But that’s the case in Northwest orchard country where there appears to be a dwindling supply of migrant workers for cherry picking. Cherry season started this past week, and as correspondent Anna King reports, farmers and shop-keeps alike are anxiously waiting for more workers to arrive.

CH2MHill / Northwest News

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu fielded questions about safety at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Friday. He assured hundreds of workers listening in a Richland park that challenges in the massive cleanup of radioactive waste are getting attention at the highest level.

Secretary Chu said he’s really serious about wanting safety at Hanford. He’s particularly focused on the site’s $12 billion waste treatment plant, now under construction. It’s meant to stabilize 56 million gallons of radioactive waste.

EPA / Northwest News Network

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has started the cleanup of a superfund site near Moses Lake in central Washington. As correspondent Anna King reports, this restoration has been in the works for decades.

The contaminated area is made up of an old Air Force airport, a county airport and some adjacent lands. Dumpsites there are loaded with chemicals like PCBs, lead and petroleum. The EPA has started testing and designing a treatment system to remove trichloroethylene from the groundwater at the superfund site.

U.S. Marshals

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies say they’ve swept up more than 200 violent felons in Eastern Washington. So-called 'Operation Scattergun II' focused on wanted offenders in the Spokane, Tri-Cities and Yakima regions last week. Beatrice Bravo is a Deputy U.S. Marshal based in Spokane. She says the felon roundup took a lot of advance planning.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu plans to visit the Hanford Nuclear Reservation next week to discuss the site’s safety culture. Chu’s fly-in comes just as the Hanford Advisory Board struggles this week to settle on its official advice on the safety culture at the southeast Washington complex. Correspondent Anna King reports.

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

The Northwest cherry harvest is set to begin next week, but farmers are a bit glum. That’s because the National Weather Service says this month’s temperatures will be near or below average across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Cool weather and rain and can delay ripening and compress the cherry growing season. That means that markets have less time to sell the perishable fruit. Plus, farmers may have a harder time recruiting enough labor in a shortened season.

And there’s another problem according to the Washington Fruit Commission's B.J. Thurlby. He says rain can spoil the fruit on the branch.

Image via U.S. Senate / U.S. Senate

A high level whistleblower at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is moving ahead with a lawsuit against a federal contractor. But Walt Tamosaitis would have to appeal in order to take the federal government to court. At issue is the safety culture at Hanford.

Walt Tamosaitis sued the U.S. Department of Energy and contractor URS after he was removed from his job. He claims it was retaliation for raising safety concerns about the $12 billion waste treatment plant going up in southeast Washington.

A sprawling, historic ranch in southeast Washington goes up for sale Friday. Conservationists and the state of Washington are hoping to keep the 14,000 acre property out of the hands of developers.

Chris Joseph Taylor / Northwest News Network

Sometimes life hands you disappointment and humiliation. That happened to Suzie Aldrich in a swim meet in college. The Walla Walla native didn’t swim again for nearly 50 years. But in retirement the pool called her back for a re-do. And the results were astonishing.

“They say to invest in gold and I try to do my best," says Suzie Aldrich with a laugh.

"These are all gold medals. I’m Suzie Aldrich and I’m 69 years old. I’m from Walla Walla, Washington and I’m the Eastern Washington, Washington State, Alaska international record holder in backstroke. I’ll see ya at the other end."

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is celebrating the new license that allows the Columbia Generating Station to run for another 20 years. She spoke at a ceremony to hundreds of the plant’s employees Thursday. The southcentral Washington reactor is run by Energy Northwest. It’s the only commercial nuclear power plant in the Northwest. Gregoire says the Columbia Generating Station has little to do with the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s legacy of waste.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Hundreds of employees of the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant celebrated Thursday. The Columbia Generating Station now is licensed to run for another 20 years. Correspondent Anna King was there.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the new 20 year license. That means the plant in southeast Washington will send up plumes of steam, visible for long distances across the desert until 2043. It took employees 5 years to finish the application process. Carl Adrian heads the Tri-City Development Council. He says the plant is an important employer here, but it’s more than that.

A major government contractor on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has a new plan to improve its safety culture. Bechtel has come under sharp criticism by federal nuclear watchdogs. Correspondent Anna King has more.

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.

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:

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.

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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