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.

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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.

Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Energy / Northwest News Network

A new $11 million contract moves plans ahead to clean up radioactive sludge at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. It’s in an area called the K-West Basin just 400-yards from the Columbia River.

Photo courtesy of Bechtel National, Inc.

An independent oversight team from the Department of Energy is visiting the Hanford Nuclear Reservation this week. Richland Correspondent Anna King explains why.

The agency is called the Department of Energy’s Office of Health, Safety and Security or H.S.S. It’s responsible for enforcing the Energy department’s self regulation of nuclear safety, worker health and safety and information security.

Northwest apple growers expect a bumper crop this year in combination with higher prices. But as correspondent Anna King reports, farmers are worried they won’t have enough workers to pick the apples at peak ripeness.

Washington state Ecology is rolling out a new draft permit for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington. The document is 16,476 pages long. Public meetings are scheduled across the Northwest including one in Seattle Tuesday night and another in Portland Wednesday. This new permit will determine how Hanford waste is treated, stored and disposed of for the next 10 years. Dieter Bohrmann is an Ecology spokesman. He says this document reflects that Hanford is unique both in its size and scope.

Dieter Bohrmann: “I think if there were any way we could have simplified it, and cut 10,000 pages out of it – yeah. You know, but even with that, it was still going to be a large document regardless.”

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

Hay farmers in Eastern Washington are beginning to cut their fields. It’s the first harvest of the Northwest hay season. New numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show there’s less hay left over from last year. As Anna King reports, that’s good news for alfalfa and timothy growers.

Photo credit: Donald Wall / Northwest News Network

The nuclear industry faces a generation gap. A lot of the people who run nuclear power plants are nearing retirement. Now the Obama Administration has awarded $6.3 million to Northwest universities to help train the next generation of nuclear leaders.

Donald Wall directs Washington State University’s Nuclear Radiation Center in Pullman. The reactor is surrounded by the university’s golf course.

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

Just about every Friday night in the remote southeast corner of Oregon, fiddlers and guitar players travel far distances to play music together. They’ve been doing it for decades. Recently, two of the players have become fast friends, even though one is 85 and the other is 14. Correspondent Anna King has this high desert audio postcard from Burns, Oregon.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

A Hanford whistleblower lawsuit is underway in federal court in Yakima. A former high-level manager on a nuclear treatment project is asking for a jury trial, but the judge hearing the case said Thursday that’s unlikely. Correspondent Anna King was there.

The Department of Energy says it’s considering whether to require a Hanford contractor to pay back a $15 million bonus. A new federal report says the bonus was for mixing tanks that managers have since been unable to prove are up to nuclear standards. Correspondent Anna King reports.

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

Washington asparagus farmers are plowing out giant fields during what should be the prime of their harvest season. That’s because there is a shortage of migrant farmworkers this year.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

In the remote valleys of southeast Oregon both birds and cattle flourish. This is where mountain streams feed an oasis of lakes and marshes in the high desert. Cattle ranchers and wildlife advocates have been fighting over that valuable grassland for decades. Now, they’ve struck a delicate truce that keeps both birds and burgers in mind. Correspondent Anna King has our story from way outside of Burns, Oregon.

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