Ashley Ahearn

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Water Quality & Fish
5:26 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Governor Inslee Announces New Water Quality Plan

The federal government says people eat fish about once a month, rainbow trout is a common catch for fisherman and is found throughout the northwest.
Credit Roger Tabor (USFWS) / Flickr

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has just released a new plan to improve water quality in the state. One measure of how clean your water is, is how much of its fish you can safely eat.

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Railway Whistleblowers
7:43 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Workers Question Safety Culture Of Railroad Hauling Volatile Crude Oil

BNSF Railway, the second-largest freight network in the U.S., is at the center of the boom in crude by rail. The railroad touts its commitment to safety. Current and former workers question the safety culture on the ground.
Credit Michael Werner / EarthFix

Crude oil shipments by rail increased by more than 80 percent, nationally, last year.

Most of it is coming from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That crude is more flammable than other types of oil, and has been shown to catch fire and explode when trains derail.

More than 15 trains of Bakken oil move through some parts of the Northwest each week, en route to refineries and terminals in Washington and Oregon.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway transports the majority of that oil.

The company regularly touts its commitment to safety.

But an EarthFix investigation reveals some troubling patterns in the way BNSF Railway deals with whistleblowers – particularly those who voice concerns about safety.

Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix. EarthFix’s Tony Schick contributed to the reporting for this story.

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Coal Regulators
8:03 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Regulators Discuss Future Of Coal In The West

This image of the coal-fired plant in Colstrip, Mont., was made in the 1980s by Montana native David T. Hanson. It was part of an exhibit at Modern Museum of Art in New York.
Credit David T. Hanson / EarthFix

The Obama administration’s new rules to cut CO2 emissions sparked some interesting conversation in Seattle this week. At a conference held downtown, leaders in the energy sector gathered to talk about the future of coal in the West. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

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Landslide Prevention
6:19 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Development Pressure Vs. Landslide Risk In Snohomish County

The Oso Landslide highlighted a challenge that is not new to the Northwest: how to keep population growth out of risky areas.

Snohomish County has to make room for up to 220,000 new people by the year 2035, according to state requirements. And like many other parts of the Northwest, there are a lot of places where landslides pose a threat to current, and future, homeowners.

In part two of our series from EarthFix, Ashley Ahearn takes a look at development pressure and landslide risk in Snohomish County.

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Oso Landslide
7:40 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Landslide Science Not Connecting With County Planning

Giant gray fingers of rock and muck and debris encircled the little log cabin.
Credit Bonnie Brown

The Northwest is a region prone to landslides.

That, of course, is on many people’s minds as the town of Oso, Washington recovers from the tragic slide that happened there this past weekend.

There is a lot of scientific data and maps showing where landslides have occurred in the past.

The question is whether or not it’s getting used.

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Snohomish County Mudslide
6:53 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Site Near Oso Had Previous Landslides, Potential For More

The landslide on the Stillaguamish River in Snohomish County has killed 8 people and destroyed up to 30 homes.
Credit Sierra Sansaver

Authorities have confirmed that the landslide on the Stillaguamish River in Snohomish County has killed 8 people and destroyed up to 30 homes.

KUOW's Ashley Ahearn turned to Dave Montgomery to find out what caused the slide. Montgomery is a geologist at the University of Washington.

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Oil Train Legislation
7:09 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Washington Legislature Fails To Pass Comprehensive Oil Train Legislation

More oil is moving through Washington state from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That has many concerned about oil train safety. The oil has proven extremely flammable, causing several explosions in North America.

State legislators on both sides of the aisle introduced bills to address the concerns.

But the session ended last week without a compromise.

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Shellfish Import Ban
7:50 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Chinese and U.S. Officials To Discuss China's Shellfish Import Ban

China instituted the ban when officials found high levels of arsenic and a naturally occurring biotoxin in two samples of geoduck.
Credit Cedric Sam/Flickr

China banned shellfish imports from most of the West Coast in December over concerns about contamination.

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Steelhead Population
4:54 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Stalking Steelhead With Science

Crew members of the research vessel "Chasina" drop an acoustic telemetry receiver down into Puget Sound. The device will record the passage of tagged steelhead.
Credit Ashley Ahearn / KUOW

Steelhead in Puget Sound have been listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act since 2007. Millions of dollars have been spent improving the habitat of this iconic fish, but the population isn’t increasing. In fact, a lot of the fish aren’t even making it out of Puget Sound and scientists can’t pinpoint why.

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Business
3:27 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Pacific Northwest Suffers After China Bans Shellfish Imports

A geoduck farm near Totten Inlet, Washington.
KBCS/Bellvue/Seattle/Flickr

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:23 am

China has closed its doors to all shellfish imports from an area that stretches from northern California to Alaska. The state of Washington says it's losing as much as $600,000 a week.

Among the shellfish not being harvested is the geoduck, a long-necked clam that can fetch up to $150 per pound in China. It's a major export for the Pacific Northwest.

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