John Ryan

Associated Press

Oil tankers bring about 15 million gallons of oil every day into Washington state. Starting January 1, those ships are required to have double hulls to reduce the risk of an oil spill. The change has been in the works for decades.

Washington State Patrol

The work of an independent commission in response to the Oso landslide in March said more money is needed to prepare for landslides when they do strike.

The commission has 17 recommendations to improve public safety in a state that is dotted with landslide prone slopes. They ranged from improving emergency response to educating the public about landslides.

The report did not assess blame for the deaths in Oso.

brewbooks / Flickr

Shortly after this year's deadly Oso landslide, investigative reporters revealed that loggers had clear-cut in a no-logging zone directly above the hillside that collapsed.

That logging, back in 2004, removed trees in an area scientists had said could worsen the risk of landslides.

A report out Tuesday from the Department of Natural Resources leaves unanswered the question of why logging took place on what should have been forbidden ground.

brewbooks / Flickr

Washington state essentially prohibits logging on unstable slopes - since removing trees can worsen erosion and landslides. But it's not always obvious which slopes are unstable.

State officials Wednesday adopted a more cautious approach around slopes like the one that collapsed onto the town of Oso in March. That deep-seated landslide killed 43 people.

John Ryan / Northwest News Network

A Republican coalition has a narrow margin of control in the Washington state Senate. Democrats hope to change that. Millions of dollars are pouring into key races around the state. Just who’s trying to buy your vote?

The 45th legislative district cuts an arc through Kirkland, Woodinville and Sammamish on Seattle’s east side. More money has flooded into this district trying to influence who gets elected state senator here, than anywhere else in Washington. More than two million dollars at last count.

KUOW

The Oso landslide devastated one stretch of one valley in Snohomish County. But Washington state is dotted with landslide-prone slopes. An investigation by KUOW and EarthFix has found that many local governments do much less than Snohomish County to keep people from building on dangerous ground. 

John Ryan / KUOW

Homelessness is on the rise in Seattle. In the city’s University District, a new homeless camp has popped up on a busy sidewalk. Members of the camp say 20 people are living in the small cluster of tents.

It’s too small to call a tent city, so I’ll call it a tent-village. It’s on the sidewalk in front of the U District post office. Tent-village resident Stephen Crow is a leader of a group calling itself The Ave Foundation. He says he’s been homeless since he was 12. He’s now 36.

John Ryan / KUOW

No one will face criminal charges in connection with a refinery explosion that killed seven Tesoro workers in Anacortes. The Justice Department is closing its four-year-long criminal investigation. KUOW’s John Ryan reports.

John Ryan / KUOW

It was Washington state’s worst industrial accident in nearly 50 years.

“Skagit 911. What’s your emergency?” “I’m trying to find out what's going on at the refinery.” “You know, we don’t know at this point, sir.” “Well, all I can tell you is I live two and a half miles from it, and the explosion was hard enough to rock my house, and there’s one hell of a fire going there.”

That explosion in 2010 at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes killed seven workers.

Four years later, no one has been held publicly accountable for the seven deaths. As John Ryan reported, state efforts to penalize Tesoro have stalled. To improve worker safety, the federal government is wielding a tool it rarely uses: criminal prosecution of one of the nation’s largest corporations.

Here’s John Ryan with part two of our investigation.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

It's been four years since a deadly explosion at an oil refinery shook the town of Anacortes, Washington. The question of who's responsible for seven workers' deaths still hasn't been answered fully. Refinery owner Tesoro agreed to pay millions to families of the dead, but the company is fighting accusations that it willfully put its workers in harm’s way. With multiple legal proceedings continuing to swirl around the accident, it remains unclear whether anyone will be held accountable for the human cost of Tesoro gasoline. John Ryan brings us part one of this KUOW investigation.

A tunnel machine is set to resume digging beneath the streets of Seattle in June. This machine isn't named Bertha.

John Ryan

Fundraising for this November's elections is kicking into high gear. That means candidates are cozying up to people with money. Sometimes, elected officials even get friendly with the companies they regulate.

For the second day in a row, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has asked the federal government to boost its disaster assistance to victims of the Oso landslide.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

State officials say they didn't approve clearcutting inside a no-logging zone directly above Saturday's deadly landslide in the town of Oso.  But aerial photos show a clearcut extending into the zone where a loss of trees would heighten the risk of landslides. 

A new federal report says overcrowding and understaffing puts the health of Snohomish County Jail inmates at risk. The report comes after eight deaths at the jail in the past three years.

A bad fall in the hospital can turn a short visit into a long stay.

Such falls featured in congressional discussions about patient safety, and in a new study in the Journal of Patient Safety about medical errors. Falls are one part of a multistate clash between nurses and hospitals over how to improve the safety of hospitalized patients.

John Ryan

Scientists in two nations are on the lookout for a rapidly spreading epidemic. This epidemic is under water, and it’s affecting starfish.

KUOW/John Ryan

A new report says violence is a “constant disruption” at Washington state’s two main psychiatric hospitals. But the CEO of the state’s biggest mental hospital isn't sold on some of the findings.

Nine men and one woman from Washington state have made Forbes magazine’s latest list of American billionaires. The group of ten had an oversized influence on Washington state politics last year. But so far this year, they’re mostly sitting on the sidelines.

John Ryan

Governor Jay Inslee said on Tuesday he wants to call a special session of the state legislature this fall. But he stopped short of actually doing so.

John Ryan

Backers of a Washington state ballot initiative to require labels on genetically modified foods have raised four times more cash than their opponents. Both sides’ contributions have mostly come from outside Washington state.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Some of the results may not be known for weeks, but the most expensive election ever in Washington state wrapped up last night.

Washington state is heading south in its quest to recover the largest ethics fine in state history.

Forbes magazine released its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans today Wednesday. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has once again topped the list of America's richest people. KUOW's John Ryan reports from Seattle.

Photo by John Ryan / Northwest News Network

Problems in Puget Sound have led Shell Oil to cancel its plans for drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean this year. KUOW's John Ryan reports from the Bellingham waterfront.

The Arctic Challenger is Shell's oil-spill containment barge. It's here behind me at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal. It's supposed to be in place in the Arctic to help mop up any oil spills. It's been under construction here at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal for months.

Photo Credit: John Ryan

One of Washington's largest environmental groups is shutting down. People for Puget Sound announced it will close its doors at the end of the month.

Photo by John Ryan / Northwest News Network

Western State Hospital, near Tacoma, is the largest psychiatric institution in the Pacific Northwest. Its mission statement says the hospital--

Actor: "provides a healing environment free from danger, fear, hurt, injury, coercion, or intimidation for people with psychiatric disabilities. … Through vigilant attention and effort, WSH ensures a safe haven."

One week in April, Western failed to live up to those words, and the consequences were dire. Attention was less than vigilant, and two patients wound up dead. In part one of our public radio investigation, KUOW's John Ryan reported on the case of one of those patients. She committed suicide. In part two of our investigation, John looks at the safety improvements Western has, and hasn't, made since April.

Photo by Suzanne Kuhns

In the past decade, a dozen Western State Hospital patients have killed themselves. More than a hundred others have tried. Megan Templeton was the most recent. In April, she hanged herself in her hospital room. She had turned 20 the day before. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers and young adults in Washington.

A second patient at Western State Hospital has died violently in less than a week.  Lakewood Police say 20-year-old Megan Templeton hanged herself with a bed sheet at the state's largest psychiatric hospital.

Fifty-three people died on the job in Washington state last year. It was the least deadly year in Washington workplaces in three decades.

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