environment

The National Park Service, community leaders, and a Northwest Washington Indian tribe marked a major milestone Friday toward removing two dams on the Elwha River. They're on the north Olympic Peninsula.

Air pollution from oceangoing ships will be dramatically reduced under new rules agreed to by shipping companies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and international regulators. The pollution rules affect container ships, cruise lines and oil tankers calling on West Coast ports.

Starting next year, some of the trash you toss out may end up in gas tanks instead of buried at a large regional landfill in eastern Oregon. 

This project is a joint venture between landfill operator Waste Management Inc. and a small engineering company based in Bend called InEnTec. The partners announced they'll build their first waste-to-energy plant at the big landfill near Arlington, Oregon. The planned facility will vaporize trash in a very high temperature melter. Spokeswoman Jackie Lang says the resulting superheated gases can then be recombined to make synthetic fuel.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The water system is sick in a huge swath of Eastern Washington -- from Union Gap near Yakima to Benton City near the Tri-Cities. State and federal officials announced Thursday that much of the ground water in the lower valley is dangerous to drink. Correspondent Anna King reports. 

The Yakima Valley is like a multi layered cake punched with a network of drinking straws. There are irrigation drainage pipes, farm canals, deep wells, really old shallow wells, aquifers and rivers all coming. Somehow lots of nitrates and bacteria are getting into the ground water.

What do Nike, R-E-I, the Vancouver Olympics, and the Washington State government have in common? They've all promised to eliminate their impact on the climate by going 'carbon-neutral'. R-E-I aims to have zero output of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide by the year 2020. But since REI set the zero-impact goal, its emissions have been heading rapidly in the opposite direction.

What do Nike, R-E-I, the Vancouver Olympics, and the Washington State government have in common? They've all promised to eliminate their impact on the climate by going 'carbon-neutral'. R-E-I aims to have zero output of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide by the year 2020. But since REI set the zero-impact goal, its emissions have been heading rapidly in the opposite direction.

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu named a blue ribbon panel Friday to find a final resting spot for the nation's nuclear waste and spent fuel. It has just two years to come up with an alternative to Nevada's Yucca Mountain. As Richland Correspondent Anna King reports, the commission's findings have big implications for how the Hanford Nuclear Reservation deals with its high-level radioactive sludge. 

SALEM, Ore. - Many of Oregon's major transportation corridors would be impassable if a major earthquake hit. That's the upshot of a study released today by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

ODOT engineers used a new computer simulation program to subject Oregon bridges to hypothetical major earthquakes. The result? Many bridges along the state's biggest highways would be out of commission for months, if not longer, if a huge quake hit. That includes Interstate 5, according to ODOT's Dave Thompson:

Oregon is pushing its coastal counties to standardize the sound of tsunami warning sirens. Washington state has already done so. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Oregon's Emergency Management Office uses the words “mish mash” to describe the current array of tsunami warning sounds. Seaside, Oregon for example has used a steady siren wail during evacuation drills.

Columbia and Snake River irrigators have run out of patience with the state of Washington's slow work to increase irrigated acreage that was agreed to in 2006, according to Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association leaders.

If the state will not support efforts to allow irrigators to use some of the water freed up by conservation efforts, irrigators will no longer be willing to support the state's other conservation projects, said Darryll Olsen, a consultant to the irrigators association, during a meeting with the Herald editorial board.

photo by Ray Bosch, U.S. F&WS

The federal government today removed brown pelicans from the endangered species list. Nowadays, the migratory seabird is a common sight along the Oregon and Washington coasts between June and October. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the pelican was declared endangered in the early 1970's.

HELENA — A new federal Environmental Protection Agency study shows concentrations of toxic chemicals in fish tissue from lakes and reservoirs in nearly all 50 states, though those levels aren't considered dangerous in the Montana lakes tested.

According to the agency, the study marks the first time the EPA has been able to estimate the percentage of lakes and reservoirs nationwide that have fish containing potentially harmful levels of chemicals such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

Today in northeastern Washington, state attorneys will try a man accused of buying gall bladders that were taken from bears. Authorities say the organs are popular items on the black market. The practice of buying and selling bear parts is illegal in Washington, as Inland Northwest Correspondent Doug Nadvornick reports.

A watchdog group is crying foul on the federal government's plan to pump more water out of the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. The government plans to build a massive pipeline near Moses Lake with federal stimulus money. Richland Correspondent Anna King explains. 

At issue is the federal government's plan to build a massive pipeline near Moses Lake to pull more water out of the Columbia River to help irrigate crops. Rachael Paschael Osborn with the group Center for Environmental Law & Policy says she became concerned with the pipeline when she realized how large it was.

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