Safety

Hanford Vapors
6:13 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Hanford Vapors: It's Still Difficult To Track Down The Fix

Handheld air monitors are used in the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's tank farms to help keep workers safe. But a human nose can detect far less concentrated chemicals, than this high-tech machinery. It's one of the reasons tracking down the vapor problems at the tank farms is so hard.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

The federal government led a bus load of journalists to points across the Hanford nuclear site. Officials wanted to show off what they’re doing to keep workers safe from chemical vapors. Since the spring a run of workers have needed medical attention from vapor exposure. Correspondent Anna King was on the bus, and files this report.

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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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Auto Theft
5:54 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Western Cities Top Rankings Of Auto Theft Hot Spots

The top auto theft hot spots in the United State and the Northwest.
Credit Kevin Mooney / NICB

In what Northwest city is your car most likely to be stolen? According to a new insurance industry report, the answer is Spokane. Meanwhile, the former top auto theft hot spot of Yakima made significant improvement in the last year.

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Oregon Legislature
6:02 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Critics Deride 'Nanny State' Measures, Supporters Say Laws Are Justified

Shannon Holman, Dept of Transportation and Alexandra Kocik

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 6:01 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Some of the fiercest debates this year in the Oregon legislature have revolved around something critics call the “nanny state.” These are bills to regulate personal behavior. The issues may change, but it’s a conversation that’s been going on for decades.

Let's start with a recent example. A measure that would ban smoking in cars when there are children present. Republican Oregon state Senator Jeff Kruse is a smoker, but that’s not why he opposes the bill.

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Idaho Mining Permits
6:35 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Mining Industry Seeks Shorter Permit Waiting Period

Idaho lawmakers listening to mining industry leaders talk about the economic impact of mining. More than half of Idaho is federally managed.
Credit Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Mining pumps on average nearly a billion dollars into Idaho’s economy every year. Idaho, along with Nevada and Utah are considered mining friendly states. But the industry is frustrated that it can take years before permits are issued and work can get underway. That’s why mining officials appealed to state lawmakers this week to help speed up the regulatory process. As Earthfix reporter Aaron Kunz explains it’s a proposition that has environmentalists worried.

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787 Dreamliner
6:41 am
Fri January 18, 2013

On Deck at Boeing's 787 Assembly Line

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Credit Photo by Strower / Wikimedia Commons

Outside the Boeing plant in Everett, newly assembled 787s sit ready for delivery. Inside, the production line rolls on. That’s despite this week’s setbacks for the company’s newest model, the 787 Dreamliner.

Airlines around the world have grounded the planes amid concerns about its lithium ion batteries. It was a battery issue that caused an All Nippon Airways’787 to make an emergency landing in Japan earlier this week. KUOW’s Liz Jones visited the Boeing plant in Everett to get a closer view of this aircraft under scrutiny.

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Psychiatric Safety
6:26 am
Thu November 29, 2012

State Senator To Propose More Security in Psychiatric Wards

The front entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood.
Credit Photo by John Ryan / Northwest News Network

One Washington state senator says it is past time for lawmakers to increase safety at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals. Paige Browning reports Senator Mike Carrell announced he will propose legislation in the coming term.

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Skiing Safety
6:35 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Ski Industry Veterans Are Trying to Keep People Safe In the Back Country

Stevens Pass was the site of a fatal accident earlier last February.
Credit Photo by Derek Ramsey / Wikimedia Commons

The holiday season is upon us. And along with that comes ski season. Snow is falling in the Cascades. Wednesday is opening day at Crystal Mountain and Mount Baker. Tuesday Stevens Pass opened.

But giddy enthusiasm from skiers and snowboarders’ throughout the region is overshadowed by an accident at Stevens Pass last February. It was big.

News Report: “We’re gonna begin with those deadly avalanches. A deadly avalanche near Stevens Pass /We are gonna begin with the breaking news: that deadly avalanche in Washington state.”

Three people were killed that day.

Now, as KUOW’s Sara Lerner reports, ski industry veterans are trying to come up with new ways to keep people safe in the back country.

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Coal Export
6:17 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Northwest Tribes Say "No Short Cuts" For Coal Export Projects

Photo of coal truck.
Photo Credit: Nathan Bevier/Wiki Commons

At a convention today Thursday, tribes from around the Northwest released a joint statement calling for a full environmental analysis of five proposed coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington.

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Unsafe Fire Tactics
6:14 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Report: ‘Extremely Unsafe’ Tactics At Blaze That Killed Firefighter

Anne Veseth of Moscow, Idaho, died earlier this month fighting the Steep Corner Fire.
Photo courtesy Veseth family via U.S. Forest Service

Managers at a blaze in north Idaho were warned about hazardous conditions the day before a 20-year-old firefighter died on the job. That’s according to an informal report by the head of a federal hotshot crew, which refused to work on the fire. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has more.

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