9:18 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Northwest coastal waters slightly caffeinated, study finds

The Northwest's love of coffee is leading to caffeine spilling into coastal waters.
Diane Gilleland Flickr

The Northwest is known for its love of coffee. Now evidence of that is showing up in the Pacific Ocean. Researchers have found low levels of caffeine at half a dozen locations on the Oregon Coast.

Caffeine has previously been found to be pervasive in Puget Sound and has even turned up in relatively pristine Barkley Sound on the outer coast of Vancouver Island.

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Global Warming
6:54 am
Wed July 25, 2012

'Heat dome' linked to Greenland's biggest melt in 30 years

In these illustrations NASA produced from satellite data, the melt in Greenland on July 8 (at left) and July 12 are shown. According to NASA, "the areas classified as 'probable melt' (light pink) correspond to those sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. The areas classified as 'melt' (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected surface melting."

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 4:19 am

Last week there were the pictures of an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan breaking off Greenland's Petermann Glacier.

Now there are NASA images showing that in four days earlier this month, "Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations."

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5:48 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Study: Coastal Oregon waters slightly caffeinated

Is Portland's love of coffee leading to the caffeination of Oregon coastal waters? Photo by Diane Gilleland via Flickr

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 4:19 pm

The Northwest is known for its love of coffee. Now evidence of that is showing up in the Pacific Ocean. Researchers have found low levels of caffeine at half a dozen locations on the Oregon Coast.

Caffeine does not occur naturally in the environment in the Pacific Northwest. Marine scientists believe the java jolt gets into seawater through treated sewage and septic runoff.

A Portland State University graduate student collected water samples at 14 coastal beaches and seven nearby river mouths. Samples taken after heavy stormwater runoff contained traces of caffeine.

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7:24 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Tolerable risk vs. terrible catastrophe: Dams and the big one

The Bureau of Reclamation is analyzing the economics and the options for reinforcing Scoggins Dam, 25 miles west of Portland. Photo by US Bureau of Reclamation

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 7:22 am

It's a question all of us face sooner or later: whether to spend a good chunk of money to protect against a catastrophe that has a very low chance of occurring. A workshop that just wrapped up in Corvallis considered that dilemma in the context of Northwest dams and a magnitude 9 earthquake.

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NPR diversions
9:12 am
Thu July 19, 2012

This image is not photoshopped

Palindromo Meszaros

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 8:20 am

This photo looks like two images stitched together; above is a normal forest, and below, a strange, Martian one. But it's a single image from a single place and time — the hills of western Hungary, six months after a devastating industrial accident.

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7:15 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Iceberg twice the size of Manhattan breaks off glacier in Greenland

A view of the glacier taken Tuesday. Inside the square: the iceberg that broke off.
NASA Earth Observatory

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 8:30 am

A huge iceberg that's about twice the size of Manhattan has broken off the Petermann Glacier in Greenland — the same sheet of ice that just two years ago "calved" another massive berg.

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Coal Exports
5:03 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Coal Spill Raises Questions About Boosting Exports

A train accident in Eastern Washington has raised questions about proposed increased train shipments of coal through the nearby Columbia River Gorge. Photo by Courtney Flatt/ EarthFix

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 6:53 am

RICHLAND, Wash. - This week crews are cleaning up about 30 train cars full of coal that overturned near Mesa , in Eastern Washington. The accident has raised questions about proposed increased train shipments of coal through the nearby Columbia River Gorge.

Huge machinery had to be trucked in from the Tri-Cities to clean up the black dusty mess in the rural burg east of Yakima. Car loads of coal overturned and damaged the tracks there.

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10:52 am
Mon July 2, 2012

First forest health hazard warning expected for Washington

Bug-infested forests are a growing concern in Washington state. Photo credit: Washington DNR

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 6:36 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s Lands Commissioner is expected to declare the state’s first ever forest health hazard warning Monday. The formal declaration comes amid growing concern about the potential for a catastrophic fire -– not unlike what we’ve seen in recent days in Colorado.

If you look at a map of dead and dying trees across Washington, the hot spots spread from the spine of the Cascade Mountains into northeastern Washington. Today, it’s estimated nearly 3 million acres of Washington forest are in poor health -– mostly riddled by tree-killing insects.

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2:53 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Tentative OK for prospecting near Mount St. Helens

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The Bureau of Land Management says a Canadian company could prospect for copper, gold and silver near Mount St. Helens with no significant impact on the environment.

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9:28 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Arctic drill ships leave Seattle for Alaska

The Kulluk (above) and Noble Discoverer and support ships are headed first to Dutch Harbor.
The Associated Press

Two vessels fitted with drilling rigs left Seattle Wednesday for Alaska.

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derelict ship
10:51 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Refloated ship 'Deep Sea' in Penn Cove to be towed to Seattle

An image of the Deep Sea derelict ship reportedly shot Jan. 1. The ship caught fire and sank in May.
Chad Collins Flickr

COUPEVILLE, Wash. — The sunken derelict ship that was refloated in Penn Cove is scheduled to be towed from Whidbey Island to a Seattle shipyard Wednesday to be dismantled.

A spill from the ship has cost nearly $2 million, so far.

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coal exports
2:55 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Seattle opposes coal-export ports

Seattle Councilman Mike O'Brien says mining and burning more coal isn't consistent with the city's goal to fight climate change.
The Associated Press

The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of coal-export terminals in Washington state over concerns about increased train traffic and potential harm to health and the environment.

Tuesday's vote comes as the federal government is reviewing the first of at least six port facilities proposed in Washington and Oregon to ship coal from the Powder River basin of Montana and Wyoming to thirsty markets in Asia.

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Oil Exploration
2:29 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

Arctic drill ship nearly ready to leave Seattle for Alaska

The floating oil-drilling platform "Kulluk" is seen briefly bathed in light as it passes an otherwise cloudy and dark downtown Seattle in July 2011.
The Associated Press

The Arctic drill ship Kulluk has been berthed in Seattle for about 10 months, but if Shell Oil gets final federal permits and overcomes court challenges by environmental groups the vessel will be in Alaska waters this year.

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Nuclear Energy
4:21 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Northwest's only nuclear plant celebrates relicensing

Hundreds of Energy Northwest employees stepped outside for a celebration of the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant’s relicensing. Photo by Anna King

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 4:56 pm

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hundreds of employees of the Northwest’s only power plant celebrated Thursday. The Columbia Generating Station now is licenced to run for another 20 years.

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 five 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.

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2:51 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Seattle gearing up to oppose coal exports from northwest ports

Seattle appears poised to vote against coal transports through the city.
The Associated Press

For some it’s the next big source of high-wage jobs; for others, an environmental nightmare: At least 9 trains a day could soon rumble through Seattle, carrying coal to export terminals in Washington and Oregon.

Cities from Missoula, Mont., to Edmonds have passed resolutions that call the idea into question. Seattle is now poised to join them with one of its own.

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