Environment

Alternative energy
10:06 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Federal bill would smooth way for small dams, hydropower

This weir at Youngs Creek, near Sultan, is situated above a waterfall, minimizing its impact on fish runs. The Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013 would ease federal licensing on small dams, if they generate less than 10 megawatts of power.
Courtesy Snohomish County PUD

Big dams that block rivers and salmon runs are out of vogue. But new legislation could clear the way for more small ones.

The removal of Washington’s Elwha dam — the largest dam removal in U.S. history — marked the end of an era in which big dams were embraced.

Read more
Superfund cleanup
12:09 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Lower Duwamish Waterway plan open for public comment

You can see dredging equipment used in the earliest work on superfund cleanup of "hotspots" at Seattle's Duwamish Waterway Park, in Southpark.
Bellamy Pailthorp Photo KPLU News

Seattle’s Duwamish River was once a meandering estuary in the heart of the city. A century ago, it was transformed into an industrial waterway and used as a dumping ground for decades.

Now it’s a Superfund site – and the Environmental Protection Agency has released a plan to clean it up.

Read more
Tsunami
9:15 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Did 2011 Japan tsunami change preparedness on our coast?

Oregon Emergency Management Division

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 2:59 pm

The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan served as a wake up call for coastal residents and visitors on our shores. But two years later, it is hard to measure how much that disaster has changed tsunami readiness on the Pacific Northwest coast.

Althea Rizzo is the geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management. She says she's certain tsunami awareness has increased.

Read more
Environment
3:01 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Confirmation hearing for Sally Jewell

Northwest native Sally Jewell faced nearly three hours of questions at a hearing in Washington DC on her nomination to become the next US Secretary of the Interior. If confirmed, she said she’d take a balanced approach to protecting ecosystems while expanding energy production on public lands.

As CEO of REI, Jewell has strong credentials as an environmentalist. Some say – too strong.

Read more
Hanford nuclear reservation
10:32 am
Thu March 7, 2013

Inslee: Hanford leaking tank waste removal will take years

Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:55 am

RICHLAND, Wash. – It may take two to four years to even begin clearing radioactive waste from leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. That’s according to Washington Governor Jay Inslee. He toured the southeast Washington nuclear site Wednesday.

Read more
Environment
5:46 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Seattle Mayor aiming high on green infrastructure for stormwater

This bioswale in Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood manages about 80,000 gallons of stormwater annually. It was installed as part of a pedestrian improvement project and exemplifies how the city says it will reach its new ambitious goal.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU News

When you look around the streets of Seattle, you can expect to see less concrete and more greenery being put in over the next 12 years.

The City is planning to dramatically increase its use of green infrastructure to treat stormwater runoff.

Stormwater runoff is acknowledged as the single largest source of pollution in Puget Sound.

Read more
Environment
3:47 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Washington Governor pushes for carbon emission study

Alexandra Kocik Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants an independent work group to figure out how the state can meet lower greenhouse gas emission standards set in 2008.

The Democratic governor testified Tuesday before a House committee in Olympia. He said the state of Washington has not yet developed specific plans for its citizens to reduce their carbon footprint.

“We have given them a goal. We have given them a promise. We have not given them the tools to do the job.”

Read more
Health
3:34 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Regulators say leaking Hanford tanks pose no threat to locals

Department of Energy

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Environmental regulators are assuring lawmakers in Olympia that leaking radioactive material from tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has not yet reached ground water. The comments came at a hearing Thursday in the Washington Senate.

Hanford managers have said six single-shelled tanks are leaking nuclear waste.

Read more
Environment
5:53 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Inslee Expresses Concern Over Hanford Leaks, Other Areas of Site

Washington Closure Hanford

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee Wednesday expressed his continuing apprehension over the tank leaks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. He says as the Department of Energy and its contractors are evaluating more than 100 tanks with a new set of criteria, “I have real concerns about the remaining single shell tanks as well.”

Separately, Hanford managers said Wednesday they’ve successfully cleaned up a major part of contaminated land just north of Richland called the 300 Area.

Read more
transportation
6:04 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

WSDOT admits big mistakes on 520 pontoons

Additional work on the 520 bridge pontoons could cost tens of millions of dollars extra and push back the new bridge's opening by six months, after an expert review panel found design flaws that must be fixed.
Bellamy Pailthorp photo KPLU News

Big mistakes were made by the State Department of Transportation in its construction of the pontoons that will hold up the new 520 bridge across Lake Washington.

The agency says it is making repairs and design modifications to ensure the bridge will last the full 75 year lifespan promised.

Read more
Environment
5:57 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Inslee Says At Least Seven Tanks At Hanford Leaking

Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee says at least seven tanks of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are leaking, not two. He says the Department of Energy and its contractors have apparently miscalculated data that would have found the leaks earlier.

Read more
Environment
5:53 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Sen. Wyden: Hanford Will Be Priority For Next Energy Secretary

US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Problems at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will be a key issue in the confirmation hearings for the next Secretary of Energy. That’s what Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said after he toured the southeast Washington site Tuesday.

Wyden chairs the Senate committee that will consider President Obama’s pick to replace Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Oregon Democrat toured Hanford’s tank farms, where millions of gallons of radioactive waste is stored. Two of those tanks have possible leaks.

Read more
transportation planning
5:01 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Less guesswork: Seattle getting second electronic bicycle counter

Figuring out where to put more bike lanes in Seattle will get easier as the city gathers more data with electronic counters. A second one will be installed in South Seattle this spring.
clappstar Flickr

Five years ago, Seattle adopted a Bicycle Master Plan. It aims to triple the amount of bicycling in Seattle by the year 2017. But until just a few months ago, there was no way to accurately count cyclists. That’s changing.

Read more
Environment
4:32 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Structural engineers developing tsunami design code for coastal buildings

Ecola Architects, PC

SEATTLE - Building codes cover fire prevention, energy efficiency, and seismic safety among other things. Now a group of civil engineers from around the West is developing additions to the code to cover the threat of a tsunami.

Kent Yu of Degenkolb Engineers in Portland is one of the members of an American Society of Civil Engineers subcommittee drafting standards for "tsunami loads and effects."

"I think it is going to help make our communities more resilient."

Read more
Environment
10:18 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Climate change pushing water system upgrades

Snowpack in the crest of the Cascade Mountains provides storage for Seattle's Cedar River watershed. Lowering snow levels are expected because of global warming, putting the supply at risk.
Credit Courtsey Seattle Public Utilities

Global climate change is a reality that few people now deny. 2012 was the warmest year on record. So what about Seattle’s water supply? 

Managers say they need to speed up about $30-million of investment in a backup plan.

About two thirds of Seattle’s water comes from one of the most pristine sources in the nation. The Cedar River Watershed lies in more than 90,000 acres of protected land southeast of the city, near North Bend.

Read more

Pages