Environment

Stories about the environment focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KPLU's Environment reporter, Bellamy Pailthorp.

Bert van Dijk / Flickr

Washington officials say residents have recycled more than 100 million pounds since the state's electronics recycling program began in January 2009.

In Seattle, residents have hit an all-time high in recycling of all products, according to the City of Seattle’s annual recycling report to be released Wednesday.

Idaho National Lab / Flickr

A new facility at the Idaho National Laboratory would test the effects of radiation on the materials that could be used to build future nuclear reactors. The lab is requesting a permit from the state of Idaho and the federal EPA to allow low levels of radiation emissions.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would breathe new life into the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The House will vote today on a larger spending bill that includes a budget increase for reviewing the project.

Some nuclear cleanup advocates are concerned that if Yucca Mountain doesn't open, it could mean high level waste could be permanently stored at Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Mayor McGinn's photostream / flickr.com

The city of Seattle is greening up its fleet of vehicles with the addition of five Nissan Leafs. The city plans to have a total of 35 Leafs by the end of 2012.

Seattle is one of 18 cities taking part in The EV Project, the nation's largest electric vehicle demonstration.

The eastern Washington town of Quincy may get another 28 large diesel engines for its growing data center industry. That's the subject of a state-run public meeting today at Quincy's city hall.

Some residents are concerned about the pollution that comes from the big generators.

Some of your Internet queries might get answered by one of the thousands of servers spinning away in the town of Quincy. Those servers can't go dark even for a second.

Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light says the first phase of its LED street light program has already saved the city $300,000. The utility installed 6,000 of the energy efficient lights in the past year between the Ship Canal and North 65th Street.

Environmentalists are seeking to stop exploratory drilling on forest lands near Mount St. Helens, as a Canadian company prepares next month to drill more holes to probe for copper, gold and other minerals.

John / Flickr

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Bellingham City Council has approved a ban on single-use plastic bags in an effort to cut down on litter and pollution.

Associated Press

FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. – A newborn calf has been spotted among one of the pods of killer whales returning to the Puget Sound.

Photo courtesy Washington State Dept of Health

If you see an unusually low-flying helicopter cruising above Seattle or Bellevue, don't worry. It’s just a project of the State Department of Health to measure naturally occurring radiation in King and Pierce Counties.

Courtesy of Robert Waddell

NEWPORT, Ore. – Climate change may push fish native to the Northwest coast further northward and bring fish from southern waters up here.

That's according to a forthcoming study by American and Canadian fisheries biologists. They suggest West Coast fishermen will need to adapt to different prey if the Pacific Ocean warms as projected over the next fifty years.

Courtesy of Leo Pauly

WALLA WALLA – Walla Walla park officials are certain the predator that has killed about two dozen birds at the Pioneer Park Aviary is a big raccoon.

A motion detector camera showed the raccoon stealing bait from a trap.

Conservation Northwest

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is developing a proposal that could make this year's wolf hunting season even more controversial. It would allow wolf hunting in most parts of Idaho without a cap on the total number of wolves being killed. As correspondent Jessica Robinson reports, that news from Idaho comes on the same day Washington announces some new wolf numbers of its own.

Joe Sebille / Courtesy of Conservation Northwest

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a hiker's photo confirms a sighting of a grizzly bear in Washington state's North Cascades for the first time in perhaps half a century.

Associated Press

A new plan released yesterday for saving the northern spotted owl is taking aim – maybe literally – at a rival bird.

Federal agency leaders said Thursday the spotted owl is losing out to a bigger, more aggressive invader from the eastern United States, the barred owl.

However, one biologist whose research led to the listing of the spotted owl believes shooting and other measures to control the barred owl are too little too late.  Because, he lamented, the spotted owl's population has shrunk over the last 15 years in spite of conservation efforts. (Interactive map inside)

Photo by Jim Thrailkill / USFWS

It’s an icon of the northwest.

With its muted brown feathers and dark eyes, the northern spotted owl doesn’t look all that impressive. But scientists say its survival indicates the health of the entire forest ecosystem. That’s why conservationists want the government to protect more of the old-growth habitat spotted owls prefer.

But a recovery plan for the owl due for release this morning is ruffing feathers.

Highline Community College MaST Center

The skeleton of a gray whale that died last year in Seattle is taking shape in Tacoma.

Highline Community College marine biologist Rus Higley, staff and volunteers are bleaching and assembling the skeleton for display in later this year. (Photo gallery inside)

Washington State Parks

The true cost of the new annual pass for Washington state parks will be $30 plus fees, when purchased online or at a licensed dealer.

Seth Bynum / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Just a day away from public viewing, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium has released a new photo (above) and a new video of the newborn clouded leopard cubs.

Seth Bynum / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

(Updated with new video)

The newborn clouded leopard cubs at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium will be available for public viewing this weekend, zoo officials say.

Washington Department of Ecology

It may look like a toxic "red tide," but don't panic. Scientists with the Washington Department of Ecology say the reddish orange streaks in Puget Sound this week appear to be a harmless algae bloom.

To the EM community - 

The safety of the DOE workforce and the communities around our facilities is of the utmost importance to Secretary Chu and is something that requires constant vigilance.  As he says regularly, "We must always be looking for ways to strengthen our approach to safety and foster a questioning attitude at each of our sites."   

Gary Davis

Are you willing to fork over extra money to register your car in order to keep buses running?

King County Executive Dow Constantine is betting you are. He’s urging the King County Council to pass an emergency ordinance temporarily increasing car tab fees by $20 per vehicle. The two-year charge would generate about $25 million per year and be used to preserve Metro Transit service at current levels.

Dr. Kim Patten / WSU Extension

WILLAPA BAY, Wash. – The usual story of invasive species goes something like this: An exotic plant or critter hitches a ride on an incoming cargo ship. Alarm bells go off. An eradication campaign starts. But now there's a non-native seaweed on the West Coast that breaks the mold. Japanese eelgrass has defenders along with its critics.

Ian Marsman / Flickr

The summer search is under way across Washington for the gypsy moth, an invasive insect capable of defoliating forests and urban landscapes.

Seth Bynum / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

(Update with new photo and video)

Chai Li, a female clouded leopard at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, gave birth to a litter of two cubs Tuesday. Staff had been on a round-the-clock pregnancy watch of the 23-month-old clouded leopard for the past 24 hours.

This is Chai Li’s first litter. She and the cubs’ father, 23-month-old Nah Fun, were born at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand and put together as a future breeding pair when they were five days old.

Suzanne Heaston, Bechtel’s spokeswoman in Richland. (Bechtel is the prime waste treatment plant contractor.)

WTP management and employees are fully committed to a strong nuclear safety and quality culture, and we welcome every opportunity to improve it. We will work with the DOE to carefully study the DNFSB report and any supporting information provided to identify further opportunities for enhancement.

Jen Stutsman, a DOE spokeswoman:

At every level of the Department of Energy, we take our obligation to protect the safety of our workers and the public very seriously. We are committed to fostering a questioning, safety-driven attitude among all of our federal and contractor employees. That is why the Department has in place a number of distinct safety programs that include independent nuclear safety reviews and an integrated safety management program headed by the DOE Office of Health, Safety and Security.

James Hall / Flicker

The city of Seattle's revamped Shoreline Master Plan would limit the number of people living on boats to 25 percent of slips in any marina. The boating website Three Sheets Northwest reports the proposed regulation would dramatically reduce the number of liveaboards and place new requirements on the marinas they call home.

RICHLAND, Wash. - A federal nuclear watchdog agency is questioning some of the science behind a massive treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. In a letter released Thursday, federal examiners say key treatment tanks could pose risks.

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