Environment and Planning

Environment and Planning

Department of Energy. File photo of Yucca Mountain

RICHLAND, Wash. - A bipartisan group of senior senators is drafting a bill to overhaul the U.S. nuclear-waste program. The group, which includes Oregon’s Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, is aiming to find a permanent home for the nation’s radioactive waste.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

SPOKANE, Wash. - Leaders at Gonzaga University are asking What Would Jesus Do about climate change? The Jesuit school in Spokane, Wash., has adopted a plan for zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

Over the next four decades, Gonzaga University plans to make a dramatic switch to green energy, some of it generated at new facilities on campus. Meeting the goal will also require major cuts in energy use. Car travel to campus by students and faculty, and Zags basketball trips to away games are all part of the final emissions tally.

Long Metal Pipe Found On Northwest Coast

Jan 30, 2013
Washington State Parks

A team from Washington Fish and Wildlife is trying to figure out whether the newest rusty visitor to the Northwest coast came from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The 19-foot-long metal pipe landed at Cape Disappointment near Ilwaco, Wash.

State Parks spokeswoman Sandy Mealing says the metal tourist will reside in a storage area until it can pass a few more tests.

National Park Service

A dock that washed ashore on a remote Washington beach last month is now confirmed as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. This news comes just as the federal government requests bids from salvage companies to get rid of the huge hulk.

Wash. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

State and federal biologists say they are confident they have minimized the invasive species threat posed by a derelict dock that washed ashore last month in Olympic National Park. The concrete and steel dock appears to have drifted across the Pacific Ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan. But the story is not over yet.

National Park Service

Federal and state biologists are trekking back to a remote beach in Olympic National Park where a large dock washed ashore. The concrete and steel dock appears to have drifted across the Pacific Ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan.

Washington Marine Debris Task Force spokeswoman Virginia Painter says the primary goal of Thursday's expedition is to scrape potential invasive species off the hulk.

"All the agencies agreed that the invasive species removal has to be the first priority, so that is what this is about."

Signs Of The Times Buried In Holiday Trash Heaps

Dec 27, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

KELLOGG, Idaho - Now that presents have been opened, it's time for another tradition of the holiday season: bags upon bags of trash. And garbage collectors say they can gauge the state of the economy from this year’s haul.

National Park Service

Marine scientists say dozens of Japanese coastal species hitched a ride across the Pacific Ocean on a floating dock. The likely piece of tsunami debris washed ashore in Olympic National Park last week.

The preliminary list of marine hitchhikers includes 29 species "of Japanese coastal origin." Several are potentially invasive. National Park Service ecologist Scott Fradkin says he's concerned about the wilderness environment where the dock landed.

National Park Service

A reconnaissance team on the Washington coast has finally reached a large dock that washed ashore on an Olympic Peninsula beach early this week. The team found Japanese writing and Asian barnacles on the hollow concrete dock. That strongly suggests the hulk drifted across the ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan.

National Park Service ecologist Steven Fradkin says the dock is now being battered and punctured by heavy surf, but could potentially still be towed away in the New Year.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington environmental regulators say a new 6,000 page plan for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is very useful. But it lacks a definitive path forward for treating a large part of the radioactive sludge there.

The most radioactively contaminated waste at Hanford is set to be bound up into more stable glass logs in a huge factory being built here. But the government hasn’t decided exactly what to do with everything else -- the Low Activity Waste -- in this new massive cleanup roadmap.

Tom Banse. File photo of a Mazama pocket gopher

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Northwest may have another species listed as endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday proposed listing the Mazama pocket gopher as threatened in the South Puget Sound region of western Washington. This is the third time this fall the government has moved to protect a critter that depends on dwindling Northwest prairies or coastal grasslands.

US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The federal government plans to release a major document early next week that could guide a couple of decades worth of cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. This is important because it maps out decisions like where to bury the radioactive waste, and how much to leave in place.

The new document is huge -- 6,000 pages huge. And it’s taken about 10 years to draft.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

LONG BEACH, Wash. – It’s been more than four months since the last confirmed piece of Japanese tsunami debris washed ashore on the Pacific Northwest coast. Even sightings of suspected disaster debris have tapered way off in recent months. Does that mean we’re just in a lull or past the worst of it?

U.S. Fish & Wildlife

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - The last herds of reindeer in the continental United States are found in the Northwest. But even here, there aren't very many left. 

Randy Hoodenpyl

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Heavy rains and high winds are making it hard to get around parts of western Washington and northwest Oregon this afternoon. Flood watches and warnings are in effect across a wide area of the Northwest. At least half a dozen mudslides have blocked highways and rail lines since this morning .

The freight train of storms pummeling the Northwest has saturated soils. Some places are not getting enough time between downpours for the water to drain off. Oregon's Department of Geology put all of western Oregon on notice for increased potential of landslides.

The turkey is a quintessentially American bird, exported from the New World like corn and potatoes. But the turkey is not native to the Pacific Northwest. The wild turkeys you may have seen here are part of the bird’s comeback story.

The Northwest's wild turkeys are out-of-state newcomers. In fact, you might have lived here longer than turkeys have. A few were introduced in the 1960s, and then, “In the 1980s and 1990s, wild turkeys were brought into the Pacific Northwest," says This is Mikal Moore, a biologist with the National Wild Turkey Federation.

John Hafner / National Wild Turkey Federation

The turkey is a quintessentially American bird, exported from the New World like corn and potatoes. But the turkey is not native to the Pacific Northwest. The wild turkeys you may have seen here are part of the bird’s comeback story.

The Northwest's wild turkeys are out-of-state newcomers. In fact, you might have lived here longer than turkeys have. A few were introduced in the 1960s, and then, “In the 1980s and 1990s, wild turkeys were brought into the Pacific Northwest," says This is Mikal Moore, a biologist with the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Wolf Trapping Season Set To Open In Idaho

Nov 14, 2012
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The gray wolf remains on state endangered species lists in Oregon and Washington. But in Idaho, the state opens wolf trapping season Nov. 15. In fact, Idaho plans to offer more tags than last year.

Idaho game managers hope sportsmen -– and women -– will help reduce the state's wolf population. Hunters and trappers bagged at least 375 wolves last year.

This year, that number may grow. Each hunter can get as many as 10 wolf tags and a trained trapper can get five.

U.S. Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are readying pumping equipment at a slow-leaking radioactive waste tank in case the leak gets worse. A newly released report details why the tank became unstable.

Hanford officials say so far they’ve found no waste leaking into the environment from the tank called AY-102.

The new report says many of the tanks original welds from 40 years ago didn’t meet standards and had to be fixed before it was filled. Later, super-hot waste was added that was likely corrosive to the tank’s metal walls.

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