Anna King

Richland Correspondent

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.

The South Sound was her girlhood backyard and she knows its rocky beaches, mountain trails and cities well. She left the west side to attend Washington State University and went abroad to study language and culture in Italy.

While not on the job, Anna enjoys trail running, clam digging, hiking and wine tasting with friends. She's most at peace on top a Northwest mountain with her husband Andy Plymale and their muddy Aussie-dog Poa.

In 2016 Washington State University named Anna Woman of the Year, and the Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington Pro Chapter named her Journalist of the Year. Her many journalism awards include two Gracies, a Sigma Delta Chi medal and the David Douglas Award from the Washington State Historical Society.

Ways to Connect

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Twitter via AP

A critical navigation lock on the lower Columbia River reopened Friday night, Sept. 27,  according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps previously said the river would reopen Sept. 30, but crews were able to finish work a few days early.

That means barges full of grain and other materials waiting to get from Inland Northwest ports to Vancouver and Portland and out to export markets can resume. 

ANNA KING / NW News Network

You’ve heard the grim numbers about the Hanford nuclear site — the millions of gallons of radioactive waste and the growing price tag for cleanup.  

But now, the creators of a new musical work called “Nuclear Dreams” highlight the dreams and nightmares of people who work and live near Hanford in Washington’s Tri-Cities. 

ANNA KING / NW News Network

Outside of Pendleton, Oregon, Terry Anderson’s cattle have messed up his irrigation spigots. Again.

The cows knock them down pretty much daily, and he has to fix ‘em. He jumps out of his side-by-side vehicle and deftly rights them again or screws on a new spigot if they’re really bad.

“Cows just rub on stuff for the heck of it,” Terry Anderson says with a smile. “They love to scratch.”

Not One Drop Of Blood

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Twitter via AP

The Northwest’s soft white wheat harvest is in full swing, but that grain is going nowhere fast. That’s because of an emergency repair to a lock at Bonneville Dam on the Lower Columbia River.

So far, there’s no word on when the lock will reopen to barge traffic.

The bulk of the Northwest’s wheat is shipped down the Snake and Columbia rivers to Portland and Vancouver, Wash., which means all that traffic is on hold for the time being. The grain is largely exported to Pacific Rim countries.

Nicole Berg

There’s a lot of time to think while sitting behind the wheel of a combine. 

Right now, Northwest wheat farmers are wrapping up their harvest in many areas. But across the country, farmers are losing money on every load of that golden grain. 

“You have to be wired differently to do this work,” says farmer and grain consultant Kevin Duling, of Maupin, Ore. “It’s very frustrating. It’s very stressful.” 

Inciweb

You might have noticed some smoky skies lately, particularly in the Inland Northwest from the Williams Flats Fire near Grand Coulee Dam

Still, the fire season so far has been relatively mild as far as large fires and region-wide smoke inundation go. But that could change in late summer and early fall, according to a recent federal report from the National Interagency Fire Center.

Sheri Whitfield / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The fire that engulfed Notre Dame cathedral shocked the world earlier this year. And a wildfire in July on Rattlesnake Mountain in southeast Washington similarly shocked Northwest tribes.

Treeless Rattlesnake Mountain is over 3,600 wind-swept feet above sea level. It’s part of the Hanford Reach National Monument designated by President Clinton, home to rare plants and fauna. 

ANNA KING / NW News Network

It’s been a relatively quiet summer so far for Northwest wildland firefighters. But after a couple days of lightning storms in eastern and central Washington, paired with dry and windy conditions, more fires are starting to flare up.

For example, this scene Thursday when driving down Highway 26 in eastern Washington near Washtucna:

Franklin County Fire District 13

Updated Friday, July 19, 11 p.m. PT

A wildfire continued burning today near the Hanford Nuclear Site on and around the Hanford Reach National Monument. The Cold Creek Fire is burning sensitive, federally protected habitat. As of Friday evening it was estimated at nearly 42,000 acres and 60 percent containment.

Courtesy Michele Gerber

A new federal report says that a massive building at the Hanford Nuclear Site is worse off than managers thought. 

The so-called PUREX -- Plutonium Uranium Extraction -- plant isn’t clean. Starting in 1956 the plant processed loads of plutonium. Its walls are up to 6 feet thick, and it’s as long as three football fields.

PUREX is located within Hanford’s 200 East Area. It’s about 7 miles from the Columbia River and 5 miles from State Highway 240.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Home-delivered fast food is a booming global business, but when it comes to French fries, there’s a hitch. 

They often get soggy on the ride. So now, top fry-makers are racing to perfect a crispy fry that can survive a 15-minute ride with a food delivery service. Companies right here in the Northwest are frying up a crisp solution to this soggy situation.

To truly get the facts on delivered French fries, I ordered some.

ANNA KING / NW News Network

Several years ago, Union Wine Company of Tualatin, Oregon, put some wine in cans for a food festival. It was such a hit, says owner Ryan Harms, he decided to do it as his main business.  

“I think there are a lot of indicators that are helping us feel confident about our continued investment and what we’re doing,” Harms says.

Now, Union ships its Underwood-branded cans to 49 states and 11 countries. Other big wineries have noticed.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld its earlier decision against a Richland florist who refused to sell wedding flowers to a gay couple.

ANNA KING/NW News Network

Fire crews in central Washington are battling one of the largest fires yet this year in the state.

The so-called 243 Fire in Grant County grew to an estimated 5,000 acres Tuesday after spreading overnight Monday. It’s just outside of Royal City, east of Vantage and Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River.

Courtesy of PNNL

As a U.S. Department of Energy plane flew over the Amazon rainforest, it sipped and sampled air in real time.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientist Manish Shrivastava sampled the air over the Amazon to come up with a scientifically accurate baseline of pre-industrial air.

Courtesy of Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance

At the Hanford Nuclear Site in southeastern Washington, and across the West, winter’s deep snow and a cool spring have produced lots of brush and grass.

That’s a problem for the coming fire season.  

Hanford and the region surrounding it is a desert. Sagebrush and bunchgrass stud the site. But there’s also a lot of invasive cheatgrass that forms a brittle shag carpet across the landscape. And then there are drifts of tumbleweeds. The site’s a bit like an expansive fire starter. It’s all fine if there isn’t a spark.

ANNA KING/NW NEWS NETWORK

A worker at the Hanford Nuclear Site was recently contaminated with a speck of radioactive material after work in a lab building scheduled for demolition. 

It’s all happening at what’s called the 324 Building at Hanford, not far from Richland, Wash., in a research lab that worked with radioactive materials. There’s been a large radioactive leak into the soil beneath the lab -- mostly cesium and strontium. The lab’s being prepped to get at that contaminated soil, and then demolish the building. 

ANNA KING/NW NEWS NETWORK

Like the crumbling gasket in your kitchen faucet, sometimes even small parts can mean a lot. Now, federal watchdogs are looking into all types of parts at a $17 billion construction project at the Hanford Nuclear Site.

The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Energy has found a sample of parts going into a large waste treatment plant at Hanford had problems.

Energy Northwest

Have you ever ignored your car’s oil change a bit too long? That’s essentially what happened at the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant this past winter. It’s the latest “green finding” for the Columbia Generating Station near Richland, Washington.

ANNA KING / NW News Network

We roll up a long, gravel road about 20 miles outside Mattawa, a small farming town in central Washington state.

We’re on the King Fuji Ranch where there's four suspected cases of the mumps and over a 100 exposed workers quarantined.

Courtesy U.S. Deptartment of Energy

The project to stabilize and seal a large tunnel of radioactive waste has been completed at the Hanford nuclear reservation, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor.

The so-called Tunnel 2 project started in October 2018, at the massive Washington cleanup site near Richland.

ANNA KING / NW News Network

Asparagus cutters bend deep over their work in the early morning light. Colorful plastic bins stack like giant legos amid the scrubby fields north of Pasco, Washington.

Growers in Washington, California and Michigan raise the majority of the nation’s domestic asparagus -- and Washington’s season is on.

But business in U.S. spears is noticeably dwindling.

That’s because there’s increasing amounts of cheaper asparagus from Peru and Mexico coming in: fresh, canned and frozen. And that’s cutting into profits for U.S. growers.

GOOGLE MAPS

Health officials in Grant County, Washington are responding to four probable cases of mumps.

One case has been lab confirmed so far, while the others are still being evaluated. Now county health officials are rallying together a vaccine clinic to treat hundreds of exposed people. 

ANNA KING / NW News Network

Gary Middleton is worried about his cherry and blueberry buds outside of Eltopia, Washington. 

They’re developing late. And it’s gnawing at him.

“Obviously it’s going to move the harvest dates back,” Middleton says. “I would anticipate we’re 7 to 10 days behind a normal harvest.”

A week or so might not seem like a big deal to a non-farmer, but that short window can mean the difference between higher prices for Middleton’s crop, or a potential loss on his harvest.

ANNA KING / NW News Network

Circle irrigation pivot lines fan out in the distance -- dark skeletons against the dirty snow and matching sky.

Ed Schneider has grown french-fry-making spuds here near Pasco, Wash., for 40 years. But this year America’s fries are on the line.

Jane Abel/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Right now, in the Northwest’s high desert, the biscuit root should be ready to bloom.

Pregnant ground squirrels should be up to the surface, munching fresh shoots. But that’s not happening.

On much of Washington’s and Oregon’s eastside, snow has been on the ground for six weeks, and it has some experts wondering how life will shake out for stressed flora and fauna.

Heidi Newsome, is a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service out of Burbank, Wash.

Greta Mart/KCBX

Almond bloom comes nearly all at once in California — a flush of delicate pale blooms that unfold around Valentine's Day.

And beekeeper Bret Adee is hustling to get his hives ready, working through them on a Central Valley ranch before placing them in orchards.

He deftly tap-taps open a hive. "We're gonna open this up, and you're going to see a whole lot of bees here," Adee says.

Under the lid, the exposed sleepy occupants hum away. He uses a handheld smoker to keep them calm and huddled around their queen.

Energy Northwest

The federal government recently doled out two “green findings” to the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear reactor.

The Columbia Generating Station, near Richland, is run by the utility Energy Northwest.

GARY KING

In the Northwest’s Cascades, there’s snow at high elevations, but it’s scored by vertical lines showing where rain has run downhill.

This warm El Niño winter in the region is worrying water managers and farmers. Many Washington and Oregon reservoirs aren’t filling up like they should, and snowpack levels are below average in many areas.  

ANNA KING / NORTHWEST NEWS NETWORK

new proposal from the Trump administration could dramatically change the way the government cleans up radioactive tank waste at t

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