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

US Senate

Washington Senator Patty Murray says she’s looking for some change at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation with new leadership at the top. A new manager is taking over at a key contracting company that handles the leaking radioactive tank farms. And the Department of Energy has a new secretary, Ernest Moniz.

Murray toured the southeast Washington nuclear site Thursday to get briefings on the massive waste treatment plant being built and the ongoing cleanup of radioactive waste.

Northwest Cherry Growers - bit.ly/2RkX1Bg

Northwest cold snaps this spring mean not as many cherries this summer. Flower buds and bees don’t like low temperatures. And the cherries don’t like the rain.

Carrie Cordova / US Fish and Wildlife Service

The federal government has pushed back the possible threatened listing of two rare plants that could affect farmers in southeast Washington. Umtanum desert buckwheat and the White Bluffs bladderpod have become very controversial, because part of the plants’ habitat spans valuable crop ground.

It’s a big topic of conversation at the Country Mercantile restaurant where many Franklin County farmers lunch. Ami MacHugh is an area cherry and horse farmer whose land could be affected by the possible federal protections.

US Department of Energy

The Obama administration’s new secretary of energy says his top priorities are responding to climate change, safely managing the nation’s nuclear stockpile and fostering scientific research. Ernest Moniz made the comments at his swearing-in ceremony Tuesday.

He also mentioned the need to clean up the nation’s Cold War legacy waste. That would include work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington, “Including attention to the communities and workforce as we go into a somewhat uncertain future again, especially in terms of the budget environment.”

Mark Triplett / Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The people overseeing the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster are learning some valuable lessons from the long-running cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. A Japanese government delegation recently toured some of the southeast Washington site.

In Japan, workers in gloves and masks are grinding down sidewalks and roads, wiping down rooftops and bagging contaminated soil. Now, the problem is where to put all that radioactive waste from Fukushima.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

There’s a new development in the case of a Richland, Wash. florist who refused to sell flowers for a same sex couple’s wedding. The business owner’s lawyers announced a counter suit Thursday saying the florist “will not wilt.”

The owner of Arlene’s Flowers argues there are plenty of other shops in the Tri-Cities that could cater to a gay or lesbian wedding. But lawyers for Barronelle Stutzman say she’s refusing that business because of her religious beliefs.

Energy Northwest

Federal regulators say the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant is now back on course after an 11-year safety miscalculation. The new designation means the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington gets a more relaxed inspection and oversight status.

Between 2000 and 2011, workers at the nuclear plant used faulty estimates for how much radiation could escape during a crisis. That mistake and others were found in an inspection just last year.

Carrie Cordova / US Fish and Wildlife Service

Farmers in southeast Washington packed a County Commission hearing Tuesday morning in Pasco. They’re angry because a flowering desert plant called the White Bluffs bladderpod may be designated as a federally threatened species by next week.

It likes to live on high desert bluffs near the Columbia River. Since farming and development have taken over much of its desert habitat – the plant has become more rare.

CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company

Cleanup of a hazardous chemical called hexavalent chromium in the groundwater at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington is going faster than expected.

Hexavalent chromium is the nasty stuff that made Erin Brockovich famous down in California. The chemical was used to inhibit rust in coolant water in Hanford’s reactors. But that water was dumped into the desert, and now the cancer-causer is making its way toward the Columbia River in large groundwater plumes.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

A northeast Oregon onion producer has settled a sexual harassment suit for $150,000. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as the EEOC, brought the case on the behalf of a female seasonal farm worker at River Point Farms of Hermiston.

She says she faced verbal abuse from her male supervisor from 2005 to 2010. The supervisor requested sexual favors, constantly told her that women are inferior to men and that she should submit to beatings by her husband.

Zane Brown / InciWeb

Several forest fires are already burning in Western Washington and crews are mopping up a big one in central Oregon. There were also two grass fires that burned near Middleton, Idaho just west of Boise, this past weekend.

Dry winds and above average temperatures predicted this summer and fall, have fire managers preparing for an earlier than usual season.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Business is bustling at the Richland florist who faces a lawsuit over same-sex marriage. The shop's owner says she was standing up for her Christian values when she refused to sell flowers for a gay couple’s wedding. Now, the case has become a focal point of intense debate on social media across the globe.

On Arlene’s Flower’s Facebook page, right alongside advertisements for corsages and boutonnieres, there are hundreds of posts for and against same-sex marriage. Now there’s even a Boycott Arlene’s Flowers Facebook page. It has more than 500 likes.

Bureau of Reclamation

A major irrigation canal has sprung a leak in Eastern Washington. That could stress crops across a huge swath of the Columbia Basin just as the weather inches up into the 80s this weekend.

The river-like Main Canal of the aging Columbia Basin Project is largely out of commission. Six concrete panels that line it buckled and have to be replaced. Workers have to lower the flows on hundreds of miles of canals downstream from the break for days so they can pour new concrete.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

In the wine business one good review can mean a lot of money.

In a case that’s garnered national attention, a gay couple is suing their once favorite florist in southeast Washington. The case filed Thursday, is in addition to the anti-discrimination lawsuit filed by the state Attorney General last week.

Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll, both professionals in the Tri-Cities, have been a couple for almost nine years. The ACLU is bringing their case agains Arlene’s Flowers. The shop refused to sell flowers to the couple for their September wedding.

Doug Honig with the ACLU says that violates the Washington’s anti-discrimination law.

Rally for David Warner / Facebook

Two more suspects in the brutal beating of a professor at Washington State University in Pullman came forward to police Friday.

The two suspects have been released on the condition they don’t talk with other participants, go to bars or consume alcohol. Whitman County’s prosecutor is expected to file charges against all four suspects soon. Two are WSU students.

American studies professor David Warner is in serious, but stable, condition at a Spokane hospital following the March 30 beating.

C-SPAN

President Obama’s nominee for U.S. Energy Secretary says he’ll visit the Hanford Nuclear Reservation soon if he’s confirmed. 

MISSION, Ore. – When Louisville plays Connecticut in the NCAA women’s championship Tuesday, fans in Northwest Indian country will be cheering. That’s because two Native American sisters are leading the Louisville Cardinals and they hail from a reservation in northeast Oregon.

In Mission, Oregon and nearby Pendleton it’s pretty clear basketball’s a big deal. There are basketball camp names embroidered on people’s jackets, team bumper stickers are everywhere and lately – there have been a whole lot of house parties.

LaChapelle family

RICHLAND, Wash. – Jazz musicians from around the country will gather on [today] Sunday, to honor a musician who didn’t sell a lot of records but influenced three generations of jazz guitarists. John LaChapelle died last month at the age of 91 in Richland, Washington.

John LaChapelle only advertised for music students once in his more than 50-year career as a jazz guitar teacher. After that, it was all just referrals. Students say LaChapelle would show by example, use humor and rarely criticize.

White House

President Obama’s pick for energy secretary can expect a lot of questions about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation at a confirmation hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden chairs the committee considering physicist Ernest Moniz to head the sprawling federal agency.

As the new energy secretary, Ernest Moniz would be saddled with a lot at Hanford, never mind the rest of the nation. There are leaking tanks of radioactive waste, groundwater contamination and the troubled waste treatment plant meant to bind up 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge in glass.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

PASCO, Wash. – Northwest farmers are beginning to harvest the first asparagus of the year this week in southeast Washington. That’s a tad earlier than usual. And after last year's farm-labor shortage, growers across the region are keeping an eye on how many asparagus workers show up for the harvest.

At the Middleton farm stand near Pasco, Washington asparagus – both purple and green – is selling by the pound to passersby. Bins of fresh asparagus are brought here right off the fields. Workers come and go. At the helm is Laura Middleton.

Washington Closure Hanford and MSA

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers are trying to figure out who left a time capsule in the wall of a building there nearly 60 years ago. Demolition workers found a coffee can recently while they were tearing down a building near a reactor at the southeast Washington site.

“When I first saw it they had opened it just enough to see what was inside," says Archeologist Tom Marceau, who is managing the find. "They noticed it was filled with newspapers. They all date to mid to late September of 1955."

Anna King / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. - The U.S. Department of Energy says its wants to send 3 million gallons of radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to a storage site in New Mexico. That’s 3 million gallons out of a total of 56 million gallons of some of the most toxic stuff on earth.

But what is different about this waste in particular, and why some groups are against moving it to New Mexico?

At a recent news conference at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said, “We have some good news here today.”

Strickling Family

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Jason Strickling and his wife Lana of Pasco, Wash. are planning some extra time with the kids this summer. That’s because she works for a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor in southeast Washington and her employer is requiring her to take about five weeks of unpaid leave before September.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

 

RICHLAND, Wash. – A plan to ship some radioactive waste from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to New Mexico for storage won’t work. That was message Tuesday from three environmental watchdog groups. They’re asking the Obama Administration’s nominee for Secretary of Energy to drop the idea. 

Earlier this month, Governor Jay Inslee announced the federal government’s preferred storage site for about 3 million gallons of tank waste is salt caves in New Mexico. That’s out of 56 million gallons total stored at Hanford.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Up to three gallons of radioactive waste per day at Hanford seeps into the desert sand from underground tanks, not far from the Columbia River. That’s prompted Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to tour the remote site along with buses full of officials and media that roll through a sea of sagebrush.

The buses slow near some of the leaking radioactive underground tanks. Tom Fletcher, who manages the containment farms, points out the various groupings.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

MABTON, Wash. - Most American families have some kind of immigration lore -- think Ellis Island, the Oregon Trail and slave ships. At dinner tables across the Northwest, some Mexican-American families tell their own vivid tales. They regale each other with stories of relatives swimming to better opportunities across the Rio Grande or crossing the desert at night.

Yes, these crossings are illegal, but they also are part of a family’s history. If the U.S. Congress adopts comprehensive immigration reform this year, these types of border stories could begin to fade.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

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.

Governor Inslee strode around the Hanford site in smooth chestnut-leather cowboy boots. He was tailed by an entourage of two bus-loads of government officials and reporters. Inslee briskly walked between mammoth buildings at Hanford’s waste treatment plant and then drove by some of the six leaking underground waste tanks.

Office of the Governor

RICHLAND, Wash. - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says it may take two to four years to begin removing liquids from leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The Democratic governor made the comments Wednesday after a tour of the southeast Washington site.

The governor told reporters on the tour that there is no technology that can stop the leaks.

Tobin Fricke / Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/h99dl7h

RICHLAND, Wash. – As many as 4,800 workers could be furloughed or laid off at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. It’s the result of the federal spending cuts known as the sequester. Hanford will need to cut $182 million in cleanup work according to a federal letter to Washington Governor Jay Inslee released Tuesday.

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