Environment and Planning

Environment and Planning

Tom Banse. File photo of a Mazama pocket gopher

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is postponing a controversial decision on whether to list the Mazama pocket gopher as a threatened species in the South Puget Sound area.

Washington State manager Ken Berg says his agency wants six additional months to consider input from upset landowners and affected counties. Berg says farmers and ranchers in Thurston County claim there are more pocket gophers than the government realizes and that they can co-exist with human activity.

Washington Department of Ecoology. An oil-containment boom and oil-absorbing pads are deployed around the Granby.

A spill cleanup crew remains on the scene Thursday near Longview where an old wooden boat sunk in a side channel of the Columbia River.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Washington state officials say that a court-ordered construction deadline has been missed on part of the Hanford’s radioactive waste treatment plant.

The federal government disagrees.

The Waste Treatment Plant at Hanford has had its share of construction and technical trouble. The federal plant should be completed by 2019, and will treat 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge. Currently, that gunk is stewing away in aging underground tanks near the Columbia River. Some of those tanks are believed to be leaking.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington are investigating increased radiological readings at a tank farm there. It happened Wednesday at about 9:30 p.m. Part of the massive site was shut down. 

A carcinogen called hexavalent chromium has been an environmental problem in many places, from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to groundwater in California.

Remember Erin Brockovich?

Hexavalent chromium is expensive to monitor underground. Now, a Richland company is testing a new real-time sensor that could help clean-up contaminated sites around the world.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Northwest beekeepers are applauding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for requiring certain pesticides to carry a clearer warning label. The idea is to prevent home gardeners and farmers from inadvertently harming beneficial pollinators, like bees.

The EPA directive applies to widely used bug killers, rose and flower treatments, and grub controls. Future product labels will have to carry specific warnings under a picture of a bee.

Department of Energy. File photo of Yucca Mountain

Washington’s state Attorney General is praising an appeals court decision on a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The ruling requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to get the licensing process back on track for Yucca Mountain.

The state of Washington wants Yucca Mountain to be the permanent waste repository for radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. But President Obama buried the project because of opposition from Nevada’s political leaders.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The national debate over oil development took an unusual turn on an Idaho highway early Tuesday morning. For two hours, members of the Nez Perce Tribe blocked the passage of a giant water evaporator headed for the oil sands of Alberta, Canada.

Dan Jenkins, ODFW

Oregon's Congressional members are working on a plan that would dramatically increase logging on some federally-owned forest land in the southwest corner of the state. A House panel advanced a measure Wednesday that would allow increased timber harvests in struggling timber counties.

The bill is relatively small in scope -- it only applies to a couple of million acres of land formerly owned by a railroad company in southwest Oregon. But supporters say it's the trigger those communities need to break away from decades of economic decline.

Hanford.gov

Federal officials are trying to figure out what to do about radioactive materials that remain at a place near the Columbia River known as the 300 Area. It’s the subject of a series of public meetings that kick off this week.

The 300 Area was where workers milled uranium rods and tested ways to process plutonium during WWII and the Cold War. They poured about 2 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste a day into sandy ponds and trenches right next to the Columbia River. Cleaning up buildings and material there has kept crews busy for 20 years.

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