EarthFix Northwest Environmental News

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a cease and desist order Thursday against Bullseye Glass Co. in Portland.

The move comes after the Department of Environmental Quality found toxic levels of lead in air monitors near a daycare facility.

DEQ officials recorded lead levels at three times the 24-hour benchmark. Exposure to lead has been shown to decrease IQ levels in children.

Officials say thousands of cormorants abandoned their nests last weekend on an island in the Columbia River and they don’t know why. Reports indicate as many as 16,000 adult birds in the colony left their eggs behind to be eaten by predators including eagles, seagulls and crows.

The birds' mysterious departure comes after the latest wave of government-sanctioned cormorant shooting. It's part of a campaign to reduce the population of birds that are eating imperiled Columbia River salmon.

NW E-Cycle Programs Tested By Electronic Waste Exports

May 19, 2016

When Washington state inspectors visited the Seattle recycling operation Total Reclaim in March, they found several problems with its handling of hazardous waste. They missed the biggest one.

They discovered an improperly labeled trash can full of shop towels. They noted Total Reclaim’s failure to check a box on a form identifying itself as a recycler of dangerous waste. They found open buckets full of oil.

Multnomah County Health Department will hold a lead screening clinic at Southeast Health Center, at 3653 SE 34th Ave., 2-6 p.m. today (Friday 5/20).

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More than two-thirds of voters in Oregon's Hood River County passed a local ban on commercial water bottling in Tuesday’s election.

The measure was designed to block Nestle’s plans to build a $50 million water bottling plant in the city of Cascade Locks.

Backers of the measure are calling their victory a landslide, and a triumph of David over Goliath. But so far, Nestle and its supporters say they're ready to accept that narrative.

Increased carbon emissions are putting Puget Sound Dungeness crabs at risk, according to new research from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

When fossil fuels burn, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and much of it is eventually absorbed by the ocean.

Protesters Call For Feds To Stop Killing Cormorants

May 17, 2016

Dozens of protesters rallied outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Portland Tuesday, calling for federal officials to stop killing cormorants on the Columbia River.

They carried signs with pictures of the black seabirds with yellow beaks and banners calling for officials to "fix the dams" and "end the slaughter."

Federal agents have killed more than 4,500 cormorants in the past two years to keep them from eating threatened and endangered juvenile salmon.

A central Oregon conservation group has filed an intent to sue Portland General Electric over water quality on the lower Deschutes River.

The Deschutes River Alliance said PGE has violated water quality standards for several years by putting a water-mixing device in place at Round Butte Dam, one of three dams the utility operates on the lower Deschutes River.

The underwater device is designed to mix warm water from the top of the reservoir with the cold water at the bottom so water temperatures below the dams might more closely resemble conditions of a free-flowing river.

Timber-dependent counties, environmental groups and a Native American tribe are formally protesting a plan to manage 2.5 million acres of public land in Western Oregon.

Nearly 100 Tiny Quakes Shake Area Around Mount Hood

May 16, 2016

Mount Hood is trembling. They’re not big tremors. But there are a lot of them.

Close to 100 tiny quakes shook the area around Mount Hood Village between 6 p.m. Sunday night and Monday morning.

The largest had a magnitude of 1.9, meaning people didn’t actually feel it.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a quake has to reach a magnitude of 3 before people actually feel it — and even then, they’d have to be sitting quietly, likely on the upper floors of a building.

Fifty-two people were arrested Sunday after camping out on train tracks that service oil refineries in northern Puget Sound.

They were among hundreds of activists who demonstrated against fossil fuels in Anacortes, Washington.

Elizabeth Claydon was one of them. She’s 24 and has never been arrested before.

“We were woken up a little after 5 a.m. with SWAT teams around us,” Claydon said. She said she felt compelled as a young person to push for action on climate change.

University of Washington fisheries professor Ray Hilborn is facing accusations from the environmental group Greenpeace about conflicts of interest and failures to disclose industry funding in some of his research.

Citing documents obtained through public records requests, Greenpeace said Hilborn has received more than $3.56 million from 69 fishing or seafood industry groups since 2003, making up more than 20 percent of his outside funding.

It’s the kind of foggy day you’d expect at Redwood National Park on the Northern California coast. The headlands are shrouded in mist and the gray-blue ocean churns against the shore.

“This place is called Shin-yvslh-sri~ – the Summer Place,” says Suntayea Steinruck a member of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation and Tribal Heritage Preservation Officer for Smith River Rancheria.

One of the leading makers of art glass in the Pacific Northwest has announced it will close its doors.

Spectrum Glass, based in Woodinville, Washington, is one of three top art glass producers in the region.

It's a competitor with Portland's Bullseye Glass, and a sometime collaborator with another Portland firm, Uroboros.

This weekend, thousands of environmental protesters will rally to block the oil flowing to refineries near Anacortes, Washington. But some worry the event may also block the Salish Sea’s largest colony of great blue herons from feeding their young.

Federal land managers labored long and hard on their latest plan for the 2.6 million acres in western Oregon known as the O&C lands.

And they admit it was crafted, at least in part, to avoid protracted legal battles.

But the plan hadn’t even been officially released yet when it began gathering threats of lawsuits from all sides.

Jim Whittington, with the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, says the agency’s four-year effort to update its management plan for the O&C lands hits the sweet spot.

On Monday federal officials defined the critical habitat for a rare Northwest creature: the Oregon spotted frog. That designation is required since the frog was listed as threatened in 2014.You'd be lucky to see or hear this frog.

The Oregon spotted frog is two-to-four inches long and is disguised by dark spots. It lives entirely in water (unlike many frogs who live partly on land) and makes low tapping sounds instead of a croak.

The Lummi Nation's Tribal Chairman Timothy Ballew pulled fellow council member Travis Brockie into his office to announce the big news:

He’d just gotten off the phone with Col. John Buck of the Army Corps of Engineers.

After four years of back and forth between the tribe and its adversaries, the Corps had decided not to permit a coal-shipping terminal on the north shore of Puget Sound; such a development would have done unacceptable harm to the Lummi's ability to fish those waters as their treaty with the U.S. government calls for.

High above the Pacific Ocean in a plane headed for Hong Kong, most of the passengers are fast asleep.

But not Jim Puckett. His eyes are fixed on the glowing screen of his laptop. Little orange markers dot a satellite image. He squints at the pixelated terrain trying to make out telltale signs.

He’s searching for America’s electronic waste.

“People have the right to know where their stuff goes,” he says.

You buy a new phone or computer and you take your old one to a local recycler. It's the green thing to do, right?

Well, it turns out a lot of those devices may not be getting recycled at all. The United States is the single largest producer of electronic waste, generating almost 8 million tons a year.

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