Earthfix Northwest Environmental News

NPR Story
8:58 am
Wed April 9, 2014

The Ultimate Reuse: Shipping Containers For Buildings

Starbucks has been rolling out drive-through, walk-up locations made out of recycled shipping containers. This location is in Tukwila, Washington.
Flickr Photo/vmax137 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The cost of housing in the city is making many people think small, to embrace the micro movement that loves to reuse and recycle. Enter the idea of a shipping container as a building – a natural in a port city like Seattle, which handles 1.6 million container units in a year.

With all that potential lying around Seattle, something had to happen. Worldwide, 450,000 containers are sent to scrap every year. An idea struck Starbucks Coffee designers as they looked out a window of their Sodo headquarters near the Port of Seattle at the containers in the shipping yard.

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Earthfix
5:00 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

State Investigation Finds Violations in Southern Oregon Pesticide Case

Kathyrn Rickard. Rickard says she developed a rash, stomachache and headache. She also says her dogs and cats vomited after the spray.
Amelia Templeton

A helicopter hired to spray herbicides in Curry County last fall allowed chemicals to get onto neighboring properties and violated pesticide laws, according to an Oregon Department of Agriculture investigation announced Tuesday.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Tue April 8, 2014

The Wetland That Saved Highway 101 From Flooding

A restoration project last year allowed this wetland to flood while an infamous stretch of Highway 101 stayed dry this winter.
Courtesy of North Coast Land Conservancy

Every winter on Oregon's north coast, the Necanicum River spills out over its banks during heavy rains and swallows the road just south of Seaside. This happens at least once -– and up to seven times -- a year.

But not this year.

Last summer, highway officials teamed up with a local landowner to use a nearby wetland as a natural sponge for floodwater. By removing a mile-long wall of dirt, they freed the river to spread out into its natural flood plain. Since then, even when the Necanicum has over-topped its banks, it hasn't sent its waters to flood the highway.

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Earthfix
6:25 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

New Rules For Commercial Composting In Portland: Food Only

Within a year, commercial composting in Portland will be limited to food only.
OPB

A big change is on the way for businesses that compost commercial food waste in Portland.

Metro, the regional government that oversees the city's commercial food waste collection, is changing the rules for what kind of material it accepts at its Portland transfer station.

Within a year, the program will restrict commercial compost collection in Portland to food scraps only. That means businesses will not be able to compost food-related materials such as napkins, plates or compostable plastic utensils. The change does not affect residential curbside food scrap collections.

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Earthfix
5:53 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Investigative Documents Show Pilot Failed To Disclose Herbicides Used On Timberland

Michelle Martin with her horses. Martin is concerned her horses were sickened as a result of herbicide exposure.
Amelia Templeton

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 6:00 pm

UPDATE (Tuesday, April 8):

The Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed Tuesday its investigation uncovered multiple violations of pesticide law by Pacific Air Research, including that the company allowed pesticides to fall on neighboring properties, according to a news release.

ODA also stated that Pacific Air Research applied an herbicide above the maximum amount allowed by the label and provided false records that misled the state's investigation. Both are violations that could result in civil penalties.

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Earthfix
4:49 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

'Silicon Forest' Could Gain New Meaning With High-Tech Uses For Trees

The cellulose from trees, like these being harvested for pulp and paper, can now be processed into high-tech energy storage devices.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture

Scientists at Oregon State University may have discovered a new high-tech use for the state’s abundant forests: the trees could play a big role in making energy storage devices.

It's the cellulose found in trees that scientists have zeroed in on. That cellulose could be a key component in something called supercapacitors.

Supercapacitors are high-power energy devices with applications ranging from electronics to cars, aviation to alternative energy.

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NPR Story
1:00 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Pollution Is Not The Top Priority At Oso Landslide Site, But It Is A Concern

Propane tanks floated to the surface of the massive landslide debris field that engulfed 42 homes near Oso, Washington.
Ashley Ahearn

OSO, Wash. -- An orange backhoe beeps in the background as cleanup workers and search dogs slog through the gray-blue clay of the Oso landslide zone. In the distance a muddy American flag waves over hummocks of exposed roots, broken trees and the remnants of the 42 homes that used to line this stretch of highway in the Cascade Mountains northeast of Seattle.

The death toll stands at 33 with 1 people still missing. Dozens of homes were destroyed.

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Earthfix
5:19 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Urged To Support Oil Train Funding, Northwest Senator Seeks Answers

Oregon Senators Ron Wyden, left, and Jeff Merkley met with local officials in Portland to discuss oil train safety earlier this year. Now they're calling for a new fund devoted to it.
Tony Schick

Fellow U.S. senators are calling on Washington's Patty Murray to support major investments in oil train safety, but first she wants some answers.

Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, plans to question federal and local officials during a hearing Wednesday about safety issues involved in transporting crude by rail. Among those she’ll question:

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Earthfix
5:15 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Oregon Wave Energy Project Sinks

More than 100 energy buoys like this were planned to be deployed in Pacific Ocean near Reedsport, Ore. After canceling the larger of two phases of the project in March, the company behind the endeavor has now dropped the entire venture.
Ocean Power Technologies

Plans to deploy Oregon’s first commercial wave energy project have been formally dropped by the company.

After spending millions on the project off the coast of Reedsport, Ore., Ocean Power Technologies pulled the plug and will focus on another project in Australia.

Kevin Watkins, a company representative, said this would have actually been the first such project in the Western Hemisphere — but they had trouble securing adequate funds.

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Earthfix
5:00 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

New Information Released In Southern Oregon Chemical Spraying Case

John and Barbara Burns in the yard of their home in the Southern Oregon community of Cedar Valley. Newly released investigative documents show two chemicals used to kill trees on a logging site were also detected on their property.
Amelia Templeton/OPB

Residents in a coastal Southern Oregon community have been trying since October to find out whether they were exposed to herbicides that a timber company sprayed on a nearby clearcut.

After months of waiting, new information has finally come out: state inspectors say they detected trace amounts of two herbicides on the leaves of apple trees in the neighborhood.

On Oct. 16, a helicopter pilot sprayed herbicide on 176 acres of clearcut forest that belongs to Crook Timberlands.

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