EVENT: Movie – What Lies Upstream

Event Date:

Friday, December 7, 2018 – 7:00pm
Event Location:

Maier Performance Hall

Please join Peninsula College’s Magic of Cinema and the Sierra Club North Olympic Group on Friday, December 7th, at 7 p.m. in the Maier Performance Hall for a screening of What Lies Upstream.

In this documentary exposé, investigative filmmaker Cullen Hoback travels to West Virginia to study the unprecedented loss of clean water for over 300,000 Americans.

In January 2014 West Virginia citizens notice that their tap water has a peculiar smell. It is discovered that a mysterious chemical, MCHM, has leaked into the Elk River, poisoning the drinking-water supply for nearly half of West Virginia. Hoback arrives at the state’s capital during the heart of the crisis, his interest piqued by his family ties to the state and a desire to understand why this contamination happened. But getting to the bottom of this seemingly simple question is about to lead him down a rabbit hole of an unimaginable scale.

Initially all the blame seems to be directed at Freedom Industries, the company that spilled MCHM, the chemical that traveled downstream before entering the water intake. But locals reveal that Freedom Industries is only one small facility in the area they call “The Chemical Valley.” While it’s obvious that Freedom Industries plays a key role in this contamination, it is equally obvious that their chemical tanks were allowed to completely erode over time without proper government oversight or inspection.

As Hoback continues his investigation, he meets West Virginia Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman, who serves as the head of the state’s Department of Environment Protection, which regulates all the industry in the state and handles all inspections. Huffman admits that Freedom Industries’ tanks hadn’t been inspected since 1993, but initially dismisses fears that MCHM is harmful. At the same time, Dr. Rahul Gupta, who runs the local health department, is the only official who seems concerned that the chemical might have negative long-term health effects. Yet, despite little scientific evidence, the CDC determines what amount of MCHM is safe for residents to drink.

Hoback continues to expand his study of drinking water in West Virginia to include outlying areas, where it quickly becomes clear that coal and chemical production have gone unchecked for decades. Virtually all the rivers and streams aren’t suitable drinking water sources.

Upon examination, he discovers a shocking failure of regulatory framework from both state and federal agencies and a wrecked political system. While he’s deep into his work in West Virginia, a similar water crisis strikes Flint, Michigan supporting the case that the entire system to protect drinking water in America is fundamentally broken.

The film also focuses on the 80,000 plus chemicals used in the US that enter our sewer streams, contaminate our water systems, and create runoff threatening our food and waters

The public knows very little about what chemicals are in the water supply and even less about the weak regulations and enforcement practices meant to protect it. Just because you don’t live in West Virginia or Flint doesn’t mean your water is safe.

This screening is free and open to the public. Following the film, there will be a speaker on WA State water pollution.

For more information contact Dr. Helen Lovejoy@ hlovejoy@pencol.edu.

 

Clallam County withdraws Finding of Non Significance for Dungeness Spit aquaculture project

As some of you may know, there has been a proposal to put a oyster farm with approx. 150,000 bags of oysters in an approx. 34 acre section of the nearshore inside Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is closed to virtually all human activity other than walking on the Spit. It is illegal to fly a kite there or throw a Frisbee.  The application for the farm to go in, drew widespread condemnation from a wide range of citizens, including a very detailed letter of concerns from the project leader of the Wildlife Refuge, which was detailed in an earlier article on this news site. https://olyopen.com/2018/04/10/concerns-raised-over-dungeness-spit-oyster-farm-application/

The project has raised questions from many about the appropriateness of allowing commercial aquaculture inside a national wildlife reserve. Similar issues are being raised across the country as Scott Pruitt, the head of the Department of Interior continues  “opening new mineral and oil and gas leasing opportunities in protected lands, easing drilling regulations, and rolling back habitat protections for endangered species” (National Geographic 2/2/2018) including Bears Ears National Monument, which includes sacred locations of a number of tribes.

The Clallam County Department of Community Development has announced the withdrawal of  the Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) issued on February 23, 2018 for the preparation of a site specific Environmental Assessment to address the impacts to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and other issues raised.

The Army Corps of Engineers also weighed in, stating that the project would be evaluated as a “Standard Individual Permit” so not eligible for a nationwide permit, which would have allowed the county to proceed on a DNS. The Corp stated that the impacts would be “more than minimal”.

A six month continuance was approved for the preparation of this document.

DCD will reopen the comment period when it is completed.

The full announcement is here:

20180511103337 Dungeness Spit

 

EVENT:The Battle Against Light Pollution – Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM

The Battle Against Light Pollution will be held on  Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM in the Port Angeles Library Carver Meeting Room, 2210 South Peabody Street.  It is being hosted by the Sierra Club North Olympic Group as part of its free series of public programs.

Come peer through the lens of the International Dark-Sky Association — its efforts to combat light pollution and recognize Dark Sky Preserves.

Explore light pollution causes, effects on wildlife and human health, and its carbon footprint.

Learn some astronomy and about our connection to the night sky.

Hear how to effectively fight and eliminate light pollution.

It’s a fight we can win, if we have the will, say David W. Ingram, Chapter Leader of Dark Skies Northwest (DSNW and John L. Goar, Astronomy Outreach Volunteer for Olympic National Park and member of the International Dark-Sky Association. (IDA)

The IDA is a non-profit organization based in Tucson, AZ.  It is dedicated to preserving the natural nighttime environment by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation and promoting environmentally friendly methods to provide minimally intrusive outdoor lighting.

Ingram’s leadership covers Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  His work as an IDA chapter leader includes education and public outreach presentations and support and empowerment to private citizens, conservation and environmental organizations, schools, local, state and national organizations.

Ingram retired from the Boeing Company after a 34-year career in aviation and space technology.  His personal focus on science, the night sky and amateur astronomy began in Indiana during his high school years in the mid-1960s.  Over the past decades, he has joined numerous astronomy societies and related organizations and now serves as the Boeing Employees’ Astronomical Society President, the Seattle Astronomical Society Vice President of Education, and the IDA/Dark Skies Northwest (DKNW) representative to a number of astronomy societies in the Puget Sound area.  In addition to his IDA chapter leader duties with

DKNW, Ingram provides volunteer time to the summer astronomy program at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Learn more at  <www.darksky.org>

John L. Goar teaches high school science at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo WA. In addition to being the Astronomy Outreach Volunteer for Olympic National Park, and winning the 2016 George and Helen Hartzog Volunteer National Park Service Award, Goar is an officer of the Olympic Astronomical Society and the Astronomical League (Binocular Messier Program Coordinator and Asteroid Observing Program Coordinator), as well as Secretary of the Olympic Astronomical Society, Bremerton, WA.

Goar is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley.  As a student project, he built a 12.5 inch Dobsonian telescope, and later built a 20 inch diameter mirror scope.  Goar has been an amateur astronomer since 2000, and is passionate about preserving dark night skies.  He has led free public telescope programs at Hurricane Ridge for eight summers, while also leading full moon hikes to Hurricane Hill.

Goar is a certified master observer with the Astronomical League, a confederation of astronomy clubs in the US. Hwas also awarded the Presidential Lifetime Service Award in 2017 by President Barack Obama.

Information and a schedule for summer astronomy programs in 2018 can be found at his website: <www.olympictelescope.com>

David W. Ingram                            John L. Goar

https://sierraclub.org/washington/north-olympic

MEDIA RELEASE

Contact:  Darlene Schanfald

Sierra Club North Olympic Group

360-681-7565

 

 

EVENT: Day of Science in Port Angeles – APRIL 22nd.

Science Celebration Flyer final

Port Angeles, Combined Sewer Overflow system builder in $1 million dispute – PDN

It seems that Port Angeles can’t do any kind of city project without cost overruns or scandals. It makes one wonder is overseeing their project management and bid process. It’s worth noting that a leading environmental activist over there, Darlene Schanfeld,argued against spending the money on this project in the first place, as it’s being built on a piece of property that is very likely to be inundated in any kind of major earthquake. The taxpayers of PA can only hope that comes later than sooner.

A $1 million dispute centered on building delays and construction costs has bubbled up between city officials and the builder of key components of the city’s new $47 million Combined Sewer Overflow system, the priciest public works project in the city’s history. An auditing firm will review Bellingham-based TEK Construction Inc. records today for the city, Public Works and Utilities Director Craig Fulton told City Council members at their regular meeting Tuesday. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/port-angeles-combined-sewer-overflow-system-builder-in-1-million-dispute/

Return of the River – A homerun of a movie for Gussman and Plumb

Just got out of the world premiere of  ‘Return of the River”, the film that likely will be considered the definitive work on the Elwha Dam removal.  This film, years in the making, was a labor of love for the two Peninsula based filmmakers, John Gussman and Jessica Plumb. And it was great to see it premiered here at the Port Townsend Film Festival.

The film tracks in detail the history of the dam, but more importantly the place that is the Elwha River, the feel for the Olympic Peninsula then and now, and a great depth of interviews with people that were instrumental, on both sides of the controversial project.  It is impossible not to come away impressed with the idea that hard things to do take a long time, and a lot of consensus building. From the interviews with leading politicians, mill managers, environmentalists, writers, biologists, and most importantly, the tribal members of the Lower Elwha Tribe, who never gave up hope to bring back the historic runs. There were so many people who played significant small roles in this drama. Gussman and Plumb treated all with the respect they deserve. There are no demeaning ‘heroes and villains’ caricatures.

It is almost trite to say that certain stories are ‘epic’ and ‘pivotal’ but the removal of the Elwha Dam has been just that. It has galvanized world attention more than almost any other single environmental event of the last ten years, because it is a message of hope. Hope that we can restore what we have destroyed. Gussman and Plumb have captured that story, distilled it to 70 minutes, and given fair treatment to all sides, and points of view. More than ever, we need stories of hope in the face of ever mounting environmental problems to solve.

In the last week, I’ve posted the story that bull trout have been seen in the upper Elwha for the first time in a century. Also that the shores of the Elwha estuary are turning back into a clam bed capable  sand spit. The power of restoration is an amazing thing to watch.  The restoration of this river, with it’s unique short run from sea to protected park, is possible, and is happening, right now, in front of our eyes for just taking the time to go look.

Gussman and Plumb, along with the rest of their crew, have given us the story, in all it’s facets. A well crafted storyline, beautiful filmmaking, solid editing, a wonderful original soundtrack, animation when needed of the hard concepts.

Congratulations for a remarkable piece of work. A 5 star must see film.

‘Tides of Change’ explores the health of ocean waters off North Olympic Peninsula – PDN

“Tides of Change” is a new Science Minute Movie by the North Coast and Cascades Science Learning Network that takes viewers behind-the-scenes of Olympic National Park with coastal ecologist Steve Fradkin as he traverses “one of the most wild, scenic coastlines in North America” to monitor the health of the park’s rocky intertidal community. (Peninsula Daily News)

Read the whole story:

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140317/NEWS/140319981/video-8212-tides-of-change-explores-the-health-of-ocean-waters

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