‘The smell will knock you off your feet’: mass mussel die-offs baffle scientists | Environment | The Guardian

The Chehalis River is one of the locations mentioned in this article.

Mussels, the backbone of the river ecosystem because they control silt levels and filter water, are facing a mysterious affliction
— Read on www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/14/the-smell-will-knock-you-off-your-feet-mass-mussel-die-offs-baffle-scientists

Navy wants to use more Washington state parks for stealth SEAL training – Seattle Times

Just say no to this insanity! Please let your state and federal representatives know how you feel.

The Navy wants to use 29 state maritime parks for stealth SEAL training, but state parks officials have yet to begin a review of the plan and say approval is no sure thing.


In-Depth Article on Navy Training Plans – Truthout

Local writer Dahr Jamail has written the first in-depth piece I’ve seen on the Navy plans for expansion of it’s electronic warfare training. He brings home the key issues that this entire program raises. And the casual way that the Navy went about expecting to push through this plan.  The core of the story is not necessarily this one expansion, but the apparent decision, done without public input, to radically expand the presence of Navy training in Puget Sound, as opposed to elsewhere. This decision has apparently been made, and what we see is the pieces being rolled out as quietly as possible.The West End training that is the current hot issue (there are more than one happening simultaneously) is a good place to start challenging this entire program.

It is important to note that neither I nor anyone I know is against having the Navy train our pilots as they see fit. The issue is where. The Navy put these facilities into North Puget Sound during an era (the 1940s and 50s) when the population was much smaller, and the scale of the training was much smaller. Now we have screaming jets flying over us at all hours of day and night, with the Navy seeking the authority to do so almost continuously. This training, if approved, will have it happening at low altitudes in areas near the Hoh River where tens of thousands of people hike and camp every year.The noise will be encroaching on a National Park, which is supposed to be a haven for wilderness, which in my definition, does not include low flying fighter jet noise.

The increase in low flying helicopter sorties over Port Townsend, for example has increased dramatically since 2000. Last year the Navy very quietly expanded the ability to do so over the Bay with not one of our politicians even being aware of the program. (I know because I brought it to their attention at the time).  And the noise from the jet training at Whidbey has been heard from the San Juans to Port Townsend (a distance of 16 nautical miles, or from Seattle to Sea-Tac) as late as midnight during peak training periods.

The Armed Forces work for us. Taxpayers fund their expansion. We have the right to call them on their plans, regardless if we *win* or not on the issue. Or is that battle over? Are we now just a country that exists for the military and their needs? It often seems so.

If you care about this issue, you might want to read Dahr’s excellent article. And then decide whether you want to comment. But my suggestion is to contact our Senators and Representatives. They hold the power to slow this and get the right thing done. Our comments are just wallpaper for the Navy’s process.


2013 NW Straits: Alexis Valauir -Ocean Acidification Effects on Global Communities

From the 2013 NW Straits Annual Conference, a most interesting talk:

Alexis Valauri-Orton recently completed a year-long Watson Fellowship investigating human narratives of ocean acidification in Norway, Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Peru. Over the year, she traded her lab coat for a pair of gum boots, experiencing firsthand the role marine resources play in coastal communities. Investigating narratives of acidification in such diverse communities, she discovered the importance of understanding and navigating the social structures that shape our vulnerabilities and responses to environmental issues. She holds a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Davidson College, in North Carolina, and now lives in her hometown of Seattle. She believes increasing scientific literacy and public awareness on issues like ocean acidification is the key to creating a sustainable future.

The Powerpoints of her talk are found at the NW Straits web site:


or directly here (This downloads the presentation to your computer)

Valauri Orton OA

You can download this for use on a device like an ipod or iphone, or just listen to it right here on your computer.



Report from the Climate Change Front – State Senator Kevin Ranker at the NW Straits Conference

Washington State is in the forefront of the impacts of climate change around the world. In addition to actually feeling the effects, in alarming problems emerging in our waters that are impacting shellfish, we have a state legislature and governor that have demanded and funded serious scientific study along with  a feedback loop to the lawmakers from the Governor’s directives, as well as State law.

It is difficult to collate all the scientific efforts of this funding into a neat package, but once or twice a year, we get a window into that work. The Northwest Straits Initiative, which for over 15 years has brought together scientists, business interests, tribes  and volunteer citizens, holds their annual conference.  These people belong to the Marine Resource Committees  (MRCs) of seven counties, from Snohomish to the Canadian border, and west through the Strait of Juan de Fuca (along with non-NW Straits Initiative managed counties along the Coast). The MRC  representatives  come together to share the stories of their work, and hear a unified program of science efforts that support or influence that work.

This year, the conference attendees, were treated to an update on many of the various climate change issues that they face. As part of our coverage of this important conference, and because the NW Straits does not have the financial capabilities to hold a large public forum, we  at the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News present a series of presentations to you over the next few weeks, to allow the general public to hear what was told to the attendees. Given that the attendees are mainly volunteers (there are a few part time staff members in each jurisdiction to help in project management and grant writing), and come forward from the local communities, for those who are interested in volunteering, or cannot afford the time and money to attend the conference, we will post audio of all the presentations we were able to cover, which was all but two, and in addition, as time allows, we will also post the powerpoint presentations of those speakers who used it.

Washington State Senator Kevin leads off the presentations. Hailing from  San Juan County,  Senator Ranker has been instrumental in providing support with funding and legislation to scientific research and policy guidance on ocean acidification (OA). OA research is a critical to fund, as the effects of the increased acidification, in even small degrees, appears to have serious outcomes on shellfish, which provides over $270 million dollars a year (2010 number), and over 3200 direct jobs, most of them in rural and lower income communities around the Sea.  These jobs also support the wider communities they live in with indirect jobs, in supporting industries.

Senator Ranker’s presentation can be found at the following link. You can listen to it right here, or download it for later listening on any MP3 player, or your tablet or PC. The presentation is 38 minutes long, and Senator Ranker’s slides will likely be available later. It is our opinion that not immediately having his slides will not detract from his message. The Senator is a very humorous and off the cuff speaker.

If you wish to attend any of the monthly MRC meetings in your area, check their local web sites. All meetings are open to the public and are advertised in advance. You can also support the work of the NW Straits Initiative, by donating to the NW Straits Foundation. Their web site is http://www.nwstraits.org and http://www.nwstraits.org/Foundation/About.aspx.

What Climate Change Means For Northwest’s Rivers, Coasts and Forests – Earthfix

The science continues to come in on this. A good luck at the economic factors that will be affected.

Northwest residents from Idaho farmers to Puget Sound tribes will be impacted by climate change, according to a new report written by scientists at Oregon State University and the University of Washington. The report was issued Monday. It’s based on models that predict average temperatures in the Northwest will rise over the next fifty years. Amelia Templeton reports.



Clean-water advocates release frightening facts about pollution in Puget Sound – KOMO News

Yes,we still have a long way to go to clean up the Sound.

On the eve of Halloween, a local environmental advocacy group hopes to add a little fright to the night by releasing its list of scary facts about pollution and the Puget Sound. According to Environment Washington, the state’s iconic waterway is haunted by stormwater runoff and toxic dumping, and now is the time for federal environmental leaders to step up and protect the Sound from unchecked pollution. Kiersten Throndsen reports.



Biologists search for cause of sea star deaths

Divers were out in Puget Sound waters Saturday to see if they can help solve a mystery. Scientists are trying to figure out what’s causing one species of starfish to die in parts of Puget Sound and the waters off of Canada. Seattle Aquarium biologists Jeff Christiansen and Joel Hollander suited up in scuba gear in their search for answers. “We’re going to look for both healthy and potentially diseased sea stars,” Christiansen explained. “We’ve got some sea stars that look like they’re melting on the bottom.” The same thing is happening in the waters near Canada and nobody’s sure why. The cause could be environmental or perhaps driven by disease. Amy Moreno reports.

ScienceDaily report on Fukushima plume.

The real story, not the fake ones circulating with NOAA tsunamai maps mislabeled as this one.

Climate Change And The Republican Party – KUOW.ORG

Great interview with Bill Ruckelshaus. He and other Republicans who have headed the EPA have come out with a call to their fellow Republicans currently in Congress, to get with the program and accept Climate Change. 
Former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and former co-chair of the Puget Sound Partnership, William Ruckelshaus explains why the Republican Party needs to take action on climate change.

Why is this important to us on the Olympic Peninsula? Because climate change is affecting the oceans, meaning severe changes to fish and shellfish. It could mean huge costs to move facilities up off the waterfront as oceans rise. Larger and more powerful storms are predicted, much like Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast. Also, we get most of our water from the runoff from snowpack in the mountains. That could mean a significant reduction in drinking water in the future.  We are thrilled that Mr. Ruckelshaus and others have taken this stand against their own party’s inaction.

Check with KUOW.ORG to find this interview, as it was live today, will likely be rebroadcast tonight, and likely posted on their web site soon.

Feasibility study addresses Dungeness/3 Crabs-area pollution – PDN

This actually seems to be a reasonable alternative. The recommendation is to enforce current laws, raise the local money to pay for regular inspection, which as I have heard, is not happening currently, and monitor to see whether the problems improve. Rushing to judgement on putting in a huge infrastructure project, even if it’s eventually found to be the right solution, seems premature. Let’s make sure the existing laws work, before abandoning them.

Clallam County should strengthen an existing program to operate and maintain individual on-site septic systems in the Dungeness/3 Crabs area, a new study concludes. Staying the course was one of four alternatives being considered in a feasibility study for wastewater management in an unincorporated area where failing septic systems were said to be polluting Dungeness Bay with fecal coliform and nitrogen. Damon McAlister, a senior engineer with Parametrix, and county Environmental Health Director Andy Brastad presented the final study to the Clallam County commissioners Tuesday. Rob Ollikainen reports.

Feasibility study addresses Dungeness/3 Crabs-area pollution http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20130731/NEWS/307319994/feasibility-study-addresses-dungeness-3-crabs-area-pollution

Support local journalism: Subscribe to the PDN.

‘Crisis time’ for B.C. waters, environmental groups say – Times Colonist

Our friends to the north are taking the expanded tanker and population threats seriously. See if you are doing all you can do.

Two of B.C.’s major environmental organizations are launching a Save-the-Salish-Sea campaign because of looming threats to the delicate ecosystem. The groups are concerned about possible expanded coal and oil exports, which would increase the number of tankers and coal ships travelling from Vancouver, through the Gulf Islands and Juan de Fuca Strait, as well as existing problems, such as pollution and overuse. Georgia Strait Alliance and the Wilderness Committee are asking B.C. residents to demonstrate support for the water that surrounds them by pledging to become “caring kayakers, bright birders and savvy shoreline users.” Judith Lavoie reports.


Bill in Legislature seeks early action for derelict vessels–Kitsap Sun

This is a bill we should see unanimous support for, as it has been a major problem for our counties along the Sound for many decades now.

State officials would be encouraged to deal with derelict boats sooner — preferably before they sink — under a proposed law moving through the Legislature. …The legislation was approved unanimously last week by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and now moves to a vote by the full House. Chris Dunagan reports.


Noisy ships, ferries create racket below Puget Sound

The Seattle Times gives us a good overview of the issue of noise pollution that fills the Sound. Anyone who has dived in the Sound knows that there is a lot of noise, clicking, creaking, etc. And the occassional ship carries a long way underwater. How detrimental is it to undersea life? It’s still an open question.

Instead, the Sound’s waters are a whirring barrage of grinding engine noises, mostly from passing ships and ferries. This background noise in some shipping channels regularly meets or exceeds levels the federal government suggests may be harmful to marine life. But at the moment there is no easy way to significantly introduce a bit more quiet. Craig Welch reports. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020054352_pugetnoise04m.html

Port Townsend Paper Mill Fined for Air Quality

As reported in the Port Townsend Leader.


There is no mention of it in the Department’s news releases.

The mill was 20% over it’s legal limit, according to DOE. That’s significant to those breathing these chemicals in the plume.

FDA Appears ready to approve genetically engineered salmon – Various sources

The FDA released a report on Friday that seems to point to it’s clearing genetically altered salmon to be sold to the public. The report, at the link below, is usually the final chapter, needed prior to approval. The only hurdle left is for the FDA to get public feedback on the proposal.


This is another distressing move by the Obama administration, all of them, slated to come out just after the election. There is widespread negative feedback from the fishing, environmental and food safety communities to stop this approval. The company in question apparently is not doing well financially. But there doesn’t seem to be much that the Obama administration would do to say no to jobs.

If you feel like acting on this, there are many groups gathering signatures, or you can write the FDA directly. .


Taylor Shellfish Denied Mussel Farm Expansion in Thurston County

Thurston County Commissioners have denied Taylor Shellfish’s mussel farm permit because cumulative impacts were not adequately considered. This doesn’t seem to mean that Taylor cannot come back with more data. The refusal had to do with not presenting what the Hearing Examiner, a lawyer by trade, felt was compelling cumulative impacts of the proposed farm.

The legal precedent behind this decision appears to have been from a variety of already resolved lawsuits, including one by the coalition of a group of six citizen organizations that have been fighting the expansion of shellfish farms, mainly in the South Sound.

Again, it’s interesting to note that the Puget Sound Partnership did not weigh in at all on this case, for either side.

Read the short PDF of the ruling here. There is a longer document of the actual findings from the Hearings Examiner available on line if you wish.


BC Coast Guard Union Voices Concerns over Oil Shipments

The battle for protection of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the BC Coast goes on north of the border. The BC union of Coast Guard workers came out yesterday against Canadian Government proposals to slash the vessel monitoring stations along the coast. Additionally, they are looking to ease vessel call in rules as they approach the Strait. As stated in this column in earlier entries, our government and tribes ought to be protesting loudly to the Canadians about this issue. In a few years it will be too late.


Colony Collapse Disorder and the Food We Eat–Science Daily

With so many new organic farmers out there, I thought I’d share this news with the Peninsula.

When half of all bees began mysteriously dying in the US and parts of Europe and Asia six years ago, beekeepers and food growers took note. What’s happened since then? Are honeybees in recovery? And what about those watermelons, apples and cherries we couldn’t live without? Martha Baskin reports. 

The Buzz on an Otherwise Quiet Environmental Crisis: Colony Collapse Disorder and the Food We Eat  http://greenacreradio.blogspot.com/2012/06/june-7-2012-buzz-on-otherwise-quiet.html 

See also: Highly Contagious Honey Bee Virus Transmitted by Mites  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120607142357.htm

Radioactive Tuna Migrated Into Californian Waters From Japan – Medical News Today

The good news here is that the levels are lower than that which is deemed hazardous, the bad news is that it wasn’t detected by people being paid to monitor such things, but by some researchers looking at migratory issues.

It is critical that the government get their monitoring in place and in front of these kinds of issues, before the public panics and destroys the fishing industry , which is likely to happen from this anyway. Many people do not trust government monitoring to be accurate and timely.

Pacific bluefin tuna which have migrated from Japan to California have been found to be contaminated with radioactive cesium from the Fukushima nuclear accident, researchers from Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific have reported in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Despite radiation contamination, levels so far detected are well below those considered hazardous for human health, the authors emphasized.


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