West Seattle Blog... » Environment http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 29 Nov 2014 05:23:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 West Seattle scene: From Burnaby Mountain to Harbor Island http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-scene-from-burnaby-mountain-to-harbor-island/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-scene-from-burnaby-mountain-to-harbor-island/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:46:19 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=293016

Dozens of people gathered outside a Harbor Island office this afternoon to demonstrate in support of hundreds who are protesting almost 200 miles away, on Burnaby Mountain, east of Vancouver, B.C. The Harbor Island office belongs to Kinder Morgan, which wants to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby to carry tar-sands oil.

The expansion would bring hundreds more oil tankers into Northwest waters to receive that oil. While today’s Harbor Island rally was uneventful – though Port of Seattle police were visible nearby – the protest in Canada has resulted in dozens of arrests since Kinder Morgan obtained an injunction to prevent opponents from interfering with their preparatory work, which currently involves drilling. The pipeline-expansion decision is in the hands of Canada’s National Energy Board, which has an infopage about it here.)

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-scene-from-burnaby-mountain-to-harbor-island/feed/ 7
Big dig done: Excavation ends at million-gallon-tank Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site by Lowman Beach http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/big-dig-done-excavation-ends-at-million-gallon-tank-murray-combined-sewer-overflow-control-project-site-by-lowman-beach/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/big-dig-done-excavation-ends-at-million-gallon-tank-murray-combined-sewer-overflow-control-project-site-by-lowman-beach/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 01:20:10 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292599

Not long after we took that photo last week, excavation concluded at the site of the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Project‘s future million-gallon tank. After a reader mentioned seeing a big excavator on a truck heading eastbound, we checked the project’s status today with Doug Marsano from King County Wastewater Treatment. He confirmed the conclusion of the 60-foot-deep excavation, which started two months ago, and said the next big job will be a three-day concrete pour for the 17-foot base on which the tank will rest – no dates set yet, but they hope to get it done before Thanksgiving. It’ll mean:

About 20 trucks an hour will deliver concrete to the site to pour the base. Two concrete pump trucks will be located on the east side of Beach Drive SW to pump the concrete into the hole. Trucks will enter the site from Lincoln Park Way SW and exit using 48th Ave SW. Trucks waiting to pour will park on Fauntleroy Way SW and Lincoln Park Way SW. Flaggers will direct traffic around the site. To maintain local vehicle access, no parking will be available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 7000 block of Beach Dr. S.W. and on Lincoln Park Way from Murray Ave. to Beach Dr. on pour days.

That’s from the official construction update, which you can see here. In case you missed it in our early excavation coverage, here’s how much dirt was removed and where it went.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/big-dig-done-excavation-ends-at-million-gallon-tank-murray-combined-sewer-overflow-control-project-site-by-lowman-beach/feed/ 6
West Seattle weather: Stage 2 burn ban for King County http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-weather-stage-2-burn-ban-for-king-county/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-weather-stage-2-burn-ban-for-king-county/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:18:15 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292578 As of noon, a Stage 2 burn ban is in effect in King County, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency expects to keep it in effect until 6 am tomorrow. It cites “continued weather conditions and air-pollution levels. Here’s what this level of burn ban means:

During a Stage 2 burn ban:

* No burning is allowed in any wood-burning fireplaces, certified or uncertified wood stoves or fireplace inserts. Residents should rely instead on their home’s other, cleaner source of heat (such as their furnace or electric baseboard heaters) for a few days until air quality improves, the public health risk diminishes and the ban is cancelled.

* The only exception is if the homeowner has a previously approved ‘No Other Adequate Source of Heat’ designation from the Clean Air Agency

* No outdoor fires are allowed. This includes recreational fires such as bonfires, campfires and the use of fire pits and chimineas.

* Burn ban violations are subject to a $1,000 penalty.

It is OK to use natural gas and propane stoves or inserts during a Stage 2 burn ban.

Rain is expected to return early tomorrow.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-weather-stage-2-burn-ban-for-king-county/feed/ 3
1 1/2 months until mandatory food-waste composting: City asks about your ‘most compostable’ holiday dish http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/1-12-months-until-mandatory-food-waste-composting-city-asks-about-your-most-compostable-holiday-dish/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/1-12-months-until-mandatory-food-waste-composting-city-asks-about-your-most-compostable-holiday-dish/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 02:02:09 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=292394 On New Year’s Day, the new city rules about food-waste composting kick in. To keep that top-of-mind, Seattle Public Utilities just launched a mini-survey with an incentive – asking what food you’re most likely to compost this holiday season. 14 options (or write in your own) on one page, with a chance to win a kitchen compost bin if you choose to include your e-mail address. Friday’s the deadline.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/1-12-months-until-mandatory-food-waste-composting-city-asks-about-your-most-compostable-holiday-dish/feed/ 21
Green Seattle Day tomorrow – with a local ravine looking for you http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/green-seattle-day-tomorrow-with-a-local-ravine-looking-for-you/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/green-seattle-day-tomorrow-with-a-local-ravine-looking-for-you/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 23:45:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=291412

(Photo courtesy Cindi Barker: Some of the plants that await you!)
Four West Seattle sites are part of the citywide Green Seattle Day workparty-a-thon tomorrow – but just one comes with the added notation “Needs some love” on the signup list: Orchard Street Ravine in the Gatewood/Morgan area. Organizers say it’s “a big effort (that) can use lots of willing hands”:

We are finishing some clearing and have 150 plants that need to get into the ground. After planting we will be laying burlap and bark down in preparation for the winter. So there are tasks of all kinds, please come for some or all of the time, tools will be provided, just bring your own gloves.

They’ll be working 9 am-1 pm, but even if you can only be there for part of that time, that would still be a BIG help. Directions are on this page, which is where you also can RSVP right now, to let organizers know help is on the way!

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/green-seattle-day-tomorrow-with-a-local-ravine-looking-for-you/feed/ 0
The Whale Trail’s Orca Talks: Southern Resident Killer Whales’ status next time; protection-zone proposal last time http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/the-whale-trails-orca-talks-southern-resident-killer-whales-status-next-time-protection-zone-proposal-last-time/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/the-whale-trails-orca-talks-southern-resident-killer-whales-status-next-time-protection-zone-proposal-last-time/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 06:16:19 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290503

(2012 photo by Rick Rasmussen)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Ten years after they were formally listed as endangered, what do we really know about Puget Sound’s endangered orcas, formally known as the Southern Resident Killer Whales?

Next Tuesday (November 11th), you’ll hear answers from Northwest Fisheries Science Center researcher Dawn Noren, during The Whale Trail‘s next Orca Talk in West Seattle.

One of the focal points of her research is how boat traffic affects the whales. And that was at the heart of The Whale Trail’s first Orca Talk of the season, last Thursday at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor).

During that event, Bruce Stedman of Orca Relief talked about his organization’s proposal of a zone in the San Juans where boats would have to keep a greater distance from whales than they do now. He said it’s not the only action that’s needed to help them – but it’s the one that could make a difference the quickest. Pointedly, he noted that the recovery plan originally envisioned up to 115 Southern Resident Killer Whales by 2015, but that is at this point beyond impossible … that’s three dozen more than the current population, which has had only one birth in the past two years, the calf that is now missing and presumed dead.

He says the protection zone (see it here) is “an idea that really has its roots in the regulatory process of 2009-2011″ in that “vessel noise and disturbance was one of the three major factors disturbing the whales,” which led to the rules about how far away boats had to stay from whales. “They also suggested a protected area of some kind,” which led to “so many negative reactions that they withdrew the (idea) before the regulations were finalized.”

The idea was supposed to be taken up “expeditiously” – but three years have gone by, and now the population is down to 78 whales, and time is running out.

Stedman was the first curator of The Whale Museum, and then had been away from the region for a long time. “When I moved back to Seattle,” he said, he was asked, to try to “take the next step on figuring out how to (help) the Southern Resident Killer Whales.” He and his group are aware that many don’t think there needs to be a protected area; he does, and hopes to win people over to his belief that minimizing noise and disturbance is “absolutely necessary for recovery.”

What would constitute recovery? In 2005, when listed as endangered, a recovered population would have 115 whales by 2015, 155 by 2028. “Clearly, we’re not even going in that direction.” Federally designated critical habitat “is there, but is not very effective.” The value of a restricted one is this, he said: “What we really need is to enable the whales to have a sufficiently free area for communicating, for resting, and in particular, for hunting.”

Right now, according to Stedman, the SRKWs “are no better off than they were three decades ago.” And, “the breeding-age females (16) are the heart of the matter.” The males are assumed to be able to breed the whole length of their life. Juvenile females are in dire straits, while juvenile males are in a slightly more promising pattern.

And as for the next generation: “It IS tragic that the baby who was born died but what’s more tragic is that there had only been one birth in the past two years.” There should have been three births in that time, with one or two survivors, he said.

Before the Puget Sound captures last century, the population might have peaked at 200 to 300 around 1900 – might possibly have numbered as many as 1,000 around 1700 – and there might have been 130 or so in pre-capture times, he said.

Low chinook returns, plus whale-watching boats, plus private boats, plus large ships, equal starvation, Stedman said. “They start to absorb their own blubber, because they are hungry,” and that means they absorb the toxins stored in their blubber. And all that leads to declining reproduction, he said. “And when you have a very weak population – which this is – they’re just sitting ducks for an oil spill or a disease outbreak.”

The remedies include steps that might not reap benefits for decades – “a lot more salmon, which everyone agrees with; and reducing the toxic load.” And then, to Orca Relief’s proposal: Reducing noise and disturbance with a whale protection zone can be done relatively quickly and with a lot of benefit, he said.

The location where they propose a protection zone is six to 12 square miles, “less than half a percent of the entire critical habitat,” he said. “We want to focus the design on hot spots for feeding, important places for resting (and) communicating.”

He went into details about how the boats can affect the whales. And as far as whale-watching is concerned, he brought The Whale Trail’s land-based viewing enhancement into it – including proposed viewing sites along Vancouver Island. In the San Juans, he said, “there’s lots of precedent for this kind of thing.”

They want the feds to start a review process as soon as possible. They’re also concerned about a proposal to increase shipping traffic. But the proposal they’re making is mostly about smaller, whale-watching boats. And they want the Fisheries Service to start studying it. Also to be looked at: Conflicts with commercial salmon fishing. “We’re not saying there shouldn’t be any fishing in the protection zone, but (something has to be worked out) so that while the whales are there, the engines are affecting them.”

Other “regulatory things that need to be looked at” that he mentioned: Air pollution (from lots and lots of small boats), and, “We think there ought to be a permit system for whale-watching.”

Questions included how the zone would be “labeled” so that it could be enforced as necessary – it would be on navigational charts, for example, he said, and contended that it would not be detrimental to whale-watching industry, which he estimated includes 75 boats and 20 companies “from Anacortes to Victoria and Vancouver.”

It could be an overall tourism-industry concern, though, someone pointed out.

The reply: “At what point would you accept (rules) more rigorous because the decline is so serious? 70? 65? 60?” He also points out that a time might come when there are no whales in Puget Sound, not just because they are dead but because they are spending all their time on the outer coast. “Our intention is that sometime in the next year a public process would be established by the service, and then everyone will have the chance to comment.” For now, he said, he had a meeting coming up with an official involved in marine-mammal research policy; also, his group has an online petition. “(The orcas) might be able to eke through if they weren’t bothered all the time .. let’s get a zone in place and find out. It certainly can’t hurt.”

Sandstrom clarified that The Whale Trail has not endorsed the idea but “we are profoundly opposed to the idea of the whales going extinct … we cannot sit and watch this (decline) happen. … The whale-watching industry is a welcome participant in this conversation … I envision everybody at the table, and we come up with something that works for everybody and especially the whales … they’re going to disappear in 100 years if this population (trend) continues. … Everybody wants somebody else to do something; the thing I learned from Springer is, what can *I* do?”

‘Diver Laura’ James chimed in, “We are all stakeholders.”

Before Stedman’s presentation that night, here’s what attendees heard about:

THE WHALE TRAIL UPDATE: Sandstrom recapped her speaking tour since the last Orca Talk in April – beyond the Northwest. “Great crowds gathered to hear about the whales and learn what they can do … people are becoming aware of them and concerned about them,” and understanding that the future of the salmon, as far south as Monterey, California, is intertwined with the future of these orcas. The Whale Trail itself extends that far south now with “new sites and signs”; Point No Point in Kitsap County is the next site to be added, She said. “If you know a site that should be on The Whale Trail, let us know.”

Orca experts on hand, as Sandstrom pointed out, included West Seattleite Mark Sears, and reps from the Vashon Hydrophone Project and WildOrca.org, a pilot-founded organization that is working to get a Kenmore Air plane “painted like an orca,” Sandstrom noted.

SEAL SITTERS UPDATE: Lynn Shimamoto from Seal Sitters updated the group with sad news; the number of dead pups is way up, number of responses overall is way down. She talked about the first pup of the season, Luigi, who was newborn – a lanugo (premature) pup – but whose mom was never seen. He had to be taken to PAWS but they couldn’t save him. “So the start of our season was kind of distressing.” You can read other pupdates at Seal Sitters’ Blubberblog.

DIVER LAURA/TOX-ICK.ORG UPDATE: “A whole lot of people are working really, really, really hard to reduce the flow of toxic runoff into Puget Sound.” But, we “all need to kind of buck up and do our part,” she said. She explained how she got involved with the “Don’t Feed the Toxic Monster” program – she’d been shooting underwater video of runoff, and now she could help people learn how to cut down on what makes that runoff toxic. (See the “7 simple solutions” here.)

AGAIN, THE NEXT WHALE TRAIL TALK … is next Tuesday with Dawn Noren, 7-8:30 pm November 11th, doors open at 6:15 pm, talk begins at 7, at C & P Coffee (5612 California SW). $5 suggested donation for tickets, kids free – buy online ASAP to guarantee a seat. Read more about the planned talk and the speaker on The Whale Trail’s site.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/the-whale-trails-orca-talks-southern-resident-killer-whales-status-next-time-protection-zone-proposal-last-time/feed/ 5
West Seattle salmon update: Longfellow sightings; Fauntleroy visits http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-salmon-update-longfellow-sightings-fauntleroy-visits/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-salmon-update-longfellow-sightings-fauntleroy-visits/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 19:52:06 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290917 Coho season continues on 2 local creeks:

Thanks to Josh for sharing that quick clip of one of more than 20 salmon he spotted during a visit to Longfellow Creek: “There are a ton of fish near the bonefish bridge, and we recommend people check it out!” (It’s a short distance down the trail from the Dragonfly Pavilion area just south of 26th/Yancy.)

Meantime, from Fauntleroy Creek, Judy Pickens and Dennis Hinton report more than 90 human visitors during their three-hour “open creek” sessions Saturday and Sunday afternoons. No new coho sightings over the weekend, though, so the total remains at 19. But as Judy puts it, visits are worthwhile, fish or no fish, enabling visitors “to experience spawning season very close to home and to learn a lot about salmon and habitat protection.” (Find out ways you can make a difference, here.) Volunteers will continue their watch in Fauntleroy for at least another week.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/west-seattle-salmon-update-longfellow-sightings-fauntleroy-visits/feed/ 2
West Seattle windstorm aftermath: Lowman Beach cleared to reopen after sewage overflow during power outage http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-windstorm-aftermath-lowman-beach-cleared-to-reopen-after-sewage-overflow-during-power-outage/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-windstorm-aftermath-lowman-beach-cleared-to-reopen-after-sewage-overflow-during-power-outage/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 20:53:02 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290328

(WSB photo: Excavation site at midday today)
As the excavation continues at the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project site across from Lowman Beach Park, another reminder of what the future million-gallon tank is for – King County announced that Saturday night’s windstorm led to a power outage and another overflow from Murray Pump Station, into Puget Sound. We’re still waiting to hear the amount of sewage that (updated) 200,000 gallons of sewage overflowed; county Wastewater Treatment spokesperson Annie Kolb-Nelson says bacteria levels “were never elevated,” but the beach was closed “as a precaution” and has since reopened. The county brought in a mobile generator to get the pump station back online and stop Saturday night’s overflow; once the entire Murray project is complete, that shouldn’t be necessary either, since the pump station itself is getting a “permanent back-up electrical system” in addition to the huge tank to hold overflows. Right now, the overflow tank site is more than two-thirds of the way into the 60-foot-deep excavation that’s planned for the $26 million project, which is designed to bring the county into compliance with orders to limit overflows to no more than one per year; currently, this pump station averages five.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-windstorm-aftermath-lowman-beach-cleared-to-reopen-after-sewage-overflow-during-power-outage/feed/ 5
West Seattle salmon: Updates from Fauntleroy, Longfellow Creeks http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-salmon-updates-from-fauntleroy-longfellow-creeks/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-salmon-updates-from-fauntleroy-longfellow-creeks/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 02:58:40 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290135

The salmon homecoming continues! Above, another coho from Fauntleroy Creek; on Monday afternoon, Dennis Hinton reported, he and Judy Pickens “saw four new coho come through the culvert and shoot up the creek. Three were females, 4-5-pounds. One was a red-sided male, about 7 or 8 pounds. The big male did something I’ve never seen before in all my years of watching at Fauntleroy Creek. It leaped entirely out of the water over weir #6, into the next pool. Spectacular sight. Just like you’ve seen in the movies.” The photo above shows that red-sided male, one of nine counted in the creek as of last night (if we get an update for today, we’ll add it). Find out more about Fauntleroy Creek here. (**ADDED 8:58 PM** As Dennis notes in comments, 4 more today – 13 total in 3 days.)

(back to original report) And we’ve heard a couple reports of salmon back in Longfellow Creek, too – John sent a photo:

He “counted at least five around and under the salmon bone bridge” during a visit on Monday morning. You can find out more about Longfellow Creek (and its Legacy Trail) on this city webpage.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-salmon-updates-from-fauntleroy-longfellow-creeks/feed/ 5
More coho at Fauntleroy Creek as neighbors drum to welcome them http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/more-coho-at-fauntleroy-creek-as-neighbors-drum-to-welcome-them/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/more-coho-at-fauntleroy-creek-as-neighbors-drum-to-welcome-them/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 04:27:32 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=290030

(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
As neighbors drummed and sang tonight in the annual gathering to welcome Fauntleroy Creek‘s coho spawners, steward Judy Pickens (above) had an update: Five seen so far. Definitely within earshot of tonight’s welcoming party!

Last year, the coho were a no-show, but the year before, it was a record run. Some of tonight’s participants at the Fauntleroy Creek overlook across from the ferry dock made decorations in honor of the salmon’s return.

Jamie Shilling led the songs and chants once again:

This time of year is one of two key peak periods of attention for Fauntleroy Creek; the other is springtime, when hundreds of schoolchildren visit to release classroom-raised salmon fry. Meantime, with Judy’s help, we’ll continue updating this year’s coho watch; you are welcome to watch down by the creek (off SW Director just east of the overlook) when volunteer watchers are on duty in the days ahead.

P.S. Clean water is vital to the salmon’s health. Reducing runoff – which ends up in creeks and Puget Sound – is a big step you can take. It’s not too difficult; try these seven simple steps featured at tox-ick.org.

P.P.S. See this year’s first two arriving spawners here.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/more-coho-at-fauntleroy-creek-as-neighbors-drum-to-welcome-them/feed/ 3
West Seattle weekend scene: Duwamish Alive!, Pigeon Point edition http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-weekend-scene-duwamish-alive-pigeon-point-edition/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-weekend-scene-duwamish-alive-pigeon-point-edition/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 01:33:08 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=289138

From West Seattle to Tukwila, hundreds of volunteers teamed up today for another productive Duwamish Alive! multi-site work party. In the West Duwamish Greenbelt at Pigeon Point Park, Nature Consortium and EarthCorps led the way – volunteers we saw there included NC founder Nancy Whitlock:

The 100-plus people at work at this site alone also included Green River Community College students. And we even met Harriet the helpful Corgi:

Eleven sites were on the list for Duwamish Alive! today. Watch duwamishalive.org for word of next spring’s edition. And watch WSB for other opportunities to help with cleanups and planting parties around the community just about EVERY weekend (for example – North Delridge could use your help one week from today!).

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-weekend-scene-duwamish-alive-pigeon-point-edition/feed/ 1
Murray CSO million-gallon tank project: Late-night work tomorrow http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/murray-cso-million-gallon-tank-project-late-night-work-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/murray-cso-million-gallon-tank-project-late-night-work-tomorrow/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 03:23:43 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288321

(Murray CSO storage-tank-site excavation, photographed Monday by Richard)
An alert for Lowman Beach-area residents: The contractor for King County’s Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project plans four hours of late-night work tomorrow night. The county sent the notification this afternoon; the work involves pipe inspections that have to be done under certain tidal and pipe-use conditions, and those conditions happen 11 pm Friday night until about 3 am Saturday. Workers will be inspecting pipes beneath two manholes, one on the south side of Lowman Beach Park, one alongside the CSO project site on Lincoln Park Way. A map is part of the notification document you can see here (PDF). The county says neighbors are being notified, and reminds anyone with questions/concerns that they can call the 24-hour project hotline at 206-205-9186.

Also, a reminder: This Saturday is also scheduled to be the first of several Saturdays with extra excavation work, as previously announced.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/murray-cso-million-gallon-tank-project-late-night-work-tomorrow/feed/ 3
You can help: Choose where you’ll be part of Duwamish Alive! http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/you-can-help-choose-where-youll-be-part-of-duwamish-alive/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/you-can-help-choose-where-youll-be-part-of-duwamish-alive/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 23:18:58 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288164

View Duwamish Alive! 2014 in a larger map

From West Seattle, south along the Duwamish River, and even to a few spots southeast of where our map ends, October 18th is the fall edition of Duwamish Alive! – 11 work parties to help the river, its watershed, and everyone/everything living in/along them. You only need to commit four hours that day – registration is at 9:30, then you’ll be helping out 10 am-2 pm. Here’s where to go to choose your site and sign up.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/you-can-help-choose-where-youll-be-part-of-duwamish-alive/feed/ 0
Followup: What West Seattle’s Lafarge plant is doing, after federal settlement of water-pollution investigation http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/followup-what-west-seattles-lafarge-plant-is-doing-after-federal-settlement-of-water-pollution-investigation/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/followup-what-west-seattles-lafarge-plant-is-doing-after-federal-settlement-of-water-pollution-investigation/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:13:08 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=287239 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A long-running water-pollution investigation involving the Lafarge plant in West Seattle has ended with a settlement and fine. As first reported Sunday by seattlepi.com, the company was fined $300,000, confirmed operations manager Jonathan Hall in an interview with WSB.

The investigation dates back to 2006. Hall (WSB photo at right) says the settlement has been “under discussion for close to 2 years” and was finalized by the U.S. Department of Justice a week ago. “The conversation encompassed a wide range of topics, and we have made some infrastructure changes here as part of that settlement, and of course also worked on some of the practices that we had … to make sure we were super tight as a result.”

The plant has gone through a major change since then, shutting down its kiln in 2010, but Hall said that since the “primary alleged violations were related to stormwater and stormwater-management practices, and of course it still rains here,” the settlement was relevant to its current operations. “We endeavor to keep a tight facility; we actually have close to 2 million gallons of stormwater storage here (and) have created a tight perimeter literally around the very edge of the plant, all the way around,” with curbing. “Part of that was what we agreed to, to the final 100 percent. We’re pretty proud of that … we think we strive to be something that the regulators are proud of, and believe we’re pretty damn close to that.”

100 percent of “the stormwater that falls on the site” is collected, Hall said, and retained to be treated before being discharged into the river. “Twice a day, crews are out inspecting all our transfer stations for the water. We are closely monitoring tank levels and the water treatment system, and (spend) a whole lot of time making sure the area the water does fall on is swept as quickly as it can be after it’s been used. … Water is a huge focus point for us.”

Hall says there are no other pollution-related actions pending regarding the plant – “this closes out all the action we’re aware of.”

One of Lafarge’s current lines of work is related to the ongoing cleanup work on the river; dredged sediments move through the plant on the way to a landfill. “We are an access point for bringing it out.” That work, said Hall, has for more than two years been reusing part of the plant that otherwise has been inactive since the kiln shutdown.

That’s part of “how we re-created the facility,” a topic we also discussed in our conversation at the plant. It has a permanent staff of about 30, with about 30 other workers of varius statuses on site, on any given day. They are the “#1 distributor of low-carbon-dioxide cements,” and of products using recycled materials, such as “cementitious cements.” Hall mentions nine different products, four of them “close to 100 percent recycled,” the others with varying amounts of recycled content.

One of the major materials they use, he says, is “granulated blast furnace slag,” which is used for a product not manufactured anywhere else on the West Coast. Yes, we asked, but no, it doesn’t come from Nucor, which uses a different type of process than the one creating what is used at Lafarge, slag that comes from Japan.

Their products are being well-utilized in projects around town, including the Seawall Replacement Project, says Hall, who is in his fourth year running the plant at 5400 W. Marginal Way SW.

One more question – has the forthcoming merger led to any changes yet? Nothing major, he says, but there’s a bit of irony – Lafarge bought this plant from Holcim, the firm it’s merging with, back in 1997.

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/followup-what-west-seattles-lafarge-plant-is-doing-after-federal-settlement-of-water-pollution-investigation/feed/ 2
Ready to ride? Denny teachers to lead bilingual community bike tour on Longfellow Creek Trail this Saturday http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/ready-to-ride-denny-teachers-to-lead-bilingual-community-bike-tour-on-longfellow-creek-trail-this-saturday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/ready-to-ride-denny-teachers-to-lead-bilingual-community-bike-tour-on-longfellow-creek-trail-this-saturday/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 22:33:26 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286891

Another quick look ahead to Saturday – this time to make sure you know about a community bicycle ride along the Longfellow Creek Trail, to be guided in Spanish and English by Denny International Middle School teachers Andrew Chase and Ben Evans. Its goal is “to connect students and their families to local ecology” – but everyone, whether connected to a local school or not, is welcome to be part of it. Above, the invitation in English; for the Spanish version, click here. Meet at 9 am Saturday (September 27th) at the baseball fields by Roxhill Elementary (30th/Roxbury).

http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/ready-to-ride-denny-teachers-to-lead-bilingual-community-bike-tour-on-longfellow-creek-trail-this-saturday/feed/ 3