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A Washington man and his company have been hit with a $405,000 fine for the 2011 oil spill in the Columbia River from the derelict vessel Davy Crockett.
Three oil trains roll through the city each week en route to a shipping terminal down the Columbia River near Clatskanie, Oregon. If one of them were to derail, Portland firefighters say they’re not equipped for a major spill, fire, or explosion along the lines of last year’s Lac-Megantic explosion in Quebec, Canada. Writing, Photography, and Editing by Alexi Horowitz
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Every year, billions of gallons of oil are transported in Northwest waters, but the agencies regulating that trade have suffered budget cuts. In fact, oil tanker traffic is on the increase. There are five times as many tankers traveling through Washington's Strait of Juan de Fuca on their way to Canadian ports as there were 10 years ago. Yet, the state recently cut nine percent of its oil spill regulation staff. EarthFix reporter Ashley Ahearn joins us to explain how Northwest oil spill programs are dealing with budget cuts, how prepared the area would be for a big oil spill, and the future of oil in the Northwest.
Oceanographers continue to study the long term effects last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
EarthFix editor David Steves and reporter Ashley Ahearn discuss some recent environmental headlines OPB has been following, including:
The worst oil spill in history continues in the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama gave his first national address from the Oval Office Tuesday night to address what's next in the clean up effort. He's also said his administration is working to make sure those damaged by the oil spill will receive compensation. New estimates indicate even more oil is escaping the underwater well than previously thought — up to 60,000 barrels a day. As the disaster unfolds, people and companies from the Northwest are traveling to the region to help deal with the ongoing cleanup. Charlie Hebert, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's only full-time spill response expert, is one of them. He recently returned from the Gulf and says this spill is unlike any he's ever dealt with, given both its size and continuous nature. Overall, though, he says the clean up is going about as well as could be expected.
Writers aren't the only people worried about the decline in newspaper readership. Editorial cartoonists are also learning to adapt to the multimedia environment. Oregon will be flush with cartoonists this week as the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists holds its annual convention in Portland. Among other things, cartoonists will be discussing web distribution and pushing political boundaries in their work. The oil spill in the Gulf has provided major material for cartoonists lately. Here are links to recent oil spill cartoons by each of our guests, Jack Ohman, Matt Bors, and Steve Kelley. We'll talk about their different takes on the show. And we'll talk about whether cartooning is a dangerous occupation. Beyond the daily editorial world, South Park creators recently raised the ire of Muslims for their portrayal of religious figures in the popular animated show. And Christians have organized boycotts of Comedy Central because of the way a new animated series will depict Jesus. (Buddhists, it seems, were not as outraged by an animated version of their religion's founder snorting coke in a recent South Park episode.)
Three weeks after the massive oil spill started in the Gulf, BP CEO Tony Hayward said the amount of oil and chemicals in the sea were tiny compared to the enormous ocean. But for many people, this disaster has highlighted how many different interconnected species are affected by the spill, and the limitations of finite ocean resources. Of course, the world's oceans have faced growing demands even before this spill. In the Northwest, people use the ocean for fish, for access to energy sources, for scientific research and for recreation. How do these different interests compete? How do they collaborate?
The nature and wildlife photographer Gerry Ellis has been traveling the world for three decades. He has documented the plight of orphaned baby African elephants in East Africa. He spent four years in Australia and Papua-New Guinea. Recently he focused on the environmental devastation following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But he's now at the beginning of what he calls the biggest assignment of his lifetime. The Great Ape Diaries is a multi-year, multi-media, multi-continent project based on a simple question: will there be any great apes left in the wild by the end of this decade? Ellis argues that this is not an idle question. He says between deforestation, climate change, wars, poaching, and disease, great apes like chimps, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans may disappear from the wild within eight years.
Thousands of seabirds are washing ashore off the coast of Oregon and Washington, stripped of their natural protection from water and cold air. The birds are feeling the effects of a large bloom of red algae, known as Akashiwo sanguinea. A similar phenomenon occurred off the California coast in 2007 and some of the birds are being sent to California to be treated.