• OPB Announces Results of Its EarthFix Poll: NW Residents Rank Stormwater as Greatest Source of Water Pollution

    OPB EarthfixOPB has published the results of their environmental news segment, EarthFix, water pollution survey.

    Results show respondents ranked stormwater runoff as the greatest source of water pollution.

    From OPB:

    A new poll by Earthfix suggests growing awareness in the Northwest of some of the problems associated with nonpoint source pollution- the diffuse chemicals, bacteria, and sediment carried by rainfall and snowmelt moving downstream through a watershed.

    Urban stormwater runoff beat out a number of other water pollution sources as a top concern in a poll commissioned by EarthFix and conducted by Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall (DHM Research).

    The poll listed a number of sources of water pollution: industrial waste, agricultural chemicals, and sewage, among others.

    When asked what the most significant source of water pollution was in their state, 25 percent of people in the Northwest chose the polluted runoff from roads and paved surfaces.

    To read the full story go to: EarthFix Poll: Do NW Residents Care About Stormwater?

    Survey results can be viewed or downloaded here: EarthFix CWA Survey 2012 PDF

  • Power Past Coal Campaign – RNA letter to Vancouver City Council

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    On June 19, 2012, Rosemere Neighborhood Association submitted a letter to Vancouver Mayor, City Council and City Managers asking the City of Vancouver to join in the efforts by Governor Kitzhaber and Senator Patty Murray to call for a regional Environmental Impact Statement regarding the doubling of international coal exports through the Pacific Northwest. Seven mega coal terminals are proposed to ship 157 million tons of coal annually to China. The coal trains will flow daily through Vancouver, spewing toxic residue with each train.

    Excerpted from the letter, which was presented at Vancouver City Council meeting, Monday, June 25, 2012:

    Facing the slowing of U.S. coal fired power plants, coal companies like Massey and Arch Coal are looking to harvest and ship an additional 157 million tons of coal per year, sending 30 – 60 trains per day through the Columbia River Gorge via Portland and Vancouver, where it is intended to be shipped to Asia. Each and every car from a coal train can unleash 500 pounds of coal dust. The coal trains proposed to run through Portland and Vancouver will be 75 miles long, each day making the Pacific Northwest the largest coal chute in the nation, originating in Montana’s Powder Ridge Basin. There are various international coal export terminals proposed for Oregon and Washington, and should they proceed unabated, the health and environmental impacts to our region and our way life will be substantial.

    To view the letter in its entirety: Coal to City Council

  • Power Past Coal Rally, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland Oregon

    Power Past Coal Rally 5-7-12

    Power Past Coal Rally, Portland, OR 5-7-12

    The Power Past Coal Rally began at noon on a bright, sunny, spring day with a chant from various members of the Riverkeeper Alliance: “Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie!”

    Power Past Coal Rally At Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square 5-7-12

    Power Past Coal Rally At Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square 5-7-12

    Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Climate Solutions and Greenpeace sponsored the Power Past Coal event with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Environmental Attorney and Chairman of the Waterkeeper Alliance, as the featured speaker. Kennedy, who has been working against coal for more than 30 years, has been dubbed “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine.

    Facing the slowing of U.S. coal fired power plants, coal companies like Massey and Arch Coal are looking to harvest and ship 150 million tons of coal per year, sending 30 -50 trains per day through the Columbia River Gorge via Portland and Vancouver Neighborhoods, where it is intended to be shipped to China. Each car from a coal train can unleash 500 pounds of coal dust. The coal trains proposed to run through Portland and Vancouver will be 75 miles long each day making the Pacific Northwest the largest coal chute in the nation, originating in Montana’s Powder Ridge Basin.

    Toxins emanating from the transport and burning of coal include mercury, arsenic, lead, sulphur dioxide, and ozone among 50 known contaminants. Health impacts, especially for young children, include mental retardation, impacts to speech and gait, lung and liver damage, autism and blindness. Estimates show that 300,000 to 600,000 children are exposed to high levels of mercury each year stemming from the coal industry. Coal emissions also exacerbate asthma, emphysema, can cause cancer, and contaminate rivers and fish, and can also reduce rainfall and snow pack caused by climate change. Just last week, Portland General Electric opposed the placement of a coal terminal near its power plant because dirty coal would hamper plant operations, and Oregon’s Governor Kitzhaber requested a regional Environmental Impact Study to identify public health and environmental impacts expected from seven proposed coal terminals in Oregon and Washington State. [Read More...]

  • Judge Leighton Denies Clark County Motion For Bond

    US District Court Tacoma

    U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton has denied Clark County’s request that Rosemere Neighborhood Association, Columbia Riverkeeper and Northwest Environmental Defense Center (Rosemere et al) post a monetary bond in their ongoing stormwater case.

    In January 2011, the Washington State Pollution Control Board ruled that Clark County’s “alternative” plan for monitoring stormwater was illegal  (see full story here).  Clark County subsequently filed an appeal of the Pollution Board’s ruling, but in December 2011, Judge Leighton ruled that pending their appeal, Clark County must comply with Washington State’s stormwater guidelines (story here).

    In January, Clark County also filed a motion asking the court to require Rosemere et al to post a $2.9 million bond (later reduced to $1.1 million) in the event the county wins in state court the plaintiffs could pay damages.

    Yesterday, Judge Leighton ruled against defendant Clark County’s motion saying,

    Here, Plaintiff has little or no means to post a substantial bond. The litigation seeks to enforce provisions of the Clean Water Act, and as such, is in the public interest. Further, Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, given the indications of the Pollution Control Hearings Board.


  • Petition to stop licensing of Nuclear Reactor at Hanford Nuclear Facility

    Hanford dumping ground photo credit: HOANW

    Hanford dumping ground Photo credit: HOANW

    Energy Northwest (formerly WPPSS) runs the region’s sole commercial nuclear reactor, Hanford Nuclear Facility, located along the Columbia River on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Energy Northwest is owned and run by Washington’s publicly owned utilities. These include Clark Public Utilities in Clark County, as well as Seattle City Light, Snohomish PUD, and Tacoma City Light.

    The Federal Government is attempting to make Hanford a national nuclear waste dump, despite the actions of the Washington citizens to prevent more nuclear waste from being shipped there. In recent months, the reactor had numerous safety violations. As the Seattle Times reported (March, 2011), Energy Northwest officials have been moving to be the first commercial reactor in the US to use the same highly dangerous Plutonium fuel which was released to the environment during the Fukushima Reactor earthquake and tsunami crisis, causing catastrophic damage to a huge populated area of Japan and the ocean – without public disclosure of risks or costs.

    Clark Public Utilities representatives have not objected to use of Plutonium fuel, and supported relicensing the reactor to run 20 more years until the year 2043 – without any public discussion near Clark PUD.

    You can voice your opinion.

    Clark County residents: Click on the link below to sign a petition (managed by Heart of America Northwest, www.hoanw.org) to stop the licensing of the nuclear reactor operating at the Hanford facility, and demand the federal government pursue clean energy instead:

    Petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/cgsclark/


    Fighting For Clean Water


    Nationwide, stormwater is the leading source of water pollution. This is also true for the Columbia River Basin. In urban areas, rain runs across dirty pavement and roofs, picking up toxic metals, oil, grease, bacteria and other contaminants along the way.

    Experts across the country agree: the cost of stormwater pollution is steep. Murky, smelly streams and rivers and fish advisories warning people not to eat otherwise healthy, locally caught fish are a stark reminder of the public costs of stormwater pollution. Yet Clark County tried to make taxpayers pay for stormwater impacts that are the responsibility of private development. Taxpayer dollars already support public stormwater infrastructure and now its time for developers to pay their share.


    Why is Clark County Trying to Evade Protections for Safe, Swimmable Rivers and Livable Communities?

    In 2010, local citizens and conservation groups successfully challenged Clark County’s sweetheart deal with Washington State regulators—a deal that made Clark County the only major county in the state to avoid critical steps to reduce stormwater pollution. Washington’s Pollution Control Hearings Board ruled that the County’s controversial development standards violated state laws to protect clean water. In 2011, a federal court judge also found that Clark County’s actions likely violate the federal Clean Water Act.

    Not only is Clark County violating the law, it is ignoring the very real economic and quality of life costs associated with stormwater pollution. For example, stormwater pollution:

    • Increases flooding—the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that stormwater causes or contributes to at least one quarter of economic losses due to flooding—or $1 billion per year.
    • Adds costs to providing safe drinking water.
    • Threatens public health.
    • Impacts fishing opportunities and water recreation.


    Many cities and counties in Washington State are working hard to clean up polluted waterways. One of the primary ways Washington State is trying to reduce stormwater pollution is by requiring new development and redevelopment to control stormwater as it leaves the property.


  • Rosemere Neighborhood Association’s Clean Water Act settlement victory leads to changes at Millennium coal terminal in Longview, $50,000 in mitigation payments

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Train unloading coal at Millennium terminal in June 2011

    Rosemere Neighborhood Association and Longview based Land Owners and Citizens for a Safe Community have prevailed in their efforts to bring substantial pollution reduction changes to the Millennium Bulk Logistics coal terminal in Longview. The settlement was finalized just days before the community groups planned to file a federal Clean Water Act suit in federal district court against Millennium and their Australian parent company Ambre Energy. Millennium claimed to be operating under a permit first issued to Reynolds Aluminum over 20 years ago.

    The agreement creates substantial new limits on the operation of the facility and requires Millennium to obtain a new pollution permit that will update the outdated pollution limits which are now two decades old.

    A summary of key points from the settlement is below. The entire settlement document can be found here: FINAL Settlement Agreement RNA & LCSC vs MBTL

    Clean Water Act settlement summary:

    Under the agreement with Rosemere Neighborhood Association & Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, until Millennium Bulk Terminals/Longview receives a new Clean Water Act discharge permit from Ecology, Millennium must:

    1. Remove coal and pet coke piles: Millennium will have to remove the massive outdoor coal and petroleum coke piles that have dominated the site in recent years. Millennium will also be prohibited from any outdoor storage of coal. Millennium has already moved much if not all of the coal pile inside the old aluminum plant buildings and plans to remove the pet coke piles within six months.
    2. No new customers: Millennium is prohibited from providing coal to any new customers and thus the terminal is limited to providing coal to Weyerhauser.
    3. New pollution reduction measures: The agreement requires Millennium to implement a capital project to cover over its coal conveyors used to move coal around the site to prevent rainfall from contacting the coal. It is also required to install EPA- certified pollution control filters at stormwater inlets.
    4. Penalty payment of $50,000. In lieu of any Clean Water Act penalties Millennium will pay a $50,000 “Supplemental Environmental Project” in two increments to Friends of the East Fork, which works on habitat restoration for salmon.
    5. Commitment to obtain new pollution control permit: After LCSC and Rosemere filed its notice of intent to sue Millennium filed for a new pollution control permit with the Dept. of Ecology. Under the settlement Millennium must continue to move forward with this new permit which should provide significantly tougher pollution limits on the terminal than those contained in the 20-year old permit Millennium says currently applies to its operations.
    6. Attorney fees and costs. Millennium will pay all of LCSC and Rosemere’s attorneys fees and costs for preparing the case.
  • Camp Bonneville Sampling and Quality Assurance Plan

    This Sampling and Quality Assurance Plan is the next stage in Rosemere Neighborhood Association’s effort to obtain Superfund status for Camp Bonneville. (Click HERE to view previous articles on RNA Superfund Petition for Camp Bonneville)

    Environmental Protection Agency contractors, Ecology and Environment, Inc., of Seattle, will collect soil samples for lab analysis from all over the site and will be installing additional monitors in wells to test groundwater contamination as well as in-stream monitoring in Lacamas Creek.

    The Sampling and Quality Assurance Plan details where sampling will occur and how it will be analyzed to determine what clean-up needs to be achieved to ensure public health and safety.  Data gathering began May 16 2011, and will take about a year before beginning a report on findings to make recommendations on superfund status.

    View the plan here (NOTE: this is a large file – please be patient! Allow a couple of minutes for it to download): Camp Bonneville_Final Sampling and Quality Assurance Plan

  • Progress on Rosemere’s Superfund Petition for Camp Bonneville WA

    From left to right: Renee Nordeen, Ecology and Environment, Inc.; Daniel Wright, geologist; Monica Tonel, USEPA Region X Office of Environmental Cleanup, Site Assessment Manager Assigned to Rosemere's Superfund Petition. Group is reviewing maps of Camp Bonneville in preparation of EPA site inspection plans and data gathering efforts, Dec 8, 2010

    Background: Camp Bonneville Superfund Petition, Submitted by Rosemere Neighborhood Association & Columbia Riverkeeper

    In February 2009, following Rosemere’s extensive involvement in what we consider a faulty clean up action plan at the Camp Bonneville military installation, Vancouver WA, Rosemere and Columbia Riverkeeper submitted a formal petition to the US Environmental Protection Agency to list the property on the National Priorities Superfund List.

    See the original Superfund petition here: http://www.rosemerena.org/home/2009/04/06/preliminary-superfund-petition-for-camp-bonneville-february-3-2009/

    The goal of the petition was to bring EPA back into the project in order to correct failing cleanup efforts, currently at a complete standstill. EPA had been a major participant in cleanup efforts more than 10 years ago, but in 2003, EPA withdrew its involvement citing a lack of cooperation from Clark County government, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and the US Department of Defense that owned the contaminated property. Camp Bonneville was a former 4000 acre international military training site where munitions, including missiles, grenades, and chemical warfare were used in live drills.

    Documented groundwater contamination at the site has entered the Troutdale Aquifer System, a federally designated Sole Source Aquifer that was petitioned by Rosemere and Columbia Riverkeeper and established in 2006. The source of the contamination is a vast collection (both known and unknown) of buried military munitions and chemicals that have leached into the soil and groundwater throughout the site. Rosemere contends that the plume of toxic chemicals has been mobile for many years, and may have exited to compound, threatening Lacamas Creek and its tributaries, and Lacamas Lake which is hydrologically connected to the Columbia River. [Read More...]

  • Alexandra Cousteau — Expedition Blue Planet 2010

    Alexandra Cousteau

    Alexandra Cousteau onstage at the Bagdad Theatre for Expedition Blue Planet 2010

    July 21, 2010, Bagdad Theatre, Portland Oregon

    Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, continues her family legacy with another journey, a 138-day interactive tour of the US, Canada and Mexico, to explore critical water issues. Accompanied by a production crew who film, broadcast, blog, and edit on a biodiesel bus, Ms. Cousteau will travel more than 14,500 miles to film water problems and host community watershed programs. The tour includes coverage of the dwindling Colorado River, the Gulf Coast plagued by the BP Oil Spill, the Great Lakes that are experiencing hot temperatures and low levels, Chesapeake Bay suffering from stormwater pollution and sewage, and the Tennessee Valley where coal ash and mountaintop removal mining poison the water.

    On Day 20 of the tour that started in Washington DC, the crew appeared at the Bagdad Theatre in Portland after traveling from Vancouver BC. The Portland stop was sponsored by Willamette Riverkeeper, where Ms. Cousteau discussed the project, showed film footage, and fielded questions from the audience. The Blue Legacy project was started in 2008 by Ms. Cousteau as a dedication to her grandfather’s famous call, “You have to go and see.”

    Biodiesel bus used by the tour, parked outside the Bagdad theatre. The bus was formerly owned by Sir Paul McCartney

    Biodiesel bus used by the tour, parked outside the Bagdad theatre. The bus was formerly owned by Sir Paul McCartney

    Last year, Blue Legacy traveled 100 days across five continents to study global water problems, discovering similar themes among various cultures: water is a source of spirituality, conflict, and the basis of agribusiness. From the Ganges in India, the plains of Botswana, the Jordan River in Israel and Palestine, and the Cajun lands of the lower Mississippi River, a universal statement recorded from people of all these cultures shows how humanity has common ties, regardless of age, status, or religion: “Water is life.” [Read More...]

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