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InvestigateWest

Landslide risk is on the rise thanks to climate change, and states are looking to identify hazards

Washington — home to deadliest landslide in the U.S. history — is working to prevent future loss of life by scanning the state for new threats. For years, small planes have buzzed across the skies of Washington carrying specialized instrument packages that peer down through the belly of the aircraft. As they soar above mountains, rivers and valleys, the machinery paints the topography below with laser light thousands of times per second, reflecting the contours of the landscape back to onboard sensors as data, which is later processed to create detailed scans of the terrain.
WASHINGTON STATE
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WA school districts ignoring state transparency laws

Investigation finds school officials don’t follow the rules on reporting abusive isolation and restraint when they send students out of state or to private facilities. In 2015, state Rep. Gerry Pollet, a Seattle Democrat, introduced a bill meant to dramatically reduce physical restraint and isolation of students in Washington.
WASHINGTON STATE

A chronic polluter closes its doors. What’s next?

The owner of a wood treatment plant is trying to walk away from its mess in West Eugene, Oregon. Neighbors say, not so fast. It was 10:47 p.m. when Arjorie Arberry-Baribeault got the phone call that changed her life. A doctor diagnosed her daughter, Zion, then 13, with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Two years later, the son of her best friend and neighbor was diagnosed with the same cancer. Once childhood pals, their kids were now teenagers with matching lumps on their necks. “Wait a damn minute,” Arberry-Baribeault thought. “They’ve played in the same water, the same parks. … What made our kids sick?” The teens’ cancers joined a long list of ailments affecting residents of West Eugene, Oregon. And they thought they knew the culprit: a nearby wood treatment facility.
EUGENE, OR

Some Oregon kids with disabilities being denied access to summer learning, classroom hours owed

State Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis, had experienced what she calls a “bad education day” before she showed up to a June 2 legislative education committee. A parent in her district had gone to Facebook to share that their high school would no longer provide her child with a disability class time after third period for the rest of the school year due to staffing issues.
OREGON STATE

Interior Department to phase out single-use plastics on all public lands

“This story was originally published by Grist. You can subscribe to its weekly newsletter here.”. In January, a poll commissioned by the ocean conservation nonprofit Oceana showed that 82 percent of Americans would support a ban on the sale and distribution of single-use plastics by the National Park Service. Now, that vision will become a reality. The Department of the Interior, or DOI, has announced a phaseout of single-use plastics — not only in national parks, but across the hundreds of millions of acres of public lands that the department manages.
ENVIRONMENT

Two investigative reporters join InvestigateWest

InvestigateWest is thrilled to announce the addition of two full-time investigative reporters, both of whom have a long track record of unearthing critical stories around the West. Kaylee Tornay, who grew up in Bend, Oregon, most recently covered education for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat where she led an investigation...
EVERETT, WA

When the heat is unbearable but there’s nowhere to go

How last year’s record-breaking heat wave caused misery and chaos for Washington’s incarcerated population — and why it’s set to happen all over again. Late last June, farmers in Walla Walla, Washington, noticed something odd happening to their onions. Walla Walla, an oasis in the middle of the state’s high desert, is bursting with vineyards, wheat fields and acres of the city’s eponymous sweet onions. As temperatures climbed above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then above 110 degrees, the oversized onions began to burn, pale blisters forming underneath their papery skins. When the temperature reached 116, the onions started cooking, their flesh dissolving into mush.
SEATTLE, WA

OHSU researcher leads creation of a Portland-based research center on gun violence

A center on gun violence is in the making in Oregon. A researcher at Oregon Health & Science University and the VA Portland Health Care System, recently obtained a grant to create a Gun Violence Prevention Research Center to step up research on gun deaths and injuries, their causes and strategies for prevention. Kathleen Carlson, an epidemiologist and gun injury researcher, said the grant of $250,000 a year for three years is enough to hire staff and become a resource center for data on gun violence and injuries in Oregon and across the region.
OREGON STATE