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Rainier Sewer Fines

The operators at the Rainier Wastewater Treatment Plant are being ordered to clean up their act, as the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division find a number of “serious” safety violations at the facility. Acting on an anonymous complaint that was filed in April, inspections were conducted, resulting in the discovery of a number of safety violations. Oregon’s OSHA issued a number of citations to the City of Rainier, after finding six “serious” violations and two “other than serious” violations. Violations include a failure to conduct confined space safety evaluations, and a lack of safety training for employees that go into enclosed spaces. Other violations include failure to maintain proper records, and a failure to properly train employees on dealing with bloodborne pathogens. One $150 citation dealt with used hypodermic needles being left in a screening area at the plant, along with needles being left in public parks cleaned by city employees. The city is also being cited for failing to offer Hepatitis B vaccines to city employees that are exposed to sewage. The city was also fined a total of $780. They say that corrective measures are being taken.

Boat Cleanup

The U. S. Coast Guard reports that 1,000 gallons of oily waste was removed from a fishing boat that sank in the Warrenton Marina over the weekend. The 43-foot “Western Skies” sank at her moorings at the Warrenton Marina on Sunday; the Coast Guard says that the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund was opened up, taking out $40,000 to hire Global Salvage and Diving to do the cleanup and pollution prevention work. The oil was removed on Sunday; inspectors were back on the scene yesterday, when the spotted some additional oil sheen. An absorbent boom has been set up, along with absorbent pads. The Coast Guard plans to assess the boat again today. They say efforts to contact the owner of the Western Skies have been unsuccessful to this point.

MBT Comment Period

Comments are now being taken on proposed changes to the wastewater permit that Millennium Bulk Terminals operates under. The Department of Ecology is announcing the opening of a public comment period that will run through August 31st, dealing with proposed changes to the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System wastewater permit. Proposed changes to the permit include language dealing with management and treatment of water used in the cleanup of the old Reynolds Aluminum plant; they also propose new permit limits and monitoring requirements for wastewater and stormwater from the bulk material storage and transport activities already going on at the facility. Officials with Ecology say that they would like to hear if they “correctly applied current laws rules and regulations to this action.” It’s emphasized that this permit has nothing to do with the proposed coal export facility, and this is NOT a time to comment on that proposal. You can examine the documents connected to this permit at the Longview Public Library, or on the Department of Ecology web page. A public meeting on this permit is planned for August 17th at the Cowlitz County Expo Center.

Meeting Previews

The Cowlitz County Commissioners are back in their regular space for this morning’s meeting; they had temporarily moved the meetings, after the elevator at the County Administration Building broke down. At 9:45 am, the Commissioners plan to resume a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to revise the Cowlitz County Stormwater Drainage Code, to bring the county into compliance of the Western Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit. They also plan to discuss the “G20 letter,” which would line out the county’s reasons for not being in compliance. Last week, county counsel advised that the idea of citing the permit’s negative impacts on dealing with homelessness probably wouldn’t fly. The regular commission meeting starts at 9.

The Kelso City Council meets at 6 pm today, starting off with an update of the 2017 Legislative session. The Council will also hear the Six-Year Financial Forecast at the beginning of this evening’s meeting. There will be a workshop discussion on the proposed annexation of the “South Kelso Unincorporated Islands,” along with consideration of a supplemental request for Lodging Tax dollars. Additional money is needed to complete the restroom and pavilion reconstruction project at Tam O’Shanter Park, along with an increase for the allocation being made to the Highlander Festival.

Today’s Events

The Cowlitz County Auditor’s Abilities Expo happens today at the McClelland Arts Center in Longview, showcasing the latest in assistive technology for those with hearing loss, vision loss or mobility issues. The Abilities Expo runs from 10 am until 3 pm today, with special demonstrations of the newest assistive technology at 10 am and at 1 pm. CapTel will also be giving away “captioned phones,” and various local groups will share information about the services and support that they provide. This is being held in conjunction with Washington State’s “Get Out the Disability Vote Week,” and National Disability Voter Registration Week.

The Summer Reading Program events continue today. At 2 pm today at the Kelso Library, “Junkology” will be presented by “Dr. Recycle,” Oliver Samonte. This same program will be offered at 3 pm tomorrow at the Longview Library.

Local teens are invited to the Longview Library at 6 pm for “Clothing Upcycle,” learning how they can transform old clothing into something new. Both events are free and are open to all kids in the area.

Come over to the Monticello Park senior living facility at 5:30 pm for a live concert, dinner and a raffle, a benefit for the Altrusa “Breakfast Bunch.” Along with the live music from local bands, a light complimentary dinner will be served, and they will be offering several prizes in the raffle. Space is limited; call 575-1778 to get a space.

“100 Women Who Care” meet again this evening at the Longview Country Club, starting at 5:30 pm. This group meets quarterly, with each attendee donating 100 dollars. The group then chooses a local charity or non-profit to receive the collected donations. Get more information on 100wwclowercolumbiacom.

Burn Ban

There’s now a ban on outdoor burning in Cowlitz and Clark counties, going into effect over the weekend, as we move into the dry part of summer. The ban started on Saturday, and will remain in place until substantial rains return to the region. The burn ban includes all land-clearing, forest management and burning of unwanted brush and debris. Campfires are still allowed, as long as they are in established firepits in designated campgrounds. Campfires are also allowed on private property, as long as they are in metal, stone or masonry firepits, are not more than three feet in diameter, and they meet several other safety conditions.

The annual burn ban from the Department of Natural Resources also went up over the weekend, with outdoor burning now banned on all lands protected by DNR. Recreational fires are also restricted on DNR lands, except in approved firepits in designated campgrounds. You can find out if you’re within the recreational campfire boundaries and get all the latest fire restrictions by going to swcleanair.org, or by contacting your local fire agency.

Highway 47 Wildfire

Travel between Clatskanie and Vernonia was tricky for a while yesterday afternoon, as Highway 47 was closed for several hours, as the Oregon Department of Forestry dealt with a wildfire that covered about thirty acres of land. The fire was reported yesterday morning at about 11:30 am, about four miles south of Clatskanie. The fire was reported in some slash on privately-owned land; wildland fire teams from Columbia and Washington counties responded, along with a “Type 2” helicopter with water drops. At 7 pm, the fire was holding steady at 30 acres in size, and was about 70 percent containedjust before 9 this morning, they announced that the fire is now fully contained. More than 70 firefighting personnel are involved in this effort, with help from fire departments in Clatskanie, Scappoose and Vernonia. The highway has re-opened; no structures were damaged, and no injuries have been reported. The investigation into the cause of the fire is getting under way.

Scappoose Drowning

Columbia County authorities report that a 49 year-old Portland man drowned early yesterday morning near Scappoose. A few minutes before 4 am yesterday, a 911 call came in from the Multnomah Channel, reporting that a man has fallen off of a boat during a fishing trip near Coon Island. They say that Erik Peterson was with two friends and a child who had left a marina in Portland on Saturday, anchoring in the channel Saturday night. The group had planned to get an early start to fishing on Sunday. Peterson was supposed to wake up at 4 to start getting things set up for fishing; others in the party reported that they heard someone fall, which was then followed by a splash. They saw Peterson in the water, and attempted to throw life vests and other floatation devices to him. He went out of sight, and the group called 911. Peterson’s body was recovered about 90 minutes after the initial call; an autopsy is now being set up.

Mailbox Explosion

The Sheriff’s Office is looking into a vandalism incident that was reported yesterday morning in the 700 block of Headquarters Road, where someone apparently used some sort of explosive device to destroy the box. The call came in around 11:30 yesterday morning, but the incident apparently took place the night before. A neighbor reported that they were awakened by an explosion at about 3 am; Deputies say that this device had some power, with pieces and parts of the mailbox, post and hardware found up to 80 feet away from the detonation point. The cost of replacing the mailbox is put at $100; no suspects have been identified.

Wrong-Way Death

State Troopers continue to investigate Saturday night’s fatal crash on I-5 in Chehalis, where a 23 year-old man from Doty was killed as he drove the wrong way on the northbound freeway. The collision happened a little after 11 pm on Saturday, at milepost 77 in Chehalis. They say that TJ Lee Sinnott of Doty was southbound in the center northbound lane when he collided with Chelsea Sigler, 24, of Clackamas. Sinnott died at the scene; Sigler and a passenger were taken to Centralia Providence Hospital for treatment.