In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Think now to prevent oil spills later; don't shortchange Hanford cleanup



Cheers: To early consideration of the consequences of a possible environmental accident on the Columbia River. Recently two firms — Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies — proposed to build and operate an oil shipping terminal on the river at the Port of Vancouver. Crude oil would be shipped by train from North Dakota to Vancouver, then loaded onto barges or ships to be sent to refineries. The proposal will have to be carefully vetted. But already the first meeting has been held on how to handle an oil spill emergency. The emergency response equipment could include an on-site trailer stocked with equipment to help distressed wildlife. As the proposal works its way through the planning process, including important details like this will help build confidence in the terminal and its operators.Jeers: To shortchanging treatment of polluted groundwater on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper is warning that the ongoing federal budget reductions have caused the Department of Energy to cut half of the money necessary to reach cleanup milestones. The dimension of the pollution is immense: more than 1 million gallons of nuclear waste have leaked from underground storage tanks, contaminating more than 80 square miles of groundwater that flows toward the Columbia River.

Cheers: To Panda Paws Rescue. The Vancouver animal rescue group was in the spotlight this month for funding an emergency surgery for Cricket, a 1-year-old Queensland heeler/pit bull mix that was shot in the face at its previous home in Modesto, Calif. Alerted to the dog's needs, volunteers coordinated the dog's transport, the emergency surgery performed by Dr. Brandon Sherman and follow-up care at the home of Amanda Giese. Cricket may have some lifelong complications from her injuries, but can look forward to having a happy forever home.

Jeers: To scam artists impersonating Clark Public Utilities employees. The Vancouver-based electric and water utility says at least 20 of its customers have reported getting calls from phony bill collectors. The scam artists claim that unless the customer pays a past-due bill immediately by providing a credit or debit card number over the phone, their service will be terminated. The utility does, of course, try to collect its debts, but does not ask for payment or personal information over the phone, says spokeswoman Erica Erland. If you get a call, she suggests hanging up and calling Clark Public Utilities' service line at 360-992-3000 to report it. The scam is apparently not unique to Clark County: other utilities in the United States and Canada say their customers have been swindled, too.

Cheers: To tools that allow public oversight of political action committees and nonprofit groups. Washington was one of 15 states to receive an "A" grade from the Montana-based National Institute on Money in State Politics. The study awarded points based on the level of disclosure and whether public disclosure forms differentiate between independent spending and other types of campaign expenditures. Oregon also received an "A."

Jeers: To reluctant witnesses. Perhaps the biggest local mystery of 2012 surrounds the death of Tatyana Tupikova, a 22-year-old Battle Ground caregiver whose body was found in a ditch off Highway 503 not far from the Battle Ground Cinema. The medical examiner ruled she died of blunt force trauma, apparently struck by a vehicle around 9 p.m. on May 9 while walking home from a movie. There must have been witnesses along the busy road, but a year later police are frustrated because no one has come forward. Meanwhile her family wonders: How did this happen?