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Weekly News: November 2004

November 19, 2004

Restoration Plan Saved Despite Bankruptcy Claim

A restoration plan for an area in Bellingham, Washington, threatened for two years by bankruptcy proceedings, will soon be implemented. On June 10, 1999, a pipeline operated by the Olympic Pipe Line Company ruptured, spilling 236,000 gallons of gasoline into Whatcom Creek. The resulting explosion killed three people and resulted in significant injuries to natural resources, including a forest fire that burned 26 acres of parklands. Trustees, including NOAA as the lead agency, worked with the company to develop a restoration plan. It called for acquiring 12 acres of parklands, constructing park improvements, wetlands, and salmonid-rearing habitats, funding long-term maintenance and monitoring, and reimbursing trustee costs. Shortly after the final plan was completed in August 2002, the company filed for bankruptcy. Since then, NOAA has negotiated with the trustees, the company, and their insurers to preserve the restoration claim in the bankruptcy and reorganization process. That process culminated on November 12, 2004, when the bankruptcy court approved the company’s reorganization plan. All elements of the restoration plan were preserved. The company will transfer the lands and funds to the trustees to implement restoration. For more information, contact Doug Helton.

Continuously Operating Reference Station Network Surpasses 500 Mark

The nationwide network of continuously operating reference stations (CORS) now includes more than 500 sites owned and operated by a variety of federal, state, and municipal agencies, universities, and non governmental organizations. The CORS network is the backbone of the National Spatial Reference System, defined and managed by NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS). NGS provides access to Global Positioning System data from this network free of charge to the public via the Internet. Originally designed as a tool for precise positioning and safe navigation, the CORS network is also used in weather prediction and for understanding climate variations. For more information, contact Richard Snay.

NOAA Investigating Great Blue Heron Mortality

The National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science (NCCOS) and its partners are investigating the recent increase in mortality of great blue herons in the Chesapeake Bay caused by yellow fat disease, or steatitis. A 2001 study suggests the mortality increase is possibly linked with high levels of microcystin, a toxin produced by some cyanobacteria. NCCOS is funding the comparative analysis of microcystins in great blue herons that died of steatitis with those that died of other causes. Investigation partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wright State University, and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, Inc. For more information, contact Quay Dortch or Marc Suddleson.

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