Importance of the Chemical Safety Board

“Over its 20-year history, the Chemical Safety Board has investigated more than 150 explosions, fires, and spills at chemical plants and oil refineries.

Included are the 2012 Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, California, which drove about 15,000 people to seek medical care, and the 2013 West Fertilizer Co. explosion in Texas, where 15 people, including 12 emergency responders, died and 350 homes were damaged or destroyed.

Similar to the National Transportation Safety Board, which probes airplane, ship, and railroad accidents, the Chemical Safety Board has no regulatory authority and does not issue fines or prosecute companies. But its findings often point to problems that other agencies may act upon: It has issued 815 recommendations designed to prevent tragedies at oil and chemical plants.

Established by Congress in the wake of two chemical plant explosions in Texas that killed or injured more than 350 workers, the board has a staff of 35 and a budget of $11 million a year — minuscule compared with other federal agencies. For the next fiscal year, the House has proposed $12 million in funding, while the Senate has proposed $11 million.”

“For example, after the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, the Obama administration enacted safety measures requiring more detailed public reporting of chemical hazards and improved safety training. But under President Donald Trump, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt moved to rescind most of the new rules, saying they would cost the industry too much — an estimated $88 million a year — and could make public information about chemical plants that would be useful to terrorists.

Moure-Eraso said the board’s highly technical investigations are not duplicated by federal regulatory agencies, which “obviously have failed to prevent some major chemical accidents.”

The EPA inspector general’s office under the Trump administration appears to agree. In a June report, the office said the board’s work complements other agencies’ work because “the root causes of an incident go beyond whether there was a violation of a regulation.””

All quotes are from this article. Personally I wish they wouldn’t focus on it being attacked by Trump because that immediately turns a lot of people against the article and they won’t even read it. There’s some really really important information here.

The photo is copied from the grist article link below.

Grist article on the importance of the chemical safety board and the need to refund it

Grist Article on the Importance of the Chemical Safety Board

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Weekend Adventures

A few recent shots to share with you from last weekend. This first one of the helicopter dipping in the turtle pond is during the recent Memaloose #2 Fire on the Oregon hills along the Columbia River between Mosier and Rowena. The fire was in mop up the last few days which has been a slow process because of the steep terrain and cliffs. Evacuations have all been dropped and the fire was knocked down.

By the way there’s no smoke in the picture because I’m looking south away from the fire.

I started out the morning on top of the world. At least that was the name of the aid station along the route of marathon set up by the Columbia Gorge running club. I had the pleasure of running radio communications at aid station two. My view included a glimpse to the north of Underwood Mountain in Washington state.

The Marathon started here:

On my way up the hill to my station it was misting/raining lately which was so refreshing after a long dry spell. Did not amount to much but it sure felt good. It also provided me with a rainbow. A great start to a beautiful day.

Here comes one of the runners through the aid station.

The end of the 50k

it really was the top of the world, and this is even on the way back down

This next image was taken After the race, Clear across the valley. Looking across the Hood River Valley towards the west and Binn Hill from Fir hill area on the east side of Hood River Valley.

Driving up over the hills and down the valleys to Mosier and upstate road I stopped and took the first photo of the helicopter picking up water. Along the way I stopped to take the photo of the tree because it grabbed my attention.

Here was the view of the backside of Memaloose #2 fire, although this iPhone shot doesn’t capture much. To the far right of the red circle there is smoke and a burned area that has come up over the hill from the north. Fortunately it did not spread much more than this.

After I watch the helicopter I drove back down to the freeway and up to the Dalles and back down to the Lyle rest area where I took a few more photos.

I visited the Klickitat River which is very murky from the glacial run off.

I even found a place to park out of the way somewhere and slept in my car because I knew I was too tired to drive home.

The next morning I stopped and grabbed a couple more shots from the Lyle rest area, happy to see that the fire across the river had calmed down considerably

I chatted with some tourists at the rest area and gave them plenty of information on my way to work at the Mt. Adams Chamber visitor center in White Salmon, Washington. Just doing my job!

Leave No Trace

I have come to realize that my heavy tagging on Flickr in early years has brought a lot more people to places I love. This can be good or bad depending on how they behave!

There are now numerous hiking guides and photos on the Internet and detailed maps for most any place you want to explore. People are very influenced by a photo. Many see a picture that shows them exactly where some beautiful spot is, and it goes on their bucket list.

I have seen a huge increase in the number of people coming to my little spot on Trout Lake which was always kind of a local place. I know that I have a lot to do with that because I always tagged everything on Flickr for years, and people tell me that’s why they’re there. There’s good and bad to this, tourism is important to many areas economically but some locations can’t handle the extra traffic, and can actually be damaged.

Spirit falls used to be another local treasure, made popular first by kayakers going over the falls, and now tons of photographers from far away have it on their bucket list. It’s a fragile little location, and a very dangerous unofficial non-trail.

Someone pointed out to me that on the Internet you can find pictures and Maps for all these places, not to mention hiking guides people have written with detailed information. Some of the hiking guides were created with no respect for private property, leading to problems in areas like Spirit Falls on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. The main access getting used down the boulder field was on private property and the owners finally cut off access so a new way in had to be found. Even the parking was on the private land, so burming and landscaping changes by the owners took that away. Now there’s not much more than a wide spot in the road now to park.

There is no real trail to Spirit Falls, just some boot tracks down a very steep dangerous slope. There are rattlesnakes and poison oak and rolling boulders to contend with, and the special little glen that contains spirit falls has a lot of moss that is damaged by heavy traffic.

It is sad to realize that our drive to get out in nature can also lead to the destruction of what we love. It’s one thing if the place has been developed to handle the extra visitors. It’s different if it’s a little known place that mostly just locals know about, and suddenly it gets flooded by people coming to get their picture and leaving again. Hopefully they at least interact with local businesses and help the economy while they’re there! In my opinion that is another responsibility of explorers in new territory. Be considerate of the locals who have in some situations created access to the special spots, and who have in many cases been taking care of them for years.

What I see is that better education about these facts is important. As photographers, I think we have a responsibility to pay attention to where we go and how we walk in fragile locations, as well as how we share locations and interact with new communities. Perhaps some places should be left undefined on social media.

Being responsible can be tricky though, since cell phones tend to automatically record GPS information, and make it so easy to snap a picture and upload it without even thinking. We get so excited to share what we found, but do we take time to consider the effect on fragile locations?

I know some landscape photographers that are switching focus because they are recognizing the impact they are having on those special spots, bringing other people there in droves.

The Internet has opened up the world. There’s no going back. Educating people about treading lightly on the land and respecting local communities and private property need to go hand in hand with the new easy availability of information.

I promote “Leave no Trace” both physical as well as virtual data ie: GPS data embedded in photos on the internet. Most people today take pictures with their phone and upload them to social media, often unaware that the photo includes GPS data automatically unless you tell your phone not to allow location info on photos.

Step back and look at the big picture. Look at the changes in your own life time in the wild zones you might love to visit. Places I went as a child that were wild and fragile have been irrevocably damaged after becoming well known. Our actions in how we share these things can have a lasting impact on the places we love.

Many photographers joke about all the people that come after them and try to use the same tripod holes. I like to encourage people to explore for themselves, find their own special spots, create their own tripod holes, and consider turning off their GPS on Photos. This can be done under settings/ location in most phones and cameras.

Leave no virtual trace to hidden, unique, fragile, and/or undeveloped locations. Once this information is out there on the Internet it can’t be taken back.

I would love any thoughts and discussion on the subject, please do share and comments your thoughts.

In Honor of Loved Ones

buddha statue in a foggy Columbia River Gorge, surrounded by snow.

Many of us have lost so many loved ones already this year, and it brings with it an occasional melancholy that can also be the doorway to good memories.   Today, processing photos from my archives, I ran across this set of images I took at a dear friends home in the White Salmon area.  Sharon  has passed away but I could feel her delight in nature and photography as I looked at these images of the Buddha statue in her yard.  Therefore, I will share these for the first time publicly in memory of Sharon McCormack, and in sincere empathy with all who have lost those we hold close.  Strong personal beliefs and experiences have shown me that life continues beyond death as we know it, and our loved ones are not truly lost to us.  My brother Dennis (died 1-24-18 age 79), sister Nora (died 12-13-16 age 82) and many others are but a thought and a memory away, and it is my belief I will see them again.
May you each find peace and comfort in remembering the lives of your own loved ones, and feel their love for you eternally.

Buddha in Snow, in memory of Loved Ones.

Buddha in Snow, in memory of Loved Ones.

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Clicking on these photos should open a new tab where you can see the higher quality image in my SmugMug photo galleries.

Namaste’

(The divine within me sees and honors the divine within you)

From Sun to Hail in One Hour


This was Saturday afternoon 11/05/16 near Anchor Point, Alaska on the southern Kenai Peninsula, where I nearly got covered with hail at Whiskey Beach. Slideshow with music is posted on the blog post.  I wanted to stay and watch it happen and then I looked at the hill I had to drive up to get out of there. It’s a very very steep windy road already getting white, and I was not at all sure of the van in the icy conditions. Good thing, because by the time I was driving on the highway’s they were solid white and getting slick with about a half inch of hail. Next morning I discovered all the hail balls were perfectly preserved in the freezing temperatures  😀😳

Music is “Soaring” by David Michael of Purnima Productions from the album “Above the Clouds” which can be purchased at this link
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/davidmichael22

Follow my blog here starlisablackphotography.com where you can also find links to all my photo sites and social media. 

Photo Gallery can be seen here:  starlisa.smugmug.com   

Fossilized Teeth, unknown

I am working at a local museum now, the Gorge Heritage Museum in Bingen, Washington. Today I had a local visitor and his mother who brought 3 fossilized teeth in to show me.  They are hoping to identify what the teeth may be.  I am guessing Bovine style from the looks, but presumably much older than cows.  They are also quite large.  Fascinating!   I really enjoyed looking at them and holding their heavy smooth weight in my hands.  Here are photos in case anyone has a lead for me!

 

Solidarity

My heart goes out to the victims families in ‪#‎Paris‬, in ‪#‎Lebanon‬, in ‪#‎Syria‬, , ‪#‎Pakistan‬ , ‪#‎Behrain‬, and in so many other countries in this sad time. Many of us on this side of the world are most familiar with Paris, and we hurt for them following this attack 11-13-2015.   Many more in other countries (such as in Lebanon on 11-12-15) have been killed by terrorists, so many more have become refugees. Huge numbers of refugees are turned away daily from borders around the world; desperate for a place to lay down and be safe.

I have tried hard to keep on adding positive compassionate loving energy into this world, but beyond that I really cannot say I have done anything to change the tide or help. So hard to not feel helpless, and so many in the world seem to want to blame and hate all those who are different. So many Muslims have been suffering at the hands of a few, just as those same few brought great pain to Paris.
At the same time, there is that underlying fear… what if it comes to us, and who can we trust anymore? Mother taught me that everyone has a spark of the Divine with them, just that some people forget and we can help them remember they are good people, by being kind to them.

Flag-solidarity

These are but a few of the Flags of countries currently suffering.
Starting in the upper left hand corner, and moving
clockwise to the right:

#Myanmar (used to be Burma) (upper left)
#Afghaniston (upper right)
#Bahrain (red and white, zigzag)
#France (blue, white and red bars)
#PanArab (Flag of the Arab Revolt) (lower right)
#Syria (bottom left)
#Iraq (above Syria)
#Pakistan (white crescent moon and star on green)

Solidarity-Flag

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

For the “Super Blood Moon” event I went with my friend Gary up on Dalles Mountain in hopes of seeing more of the moon coming over the horizon. In hindsite, I am not certain that was quite the case, but it was still a lovely night. Many people were out on the roads last night flocking to favorite locations in hopes of getting “the shot” or seeing what may for some of us be a once in a lifetime experience.
Having watched several lunar eclipses over the years, still it was really different seeing the moon become eclipsed as it was rising over distant hills as the sun set and twilight came on.
Here are a few images, each with its own time stamp. Hope you enjoy!

Supermoon-Eclipse_WM2_6070

Supermoon-Eclipse_WM_0363

Supermoon-Eclipse_WM_0367

Supermoon-Eclipse_WM-crop_6135

Supermoon-Eclipse_WM_0394

Supermoon-Eclipse_WM_0399

Supermoon-Eclipse-WM_6142

Supermoon-Eclipse_6186

Supermoon_Lunar-Eclipse_6213

Grand Flying Adventure, Lady Washington from above!

I got blessed this week to be able to FLY over my home turf, a new experience for me!  Can you tell I am still thrilled?

IMG_0373

There is a wonderful pilot tour and training company in Hood River, Oregon called Classic Wings Aero Service  (if you click on that blue name it will open a new page for their website).  Scott took me up on an exhilarating tour over the Lady Washington, a tall ship that starred as the British ship the Interceptor in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

LadyWashington_flight-crop2-7618 LadyWashington_flight-7602 LadyWashington_flight-crop-7528 LadyWashington_flight-7526

She ( the Lady) was sailing near Hood River, Oregon on one of her stops along the Columbia River as part of her educational tours.  Sailed with a largely volunteer crew, the tours allow time for dockside tours (by donation); they also do evening sails in many ports, with tickets costing only $35.00 for a couple hours on the river on this historical replica. As you can see by all the people on board, the sails are popular!  Click on the blue link Lady Washington for their official website.

Here are a few detail shots from the tall ship

Meanwhile back on the small plane, up and away we went, circling back and forth across the Columbia River.  Scott seemed to know instinctively what I would find fascinating to shoot, and making sure to position the plane in various angles to the subjects, including Lady Washington.  What a joy, an exhilarating feeling being far above the hustle and bustle of towns and cars and people; all the cares of the world fade away and there is only the moment.  If you get an opportunity, save up for a tour with these folks in Hood River, Oregon called Classic Wings Aero Service  (if you click on that blue name it will open a new page for their website).

Here are a few more photos from above, all cell phone shots… and I will be doing a second post later with more images from the big camera.

Peace be with you!  Starlisa