News of the Bay: March 28, 2014

Check out this edition of News of the Bay for breaking news affecting San Francisco Bay

3/20/2014
San Jose Mercury News
Photos of 30-day trek on San Francisco Bay Trail capture its many wonders
Kurt Schwabe had just been laid off from a dead-end job when he decided to start walking.
Not just any kind of walking — purposeful walking.
“What I really wanted to do was expand the tools that I feel I’m best at, writing and photography, and I love to be outdoors. I wanted to help make a difference about something,” he says.
And that’s how he found himself spending the entire month of June walking the 330 miles of the San Francisco Bay Trail, a still-uncompleted project that began in 1997 and that runs through 47 cities in all nine Bay Area counties.
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3/20/2014
San Francisco Magazine
History Written in Water
San Francisco Bay is clearer than it has been since the gold rush. Its waters are less muddy, and much of the befouling sediment that formerly covered the bay floor has washed away into the Pacific.
Good news, right? Wrong. Actually, the fact that the bay’s water is more transparent than it has been in 150 years is causing some serious problems, a development that is both unexpected and deeply ironic. The silt that until recently muddied the bay was created by what has always, and rightly, been considered California’s first and worst environmental disaster: hydraulic mining. By 1853, panning for gold was no longer profitable, so miners began using water cannons to blast away riverbanks and entire mountains. The amount of sand and dirt blown loose was inconceivable: One geologist estimated it at one and a half billion cubic yards, or eight times more than the material removed to build the 48-mile-long Panama Canal. So vast was the quantity of sediment that the mighty Sacramento River’s bed was raised 13 feet at the capital.|
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3/24/2014
New York Times
Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes
A dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant is hitting markets nationwide, for sale by the vial, the gallon and even the barrel.
The drug is nicotine, in its potent, liquid form — extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a cocktail of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals to feed the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry.
These “e-liquids,” the key ingredients in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins. Tiny amounts, whether ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal. A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child.
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3/25/2014
San Jose Mercury News
South Bay Passenger Rail Corridor Proposed for Moving Crude Oil
The tracks that carry Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains through about a dozen heavily populated East Bay and South Bay communities could become a rail superhighway for potentially explosive crude oil transports to Central California under a plan by the Phillips 66 oil company, Berkeley officials warn.
A project at Phillips 66’s Santa Maria refinery would enable it to receive crude oil from North American sources that are served by rail, according to a draft environmental report under review by San Luis Obispo County.
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3/27/2014
CBS Local
California Drought Creating Toxic Clams in San Francisco Bay
California’s ongoing drought is affecting much more than just drinking water supplies as scientists are looking into how declining rainfall may be increasing the toxicity of the San Francisco Bay.
With less water flowing into the bay during the drought, there is an increase in naturally occurring toxins—materials which are then ingested by all kinds of creatures, including the overbite clams, which are non-native to the ecosystem, and then move up the food chain.
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