Friday, December 28, 2012

An Open Letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers. RE: Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point

The US Army Corps of Engineers held an open, public, hearing on December 13th, 2012, in conjunction with the Department of Ecology and with representatives from Whatcom County in regards to the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point and how an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Scoping Process could look going forward.  

As a Board Member for Washington Physicians' for Social Responsibility, I gave a 2 minute professional testimony asking to expand the EIS scope to include impacts of personal and public health. To see my speech jump to 2:47:45

Here is the text of my speech: 

Hello, I’m Alex Hamling, a pediatrician in the Seattle area and a Board Member of Washington Physician’s For Social Responsibility. 

I’m here to ask for an increase in scope of the Health Impact Assessment regarding the coal export from the Cherry Point terminal in Whatcom County. 

The coal export terminal would degrade community health by increasing pulmonary, cardiac, cancer, and safety risks because of the diesel particulate matter, coal dust, and noise exposure. U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has shown that coal dust exposures at high levels and for prolonged periods of time in coal miners has been linked to increased cases of bronchitis, emphysema, and black lung disease. 

The increased train traffic, and the amount of coal being transported will negatively impact local homes and business with the coal dust deposits. The areas affected are vast: locally they include the Downtown Seattle waterfront, Hiram Chittenden Locks, and Golden Gardens.

There is also a risk for localized pollution to air, surface water, groundwater, and soil in communities ranging from Wyoming to China where coal extraction, transportation, and combustion take place. Under-represented communities including the Nooksack River valley would be affected with increased exposure to coal dust from trains.

The coal trains have a negative health impact on people and also on the local ecosystems in Whatcom County.  There will be increased stresses on endemic herring in Bellingham Bay, which are an at risk keystone species in the Salish Sea food web. There is risk of contaminating the composition of topsoil within 0.62 miles of Cherry Point terminal, caused by upwards of ~20% coal by weight. Local water sources could be adversely affected by the potential of introducing invasive species when barges empty ballast water at Cherry Point.

I worry that these facts conflict with the values of the community and further that we all have a civic responsibility to the communities of which we are an intricate part. 

There is real harm related to the impacts on the local environment and economy, community health, and social equity that should not be overlooked. 

Thank you,

Alex Hamling

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex

Thursday, October 25, 2012

WPSR Community Forums for Health Professionals

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility 
Engaging the community to create a healthy, peaceful and sustainable world.
You’re Invited! 
Join WPSR health professionals, friends, family, and colleagues for a unique health forum:

“Critical News & Views: Preventing Environment Related Disease”
Thursday, November 15     
4:45 – 7:00 pm
Ramblin Jack’s, 520 East 4th AveOlympia, WA

Expect brief & lively presentations on the latest research and implications for practice by WPSR and our Olympia partners. Light appetizers, spirits & spirited discussion on the issues WPSR supports:

  • Why multiple coal trains in the state of Washington may be harmful to human health
  • How we can protect children from exposure to toxic chemicals in their environment 
  • Why nuclear power plants are a threat to public health
  • How some Washington hospitals are leading the healthy food revolution 
We are delighted to offer this program to the Olympia community! RSVP’s welcome:  

Hosted By:

Alex Hamling, MD, MBA, Board Member and Tracy Bier, M ED, Executive Director, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

Evan Hirsch, MD, ABIHM, Hirsch Holistic Family Medicine                                          

Beth Doglio, Campaign Director, Climate Solutions

Edward Cates, MD, Pioneer Family Medicine

1604 NE 50th Street, Seattle WA 98105 ~ Phone: 206.547.2630  ~

Friday, October 5, 2012

Marking the passing of Sebastian and Colonel

I call your attention, for this evening and tomorrow morning will mark the farewell passing and final rights of Heidi's and I's two beloved chickens: Sebastian and Colonel.
Sebastian with his butt facing you! 

Colonel on her roost pole and peaking out from the way back! 

These two chickens represent one third of the new influx of six pullets that we raised through their "teenage" years as the matured into their "adult" life and development of their chicken personalities.

Seeing how this is our second round of pullets, with the first ending in 4 out of 4 being hens that remarkably walked, talked, and acted like roosters and all headed back to Vashon Island, Heidi and I were immediately suspicious about Sebastian.  With good foresight, we named him with a HIM name!  He just always had that "rooster" look over his smug beak.

As we know, here in Seattle, "roosters are not permitted" and must be dealt with accordingly; even if the day you decide to do the deed is the day prior to your wedding.  For more ideas about what is permitted and not permitted, I'll direct your readings towards the Seattle Municipal Code, Title 23 - Land Use Code.
Ariel and Billina (alive and well!)

Not having the expertise on dispatching live animals, there was a mighty battle that lead to the subduing of the crowing Sebastian.  His fresh carcass promptly went into the freezer after being double bagged, while Heidi and I headed off to our "Non-rehearsal Rehearsal Dinner" at Mamma Melina:

Dr. Alex and Heidi at our "Non-rehearsal Rehearsal Dinner."

For weeks Seb remained alone in his cold dark tomb until last week when Colonel joined him after she had a presumed and unfortunate neck injury that never healed well.  For the past two weeks, Colonel had a  constant creak in her neck and was unable to walk.  Eventually, despite setting up water and feed bowls close to her beak she was unable to successfully heal and we had to do what was right for her too.

Go figure! Here in King County there are handy guidelines on how to dispose of dead fowl:
     1. "Individual dead birds weighing less than 15 pounds can be disposed of in the household garbage. Place the bird in two sealed plastic bags."
     2. "A bird weighing less than 15 pounds may also be buried on the owners' property. But disposal in the garbage is usually a better option to avoid predators digging up the carcass."

We chose option 1, and this action will be carried about the time the sun rises this morning.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Crafternoon Project: April 2012

Canning: Where it all started!  WE ARE...

When Thinking of Your Choices for Your 2012 Charitable Contribution:
 Think about funding for local cancer research through 

If you are interested in donating or you wish to volunteer on our committee 
please contact Greg Smith at for more information.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gardening - The Fruits (Veggies) of Life

The day Heidi and I were first introduced to our P-Patch garden in the Roosevelt P-Patch!

Inherited rainbow chard plants! 

Inherited beets (see Jason's Journal)...
I can't say that Heidi or I have a fondness for beets... yet. :-)

Heidi and I set off to work and meticulously laid our plans for different seeds that we would order and plant within which month and which month we are expecting to harvest them: 
Preplanning how the two gardens are going to be layed out.

Books that we consulted in order to make our decisions:
The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide - Seattle Tilth's
Sunset's Western Garden Book (large book, and often seen at used book stores).

What we ended up with for both the Roosevelt P-Patch and the 12th Ave NE home garden:
Carrot, Parmex (516 - 1 Pkt. ( 2 grams))516Super Sweet -- Kids Love 'em! Great for containers and coldframes, and extra useful for cooking.1$3.95$3.95
Radish, Cook's Custom Mix(614 - Pkt. (3 grams))614Our favorite colors to add to any dish.1$3.95$3.95
Spinach, Double Choice (026 - 1 Packet (2 grams))026Perfect for baby spinach and mature harvest.1$3.95$3.95
Squash, Boston Marrow (963 - 1 Pkt. (15 seeds))963An extremely unusual New England heirloom.2$3.95$7.90
Pea, Sugar Snap (480 - 1 Pkt. (2 oz.))480Super Vigorous and Super Productive Snap Pea Good fresh and whole, or shucked and steamed!2$3.95$7.90
Squash, Summer, Mix (742 - 1 Pkt. (15 seeds))742Unique bush-type Squash for small space gardens1$3.95$3.95
Gourmet Organic Arugula(E027 - 1 Pkt.)E027Zesty, peppery flavor. Certified Organic.1$4.95$4.95
Cauliflower, Rainbow Mix (296 - Pkt. (30 seeds))296Our own blend of brightly colored cauliflowers.1$4.95$4.95
Sub Total$41.50

All our seeds came from The Cooks Garden catalog.
(Tomato starts are still yet to be purchased, most likely from Seattle Tilth plant sale. 
Follow along with our actual planting and harvesting schedule (Google Doc)! 

What I've made so far:

Beets from the P-patch boiled and then added to the mixture +
Beet greens diced up and sauteed +
Chard from the P-patch sauteed +
Small peppers +
Butternut squash, cubed +
Chirzo = 

Classes we've taken so far:

Class 1 - “How to get Started – Garden Planning”

                Now is the time to begin preparing your garden for a bountiful spring, summer and beyond. Experienced gardeners know that careful planning now will bring big yields later. This class is geared towards the beginning gardener and will show you how to decide the best crops to grow, select the appropriate seed and design your plot for optimum benefit. You will also learn how to rotate your crops and things you can do now to prepare your soil for planting in the next few weeks. This class will be held indoors.

Location:  Bradner Gardens Park, Tuesday April 3, 2012 6:00 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Some of our snap pea seedlings are starting to come up in early April!

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex