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Valero Downplayed the Level of Toxic Chemicals Released During Hurricane Harvey

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The Valero oil refinery near the border of Manchester, Texas, is accused of downplaying the amount of chemicals released during Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Press says that shortly after the roofs of storage tanks were submerged in flooding waters, releasing massive amounts of benzene and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Valero told officials that they “found no detectable levels of emissions in the community.” Texas Environmental Advocacy Services founder Juan Parras described the odor in the air throughout Manchester as smelling like a gas stove. “I was afraid to even light a match,” said Parras. “I kept thinking everything would burst ... Read More

Tractor-Trailer Driver Sought In Hit-And-Run Death of Highway Worker

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Illinois State Police are on the hunt for a tractor-trailer driver involved in a hit-and-run that killed a Tri-State Tollway worker in Alsip, Illinois Monday as he cleared debris from the roadway. David M. Shwarz, 48, had worked for the Tollway for 25 years as an equipment operator laborer. On Monday he was walking back to his vehicle after picking up debris along the shoulder of the Tollway (I-294) near 127th Street in Alsip in the Chicago Metropolitan Area when a tractor-trailer sideswiped him and his vehicle, the Illinois State Police said. The tractor-trailer struck Mr. Schwarz just before 12:30 ... Read More

FDA clears redesigned duodenoscope

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first duodenoscope with a disposable distal cap, a redesigned version of a previous model of specialized endoscope designed to reduce the risk of transmitting infections from patient-to-patient. The Pentax ED34-i10T duodenscope, which is an upgrade from the Pentax ED-3490TK duodenoscope, is intended to enable doctors to visualize and access the upper gastrointestinal tract to treat bile duct disorders and other upper gastrointestinal problems. Duodenoscopes are flexible, lighted devices that are threaded through the mouth of a patient and into the top of the small intestine. The devices have many small parts ... Read More

Want to be a Self-Driving Car Engineer? A Lyft Scholarship Could Help

Lyft car - Wikimedia Commons

The App-based ride service Lyft is doing its part to make sure self-driving cars will soon become a reality. The San Francisco-based company announced it is partnering with the education platform Udacity to offer scholarships to teens interested in becoming self-driving vehicle engineers. Udacity, an online education portal, kicked off its first 36-week “nanodegree” course for self-driving car engineering last year. It also offers an introductory course to self-driving engineering designed to provide students who possess minimal programming experience the foundation they need to enter the larger career-oriented program. Lyft is partnering with Udacity to offer students scholarships to the four-month introductory program. Not ... Read More

AL AG joins coalition investigating opioid makers, distributors

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Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is among a bipartisan coalition of 41 state attorneys general seeking documents and information from makers and distributors of prescription opioid painkillers as part of multistate investigations aimed at curbing the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. “Opioid abuse has reached a crisis level in Alabama and in many portions of the country, and earlier this year I joined with fellow attorneys general in investigating what role opioid manufacturers may have had in creating or prolonging the opioid abuse epidemic, and to establish the appropriate course of action to help solve this crisis,” Marshall said. “Our investigation continues ... Read More

Manufacturing Plant to Pay Nearly $26,000 Over Worker Death

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A New York manufacturing plant has been fined $25,803 by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration over an accident that led to the death of a worker. On Oct. 18 at Fort Miller Fab3 Corporation in Greenwich, New York, 45-year-old Daniel J. Ingram was killed when he became pinned by a 7,000-pound steel box, the Post Star reports. According to the report by OSHA, the box was on a forklift 10 to 18 inches off the ground while workers were removing its wheels to prepare it for delivery. When Ingram stepped out of the forklift through a door, the load became ... Read More

Equifax Was Hacked in March, Months Before Disclosed Data Breach

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New information about the Equifax data breach that exposed 143 million Americans to potential identity theft and financial loss calls into question the credit-reporting agency’s response to serious security issues. According to Bloomberg, inside sources say that Equifax learned of a major breach of its computer systems in March – months earlier than it previously admitted to. Although the relationship between the two data breaches is unclear, one of Bloomberg’s sources said they involved the same hackers. Both times, the intruders appeared to have exploited a weakness in the Apache Struts web server software that Equifax had patched on some of its ... Read More

Judge Files Whistleblower Complaint Accusing California Regulators of Retaliation

whistleblower retaliation

The former chief administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission is filing a whistleblower complaint against the utility regulator, alleging she was fired for cooperating with federal investigators probing the Commission’s lax oversight of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). According to The Mercury News, Judge Karen Valentina Clopton claims the Utilities Commission dismissed her from her top-ranking judicial position in August in retaliation for her cooperation with federal investigators probing the 2010 natural gas explosion that destroyed a San Bruno, California neighborhood. The explosion occurred when an old 30-inch natural gas pipeline ruptured underneath a suburban neighborhood just ... Read More

Raw milk linked to Brucella bacteria exposure

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Got raw milk? It’s a slogan used by Texas-based K-Bar dairy, which is currently in the limelight for illnesses spanning seven states linked to Brucella bacteria found in its raw milk, which had not undergone pasteurization to kill germs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas State Department of Health Services have received reports of people who drank K-Bar’s milk and have symptoms of brucellosis in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Ohio, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, according to a CDC press release. “It’s very important for people who drank raw milk from this dairy to seek treatment ... Read More

Frontier Hit With $1.5 Million DOT Fine for Too-Long Tarmac Delays

Frontier airlines plane on runway - Wikimedia Commons

U.S. transportation regulators hit Frontier Airlines with a near-record fine of $1.5 million for violating a federal law prohibiting passenger planes from excessively long tarmac delays. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, an investigation led by the agency’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that from Dec. 16-18, 2016, Frontier allowed a dozen of its domestic flights to remain on the tarmac at Denver International Airport for more than three hours without allowing passengers an opportunity to deplane. The long tarmac delays on these 12 flights occurred during and after a large snowstorm. Federal transportation rules prohibit U.S. airlines from allowing ... Read More