Thursday Briefing

Hand amputation accident leads to proposed fines of $182,000 against supermarket chain. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is citing Publix Supermarkets for 16 alleged safety violations uncovered after the September accident, which occurred while the worker was cleaning conveyor equipment at a store in Jacksonville, Fla. OSHA, calling Publix a repeat offender, placed the company into its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Separately, OSHA also is seeking fines of $180,180 against a pipeline company in Colorado and $174,500 against a food manufacturer in Texas. OSHA, The Florida Times-Union

Japan’s nuclear safety chief blasts officials for ignoring risks. In unusually frank public testimony, Haruki Madarame, head of a panel of nuclear experts who advise the government, said Japanese officials succumbed to a blind belief in the country’s technical prowess and failed to thoroughly assess the risks of building reactors in an earthquake-prone country. “Though global safety standards kept on improving, we wasted our time coming up with excuses for why Japan didn’t need to bother meeting them,” he said. The New York Times

U.S., five other nations launching new plan to curb global warming. With efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions stalled, the initiative will address other pollutants also blamed for climate change, namely soot, methane and hydrofluorocarbons. Joining the U.S. in the five-year effort are Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Ghana and Bangladesh. The initiative will be administered by the United Nations Environment Program. The Washington Post, Time

Accidents take the lives of more 16- and 17-year-old drivers. The death toll for drivers in that age category was 211 during the first six months of last year, up 11 percent from the same period in 2010. If that trend continued for the full year, it would mark the end of eight consecutive years of declining fatalities among the young drivers. The consultant who compiled the figures speculated that the reversal stemmed from more young drivers on the road and the leveling off of the benefits of graduated driver licensing programs, which phase in driving privileges for teens. USA Today, The New York Times

Proposed rules for drillers to disclose fracking chemicals flawed by loopholes. The federal government’s proposed regulations for energy companies using the controversial drilling technique would allow drillers to exempt certain chemicals or mixtures of compounds considered trade secrets. Critics say that, because of the vagueness of the rules, it’s possible companies will be allowed to keep the information secret from regulators as well as the public. Scientists say they need the information to track water and air quality near drilling sites and to study health effects. Inside Climate News

Researchers find arsenic in infant formula and cereal bars. A study by Dartmouth scientists found elevated levels of arsenic, mostly of a type that is a human carcinogen, in foods using organic brown rice syrup as a sweetener. One infant formula they examined contained an arsenic concentration that was six times the federal limit for arsenic in bottled or public drinking water. The scientists said there is “an urgent need” for regulation to limit arsenic in food. Consumer Reports, Environmental Health Perspectives

Recalls: JAA Meat Products meat and poultry, Slalom Glider slides,

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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