Thursday Briefing

Brazilian prosecutors file criminal charges against 17 Chevron and Transocean executives for an offshore oil  leak. Authorities accused the executives of environmental crimes, misleading Brazil’s oil regulator about safety plans and failing to provide accurate information after the November spill. In the incident, at least 110,000 gallons of oil seeped through cracks on the ocean floor near a Chevron Corp. appraisal well that was drilled by Transocean off the Brazilian coast.  Executives could face up to 31 years in prison but a judge first will decide if the controversial case will go to trial. A Chevron spokesman called the charges “outrageous and without merit.” The Associated Press

National supermarket chains drop “pink slime.” Safeway, Food Lion and Supervalu said they would stop selling ground beef that contains the filler, consisting of meat scraps, widely called pink slime. Federal regulators say the product, known in the industry as “lean, finely textured beef,” meets safety standards. But critics say it could be unsafe and is an unappetizing example of industrialized food production. The low-cost additive, which has been used for years, is made from fatty bits of leftover meat that are heated, spun to remove the fat, compressed into blocks and exposed to ammonia to kill bacteria. Producers often mix the filler into fattier meat. The Associated Press

Three Democratic lawmakers say drug distributors are setting up fake pharmacies to exploit drug shortages. The lawmakers — Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Sens. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Tom Harkin of Iowa — are investigating pharmacies that, they say, appear to have sold drugs in short supply to drug wholesalers instead of dispensing them to patients. The wholesalers allegedly then sold the medicines at sharp markups. “It appears that some of these individuals essentially established fake pharmacies to obtain drugs that are in critically short supply and are desperately needed to treat patients with cancer and others diseases,”  Cummings said. The Wall Street Journal

California safety regulators accuse recycling and composting company of 16 violations after deaths of two workers. The charges by Cal/OSHA against the  Lamont, Calif., operation of Community Recycling & Resource Recovery stemmed from the October deaths of two brothers, ages 16 and 22. They were overcome after being exposed to poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas while cleaning an underground storm drain system. OSHA said the company failed to provide workers with proper training, failed to test for dangerous levels of gas and did not have effective rescue procedures. The agency is seeking fines of $166,890. Los Angeles Times, The Bakersfield Californian, Cal/OSHA

Japanese company pulls soil fumigant from the U.S. market. The withdrawal of the fumigant, methyl iodide, surprised growers and environmentalists who have warned that it poses serious hazards. Although U.S. regulators approved the pesticide in 2007, it became a focus of fierce debate in California, where it was intended for the lucrative strawberry crop, before gaining state approval in December 2010. Some scientists said methyl iodide can cause cancer, brain damage and miscarriages among workers who handle it, and can be a threat to ground water. It never came into wide use in the U.S. The withdrawal was announced by the manufacturer, Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times

Commercial beekeepers and environmental groups ask U.S. regulators to ban insecticide. The petitioners seek to halt the use of clothianidin and other neonicotinoids, chemicals that act on the central nervous system of insects. Beekeepers and some scientists say the chemicals could contribute to colony collapse disorder, in which the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly disappear or die. The disorder has decimated hives in the U.S. and overseas. Bees pollinate about a third of U.S. crops. In response to calls for the ban, federal authorities are reevaluating the pesticides. France, Germany and Italy have limited or banned the use of neonicotinoids. The Associated Press

Recalls: Safety 1st Push ‘N Snap cabinet locks, Westinghouse ceiling fans, Easton Sports lacrosse helmets, Leggett & Platt adjustable bases for mattressesSouthside Market & BBQ sausage

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

Print Print  

Leave a comment