Wednesday Briefing

Operators of 20 aging U.S. nuclear reactors have not saved money for dismantling. If the reactors — including some whose licenses expire soon — are forced to shut, the operators intend to let them sit like industrial relics for 20 to 60 years or longer. Mothballing the plants makes hundreds of acres of prime industrial land unavailable for decades and leaves open the possibility that radioactive contamination could spread. In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has vowed to force the two operating reactors at Indian Point, 35 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, to shut when their licenses expire in 2013 and 2015. But the operator, Entergy, is at least $500 million short of the estimated dismantling cost. The New York Times

Retailers return to Bangladesh garment factory where 29 people died in a fire last year. The workers who died were making clothes for such major U.S. retailers as Gap and Kohl’s, along with the Tommy Hilfiger brand. Shortly before the airing of an ABC News report about continuing dangerous conditions at factories in Bangladesh, PVH, which produces the Hilfiger line, pledged to spend more than $1 million to enforce safety reforms demanded by labor rights groups. The labor advocates say  dangerous conditions such as locked gates and shoddy wiring persist in Bangladesh, where nearly 500 workers have died in garment factory fires over the past five years. ABC News

Tobacco use killed nearly 6 million people last year and was the top cause of death in China, report says. The assessment released today by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation found that four of every five of the deaths were in low- and middle-income countries, and 1 billion people may die from tobacco use and exposure this century if current trends continue. Tobacco-related deaths almost tripled in the past decade amid a 17 percent jump in cigarette production and increased affordability of the cancer-causing products in low-income nations. Separately, the head of the World Health Organization urged China Tuesday to bolster its controls on tobacco. Bloomberg, The Associated Press

Illinois metal forging company accused of eight workplace safety violations after an accident that cut off a worker’s thumb. The charges lodged against Kishwaukee Forge Co. of Cortland, Ill., by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration include two willful violations, the agency’s most severe offense. OSHA said a worker at the plant lost his thumb in September when a forging machine was accidentally triggered because a foot pedal lacked proper safety guards. OSHA has proposed $75,200 in fines against the company. OSHA

Regulations issued to improve labels on hazardous chemicals. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that the changes will prevent more than 40 deaths and about 500 workplace injuries and illnesses from exposure to hazardous chemicals every year. The agency said the new labels will be easier to understand and less confusing, especially for low-literacy workers. The new regulations also square with international guidelines developed by the United Nations, so chemical manufacturers no longer will have to produce two sets of labels and records. Companies will have to fully comply with the regulations, known as the Hazard Communication Standard, by June 2016. The Associated Press, OSHA

New policy would require companies to report new uses of five groups of potentially harmful chemicals. The policy proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is intended to give the government time to evaluate whether it should bar or restrict the uses of the chemicals. It would apply to chemicals that have been used in consumer products and industrial applications, including paints, textile dyes, inks, flame retardants and plasticizers. The five affected groups of chemicals are PBDEs, benzidine dyes, short chain chlorinated paraffin, HBCD and a phthalate known as DnPP.  Environment News Service, EPA

Environmentalists fear election-year politics will delay decisions on new regulations. As the presidential election contest heats up, gasoline prices rise and the summer driving season approaches, it has become politically problematic for the Obama administration to move on many regulations, especially with energy emerging as a hot topic in the campaigns. Already lagging are anticipated regulations covering petroleum refineries, coal ash, particulate matter, sulfur in gasoline and greenhouse gas emissions from cars and power plants. Politico

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

Print Print  

Leave a comment