Tuesday

Parents sue Chrysler over death of 4-year-old in Jeep Cherokee fire. In a state court lawsuit, a Bainbridge, Ga., couple blamed the automaker for their son’s death this March in a fire that erupted after the 1999 Jeep Cherokee in which he was riding was struck in the rear by another vehicle. The plaintiffs fault Chrysler for placing the fuel tank by the rear bumper of the car. “Automakers have known for at least 40 years — since the Pinto explosions — that putting gas tanks in the rear unprotected by the vehicle’s frame rails poses a grave danger,” said a lawyer for the couple. A Chrysler spokesman countered that the vehicle “meets or exceeds” federal standards. Separately, federal authorities last month expanded their investigation into Jeep fuel-tank fires after concluding that the vehicles are more fire-prone than other models. The Post-Searchlight (Bainbridge, Ga.)

Environmentalists sound alarm amid rush to mine metals beneath the oceans. Motivated by record prices for gold and other metals as well as predictions of future shortages, nations and companies are racing to lay claim to seabed deposits made accessible by advances in marine geology. But critics say seabed mining could harm fisheries, Pacific islanders and ecosystems, and are calling for more research into potential risks before mining begins. Potentially vulnerable are rich ecosystems around underwater hot springs called hydrothermal vents. These areas have extensive metals deposits but, according to a 2011 report, some also were found to host over 500 previously unknown species. The New York Times

Coal dust rules undercut by loopholes exploited by mining companies and weak enforcement. A 1969 federal law slashed the legal limit for exposure to coal dust to as little as one-quarter of the amount many coal miners had been breathing. But coal companies routinely deceived federal regulators by supplying regulators with bogus dust samples that played down miners’ exposure to the hazard. Meanwhile, although diagnoses of black lung disease initially plunged after the law took effect, the decline didn’t last. In the mid-1990s, medical experts began noticing an increase in diagnoses, along with disease in younger miners and a rapid progression to severe stages of sickness. NPR, The Center for Public Integrity

Steel fabricator in Maine faces up to $132,000 in workplace safety fines. Cives Steel Co. was accused of electrical, crushing, laceration and other hazards at its 150-employee plant in Augusta, Maine. The alleged offenses included a willful violation, the agency’s most serious charge, on a finding that Cives failed to provide maintenance employees with safety gear to protect themselves while performing diagnostic work on electrical equipment. “The sizable fines proposed in this case reflect the severity and recurring nature of a number of these hazards,” an OSHA official said. An agency spokeswoman said no injuries were caused by the cited violations but that the hazards posed a potentially fatal risk to workers. Kennebec Journal, OSHA

Workplace safety regulators cite recycling companies in Texas and Ohio. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration accused Electronic Recycling and Trading Co. of 14 violations in connection with a combustible dust explosion in January that severely burned two workers at a company site in Austin, Texas. The alleged violations included failing to provide suitable dust collection and fire suppression systems. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $60,060. Separately, OSHA accused Toxco Inc. of 14 violations at its  battery recycling plant in Lancaster, Ohio, including failing to protect workers from overexposure to lead and cadmium. Proposed penalties total $59,400. OSHA

Recalls: Carl Rittberger Sr. deli meats, iFlora dietary supplements

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein and Bridget Huber

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