Wednesday

China Environmental Report Acknowledges Nuclear Safety Concerns

Report cites difficulties in managing safety of China’s fleet of nuclear reactors. The assessment, by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, acknowledged what nuclear experts have long argued: The variety of reactor models used in China complicates safety standards and emergency-response mechanisms. The report said the current safety situation “isn’t optimistic,” adding that “China has multiple types of nuclear reactors, multiple technologies and multiple standards of safety, which makes them hard to manage.” But the report also suggests China is moving closer to resuming the approvals process for reactor expansion, which was suspended after Japan’s Fukushima disaster last year. The Wall Street Journal

Poll shows soaring concern about food and drug safety in China. The Pew Research Center survey on attitudes in China found that 41 percent of the nation believes food safety is a major problem. That is up from 12 percent when the question previously was asked in 2008. During the last few years, China has suffered food contamination scandals involving products ranging from powdered milk to pork. Likewise, 33 percent this year said quality issues are a very big problem with manufactured goods, up from 13 percent in 2008. The poll by Washington-based Pew also found the Chinese to be increasingly worried about corruption and inequality, while becoming more fond of American ideas about democracy. The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal

Federal criminal investigators examine pharmacy tied to meningitis outbreak. The appearance of criminal investigators from the Food and Drug Administration at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., was the first public indication that the federal government is preparing a case against the company. Federal and state officials have said they believe that contaminated pain medicine from the compounding pharmacy caused the deaths of 16 people and sickened more than 200 others. Separately, the FDA said it is advising all health-care professionals to follow up with any patients who were given any injectable drug from, or produced by, the New England Compounding Center. The New York Times, HealthDay

Five environmental groups sue California, accusing regulators of ignoring fracking hazards. The state court suit is intended to force the California agency that oversees oil drilling to study the possible effects on groundwater and air quality before letting companies use hydraulic fracturing. According to the suit, the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources currently lets oil companies frack wells without  environmental impact reports, which are required for major construction projects. The suit comes as the controversial drilling practice of fracking, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to extract oil or natural gas, is becoming more common in California. San Francisco Chronicle

Settlement requires trucking company to reinstate driver. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Mark Alvis Inc. of Brush Creek, Tenn., illegally fired a driver who refused to haul a load because he was ill, fatigued and out of hours he could drive under federal rules. The settlement with OSHA requires Alvis to reinstate the driver and pay $30,000 in back wages. The driver was hurt when he slipped while inspecting his milk tanker in May 2010, before heading to a Kroger supermarket in Murfreesboro, Tenn. After finishing, he refused to take another load because he was ailing and out of driving hours. OSHA initially sought $180,000 in compensation, but the sum was reduced after Alvis appealed. OSHA, Land Line

 Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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