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Audit finds railroad safety lacking during high oil traffic

HELENA, Mont. — Montana’s oversight of railroad safety falls short at a time when volatile crude oil train traffic from the Bakken region, already high, is only expected to increase, a new audit found. Montana has no active rail safety plan and employs only two inspectors to cover the vast state, the Montana Legislative Audit Division report released Wednesday said. ...

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Railroad workers say long shifts unsafe

Some BNSF Railway employees are sounding the alarm about what they say are unsafe working conditions as a result of long shifts that could lead to extreme fatigue while hauling hazardous materials. According to one BNSF employee who contacted the Pilot, the company has imposed a new method of operation that has employees working 12-hour days, sometimes six to 10 ...

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Sentencing set in claim fraud case from Gulf oil spill

NEW ORLEANS — A man who pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a case arising from the BP Gulf of Mexico has been sentenced to two years in prison. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval handed down the sentence Wednesday for Casey Thonn of Slidell. In 2014, Thonn pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud. The case involved fraudulent claims ...

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Attorney, six others indicted in oil spill fraud case

gulf oil spill

GULFPORT — A Texas attorney and six others have been indicted on fraud charges involving BP money distributed after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The indictment, unsealed Thursday morning, lists as defendants Mikal C. Watts, principal partner in the law firm of Guerra and Craft Watts, and two of his employees. They are his brother, David Watts, and Wynter Lee. ...

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EPA wants to expand toxic chemicals database

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed requiring large oil and gas processing facilities to publicly report, to the federal Toxics Release Inventory, the names and amounts of the toxic chemicals they emit. It would be the first expansion in 20 years of the TRI, the online public database in which most other industries must list their pollution emissions, and, ...

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Oil seepage threatens Monahans Draw

Leaking oil from a lease atop the Monahans Draw raises worry of contamination of the waterway, and more than a year into the state-ordered cleanup effort the extent of the damage remains unclear. Oil was discovered seeping through soggy earth on July 16, 2014, at the oil lease in the 3200 block of Second Street, the western fringes of Odessa ...

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US mine fatalities down over first 9 months of 2015

ARLINGTON, Va. — Federal regulators say 25 fatalities have occurred in U.S. mines through the first nine months of this year, down from 33 deaths in the same period of 2014. The Mine Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday that seven fatalities occurred from July through September. Five of those deaths were in metal and nonmetal mines and two occurred ...

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Union rep says repairs made at county health department

PITTSBURGH — A union representative says officials have fixed unhealthy working conditions at the offices of a western Pennsylvania county health department. WPXI-TV reports that the Service Employees International Union representative John Listisen is pleased with fixes at the Allegheny County Health Department facilities in Pittsburgh. Three weeks ago, workers shared pictures with the TV station showing problems with mold ...

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Study shows more extensive coral damage related to BP spill

NEW ORLEANS — Gulf coral damage from the massive BP oil spill is more extensive than previously thought, according to a new study that revealed sick and dying corals in the rich, deep-water environment off the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi known as the Pinnacles. Using remotely operated submarines, researchers explored the Pinnacle Reef in September 2011 and found more ...

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