Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A BMW stolen in New Jersey collided with a Corvette on a SoHo street in a crash that took down a light pole and shattered the front window of an art gallery.

Police: Driver flees after chase, crash into Corvette, SoHo art gallery

SOHO, Manhattan (WABC) -- A BMW stolen in New Jersey collided with a Corvette on a SoHo street in a crash that took down a light pole and shattered the front window of an art gallery.

The white BMW X5 crashed into the white Corvette at Broome and Greene streets just after 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Police said the BMW then took down a traffic light, and debris from the crash shattered the front door of the Eden Fine Art Gallery on Broome Street.

"Kind of crazy," gallery director Amos Frajand said. "I immediately thought, kind of lucky this pole is here. Because otherwise it would have driven right through that, which would have been bad news."

Ten years ago, a similar scene played out at Eden's second gallery in Midtown.

"Some drunk driver also drove into a pole next to the gallery," Frajand said. "Seems to be a reoccurring theme with our business."

The driver of the stolen BMW jumped out and fled on foot, according to authorities. He is currently being sought.

The 28-year-old driver of the Corvette was taken to Bellevue Hospital with minor injuries.

According to police, the BMW was stolen earlier in Berkeley Heights and was spotted around 1:50 a.m. by a New Jersey State trooper speeding in the eastbound local lanes of Interstate 78 in Newark.

The trooper attempted to pull over the vehicle, not knowing at that point that it was reported stolen.

The vehicle was followed to the Holland Tunnel, where the trooper broke off the pursuit.

Minutes later, the BMW crashed in SoHo.

Anyone with information is urged to contact police.

A Nevada woman died in September after being infected with a drug-resistant bacterium, Klebsiella pneumonaiae, that was resistant to all antibiotics available in the U.S.

Deadly Superbug Infection Was Resistant to All FDA-Approved Antibiotics

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 01:17PM

The rise of drug-resistant bacterial superbugs has been a concern of public health officials for years, and now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a worse-case scenario: a woman with a bacterial infection that was resistant to all FDA-approved treatments.

A Nevada woman died in September after being infected with a drug-resistant bacterium, Klebsiella pneumonaiae, that was resistant to all antibiotics available in the U.S., the CDC reported on Friday.

The woman was in her 70s when she arrived at a hospital in August 2016 with signs of sepsis. She had been in India years before and had been treated for a broken leg and bone infection, according to the CDC. After doing tests, her doctors found the bacteria - which belong to a class of drug-resistant bugs called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) - were resistant to all forms of FDA-approved antibiotics. The patient died in September after going into septic shock, according to the CDC.

The woman's extremely rare infection has focused attention on the increasing problems surrounding these drug-resistant infections and the lack of antibiotics available to treat them.

Fewer New Antibiotics Being Developed No matter how effective an antibiotic is at killing bacteria, new drugs will be needed as the bacteria mutate and grow more resistant to existing drugs.

"Antibiotic resistance occurs as part of a natural evolution process. It can be significantly slowed but not stopped," the CDC notes on its website. "New antibiotics will always be needed to keep up with resistant bacteria as well as new diagnostic tests to track the development of resistance."

However, the number of drug applications for novel antibiotics being developed by pharmaceutical companies have been dropping steadily over the last three decades, according to the CDC.

From 1980 to 1984, there were nearly 20 FDA drug applications approved for new antibiotics, but from 2005 to 2009, there were fewer than five applications approved, according to the CDC.

In 2013 the CDC said developing antibiotics and diagnostic tests was one of its four core actions to stop antibiotic-resistant infections from increasing.

CRE Infections Are an Urgent Threat In 2013 the CDC characterized CRE infections as an urgent threat, meaning the bacteria are an "immediate public health threat that requires urgent and aggressive action."

The bacteria cause 9,000 drug-resistant infections per year and 600 related deaths, according to the CDC.

While most CRE bacteria are still susceptible to one or more antibiotics, in the infection of the woman in her 70s reported by the CDC the bacteria were resistant to all FDA-approved antibiotics - an extremely rare case.

Common E. coli and Klebsiella bacteria are among CRE strains.

Doctors Can Attempt to Treat Even Drug-Resistant Infections When a patient has a drug-resistant bacterial infection, doctors sometimes have to use harsher antibiotics or high doses in order to fight the infection.

If a patient has a drug-resistant infection, doctors work with a lab to test different doses of various antibiotics in an effort to overwhelm and kill the bacteria, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

However, antibiotics can be taxing on patients, especially if they are older and have underlying medical conditions.

"This is the kind of calculation you do with every patient," Schaffner said. "Patients with underlying illnesses present a certain kind of challenge."

The CDC authors reported that an intravenous version of the antibiotic fosfomycin is available in other countries but is not approved for use in the U.S. It's unclear if the patient's doctors attempted to get an FDA exemption to use the drug and treat the patient.

Long Exposure to Antibiotics and Long Hospital Stays Can Be Dangerous While this recently reported case is frightening, it is also unusual. The patient had been in and out of hospitals in India for two years after fracturing a femur and developing a bone infection.

Long hospitals stays, especially in India, and exposure to different antibiotics can increase the likelihood of eventually developing a drug-resistant bacterial infection. As travel around the globe is becoming more common, it's increasingly important for doctors to find out where their patients may have acquired an infection, Schaffner said.

"India has a notorious reputation for this [type of bacterium,]" he said. "Travel-related questions are becoming much more important ... and just reinforce that we are a very small world."

EPA is moving swiftly to propose how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017.

EPA to Put in Place Process to Evaluate Chemicals That May Pose Risk; First Time in 40 Years
Contact Information:
Cathy Milbourn (news media only) (milbourn.cathy@epa.gov)

Environmental News


(Lenexa, Kan., Jan. 17, 2017) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving swiftly to propose how it will prioritize and evaluate chemicals, given that the final processes must be in place within the first year of the new law’s enactment, or before June 22, 2017.

“After 40 years, we can finally address chemicals currently in the marketplace,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Today’s action will set into motion a process to quickly evaluate chemicals and meet deadlines required under, and essential to, implementing the new law.”

When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, it grandfathered in thousands of unevaluated chemicals that were in commerce at the time. The old law failed to provide EPA with the tools to evaluate chemicals and to require companies to generate and provide data on chemicals they produced.

EPA is proposing three rules to help administer the new process. They are:

Inventory Rule. There are currently over 85,000 chemicals on EPA’s Inventory, and many of these are no longer actively produced. The rule will require manufacturers, including importers, to notify EPA and the public on the number of chemicals still being produced.

Prioritization Rule. This will establish how EPA will prioritize chemicals for evaluation. EPA will use a risk-based screening process and criteria to identify whether a particular chemical is either high or low priority. A chemical designated as high priority must undergo evaluation. Chemicals designated as low priority are not required to undergo evaluation.

Risk Evaluation Rule. This will establish how EPA will evaluate the risk of existing chemicals. The agency will identify steps for the risk evaluation process, including publishing the scope of the assessment. Chemical hazards and exposures will be assessed, along with characterizing and determining risks. This rule also outlines how the agency intends to seek public comment on chemical evaluations.

These three rules incorporate comments received from a series of public meetings held in August 2016.

If EPA identifies unreasonable risk in the evaluation, it is required to eliminate that risk through regulations. Under TSCA, the agency must have at least 20 ongoing risk evaluations by the end of 2019.

Comments on the proposed rules must be received 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. At that time, go to the dockets at www.regulations.gov and search for: HQ-OPPT-2016-0426 for the Inventory Rule; HQ-OPPT-2016-0636 for the Prioritization Rule; and HQ-OPPT-2016-0654 for the Risk Evaluation Rule.

Learn more about today’s proposals.

Pepco to pay a civil penalty of $1.6 million and implement numerous procedures to reduce pollution enetring the Anacostia River in D.C.

Contact Information:
David Sternberg (sternberg.david@epa.gov)

Contact: David Sternberg 215-814-5548 sternberg.david@epa.gov


WASHINGTON (January 13, 2017) – The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today a settlement with the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) for alleged violations of Pepco’s Clean Water Act permit at its service center located in Anacostia. Under the settlement, Pepco will implement a number of measures to reduce metals in stormwater entering into its drainage system and will install an in-pipe treatment system to further treat the stormwater, which discharges into the Anacostia River. Pepco also will pay a civil penalty of $1.6 million. Pepco also agreed to perform a mitigation project to eliminate stormwater discharges from another outfall at the facility, and will pay an additional stipulated penalty of $500,000 if it fails to put the project into operation.

The United States filed its complaint in October, 2015, in the US District Court for the District of Columbia and alleged violations of limits in the EPA Clean Water Act Permit for metals, including copper, zinc, iron, and nickel, and total suspended solids (TSS). The consent decree filed with the court today requires Pepco to put into place Best Management Practices or BMPs to prevent the metals and other pollutants from entering into Pepco’s stormwater drainage system, including booms and filters at each drain leading into the system, as well as enhanced inspections and other measures. In addition, Pepco will install in-pipe treatment systems in several areas to remove the metals from the stormwater in the drainage system until the permit limits are met. Pepco also will implement a mitigation project using vegetation and a holding pond to capture and treat stormwater that currently drains from the Benning Street facility into the Anacostia River.

At 8.7 miles, the Anacostia River is a major tributary of the Potomac River, which ultimately flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The Anacostia River is impaired for organics, heavy metals and sediment. EPA and its state partners, including the District of Columbia, have focused efforts on addressing pollution in the Anacostia River in the past decade, through Clean Water Act permits, judicial consent decrees, and other regulatory mechanisms.

“This agreement will aid the continuing recovery of the Anacostia River by cleaning up contaminated stormwater from this Pepco facility,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden. “This is part of the ongoing and substantial efforts by EPA and the Department of Justice to address sources of water pollution and bring great American rivers like the Anacostia back to health. I have personally kayaked the River and know its importance in our Washington, D.C. ecosystem.”

“Controlling stormwater runoff is essential to protecting and restoring our urban waterways” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This settlement underscores EPA’s commitment to continuing the progress that we and our partners have made along the Anacostia.”

The Pepco facility historically included a power plant that was shut down in 2012 and has been removed. The property is also the subject of an on-going study and clean-up of soil and other contamination being performed under a consent decree with the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment.

On March 28, 2016, the District Court granted the request of the Anacostia Riverkeeper, an environmental organization, to intervene in the lawsuit.

The consent decree was lodged in the District Court for the District of Columbia. Notice of the lodging will appear in the Federal Register. The Decree is subject to a public comment period of not less than 30 days before the consent decree can be entered by the court. The consent decree can be viewed at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent Decrees.html.

City of Tyler, Texas, to undertake operational improvements to its sanitary sewer system and pay $563,000 in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA)

City of Tyler, Texas, Agrees to Extensive Sewer System Upgrades and Operational Improvements to Comply with Clean Water Act
Contact Information:
Jennah Durant and Joe Hubbard (R6Press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (Jan. 17, 2017) Today the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the city of Tyler, Texas, agreed to significantly upgrade its sanitary sewer system to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The city will also undertake extensive operational improvements to its sanitary sewer system and pay a total of $563,000 in civil penalties.

DOJ, on behalf of the EPA, and the State of Texas, on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, jointly filed a complaint against the city of Tyler alleging that, since 2005, the city has allowed and continues to allow untreated sewage to overflow from the city’s sanitary sewer system in violation of the CWA and the Texas Water Code. The complaint alleges the city failed to properly operate and maintain its sewer system, resulting in problems including blockages in underground pipes, general system defects and power failures. These problems can impact public health and local water quality by allowing releases of untreated sewage into local waterways and the community. The complaint specifically alleges instances of raw sewage entering into both local waterways and into Tyler residents’ private homes and yards. Many of these sanitary sewer overflows occurred in low-income and minority communities.

“The people of Tyler have experienced sewer overflows for the past decade and deserve those conditions to come to an end,” said Acting United States Attorney Brit Featherston. “This agreement ensures that vital infrastructure, required for the very basic of our citizens’ needs, will be upgraded, and the degradation of the city of Tyler’s sewer system will be halted. The agreement’s key provisions will modernize Tyler’s sewer system, substantially reduce the number of sewer overflows and discharges to local waterways, and protect the environment and the health of the citizens of Tyler.”

“Providing clean, reliable water service is one of the most important responsibilities cities have to their residents,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Improvements to the city’s treatment of wastewater has direct benefit to citizens.”

To comply with the terms of the settlement and significantly reduce future sanitary sewer overflows, the city must comprehensively assess and improve its sewer system’s physical condition by repairing or replacing damaged assets within a certain time period after their discovery. The city must also analyze sewer system capacity using an updated hydraulic model and undertake a tailored program to implement detailed capacity management, operation and maintenance procedures. The city must keep the public directly informed of its progress when complying with the consent decree by creating a public document repository on the city’s website, where it is required to post any report required by the consent decree and all final EPA-approved plans. The city must also consider, among other things, the location of past sanitary sewer overflows in low income or minority communities when prioritizing the sequence for certain cleaning or remedial work. EPA estimates the combination of these mandated efforts will require the city to spend approximately $65 million over the next 10 years.

Tyler’s entire wastewater collection and treatment system includes 690 miles of main lines, 22 lift stations and over 9,000 manholes as part of its sanitary sewer system, which sends untreated wastewater to two wastewater treatment plants. Tyler’s system serves approximately 32,000 customers and 109,000 people.

Keeping raw sewage out of the community and the waters of the United States is a national priority for EPA, as sewage overflows can present a significant threat to human health and the environment. These discharges can degrade water quality, spread bacteria and viruses and cause diseases ranging from gastroenteritis to life-threatening conditions such as cholera and dysentery.

The settlement, which will be lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, is subject to a federal 30-day public comment period. The State of Texas also has a required 30-day public comment period. The proposed consent decree can be viewed online at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

More information about EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-enforcement-initiative-keeping-raw-sewage-and-contaminated-stormwater-out-our

More information about integrated municipal stormwater and wastewater plans: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/integrated-planning-municipal-stormwater-and-wastewater

3 utility workers with Douglas N. Higgins died in a wastewater trench after inhaling hydrogen sulfide and methane gas on Long Key Road in the Florida Keys

Three men descend to their death, overcome by poisonous gas under the ground

A woman comforts a man at the site of Monday’s tragedy in Key Largo during which three utility workers died in a wastewater trench. DAVID GOODHUE dgoodhue@keysreporter.com

By Charles Rabin and David Goodhue


An unimaginable tragedy struck in a small community of a few dozen homes on Long Key Road in the Florida Keys Monday morning, when three workers from a private contractor tasked with fixing a roadway climbed into a hole in the ground and, ultimately, to their deaths.

By the time a Key Largo firefighter climbed into the same hole near Lake Surprise in a desperate attempt to save the men, they were dead. And within seconds, the firefighter was also overcome by poisonous gas and was fighting for his life.

The hole, just wide enough to fit a body and about 15 feet deep, was filled with hydrogen sulfide and methane gas created from years of rotted vegetation. It was so poisonous, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said, that the firefighter was unconscious within seconds.

“Neighbors were complaining about a sewage backup,” Ramsay said. “So they went to investigate.”

Ramsay’s description of the tragedy was like a stack of dominoes cascading downward. The first man, the sheriff said, removed a manhole cover and went underground. Then silence. A second man climbed down in search of his coworker and he, too, lost consciousness. Desperate, a third man climbed into the same hole and was immediately overcome by fumes.

None of the four men wore masks or carried the vitally important air packs that likely would have saved their lives. Ramsay said his detectives and workers from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate the deadly incident.

The deceased victims are Elway Gray, 34, of Fort Lauderdale, Louis O’Keefe, 49, of Little Torch Key and Robert Wilson, 24, of Summerland Key, Herrin said. All three worked for a private Michigan-based roadwork contractor named Douglas N. Higgins. The name of the firefighter has not been released.

“We pulled the unresponsive firefighter out with the help of two sheriff’s deputies. He was nonresponsive. Not breathing. They used CPR and revived him,” Ramsay said. “I believe he’s in a coma.”

Firefighters were able to remove two of the men’s bodies. A third was removed later in the day with the help of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. Also taken to local hospitals were three Monroe County sheriff’s deputies who complained of dizziness. The neighborhood was ordered evacuated until determined safe.

“It’s been a very difficult day,” Ramsay said.

The Higgins employees, hired as sub-contractors by Monroe County, were looking into complaints from residents of backup in the sewage system. When checking the area on the Gulf side of U.S. 1, the workers found a slight dip in the ground near the manhole cover at the end of the street, said Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark.

Hydrogen sulfide can be especially dangerous if it accumulates at the bottom of poorly ventilated spaces. Ramsay said the hole showed no signs of having any ventilation.

Monroe County’s 911 dispatch got the emergency call about 8:30 a.m. Ramsay said the firefighter decided to enter the hole without his air pack because the hole was not wide enough to fit the man and his equipment.

Douglas N. Higgins is a private contractor with a Florida branch office in Naples, said Paul Christian, general manager of the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District.

In April, 2002, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection of a Higgins project in a Marco Island manhole resulted in a $2,500 fine that got settled for $1,875.

The citation said, among other violations, that atmospheric testing wasn't performed; a confined space entry program wasn’t implemented; confined space entry permits weren’t implemented by a qualified person; a rescue plan wasn't implemented; rescue services weren’t available in a timely manner; and rescue equipment wasn’t available at the site.

The company, which was founded in 1966 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has 17 projects in progress around Florida, three of them in the Keys. 

Worker killed when a heavy steel girder fell on him at Veritas Steel in Wausau, WI

Coroner: Worker killed Sunday at Veritas Steel in Wausau

By Robert Imrie, Content Manager

Posted: Jan 16, 2017 2:54 PM EST

WAUSAU, WI (WAOW) - A worker was killed at Veritas Steel late Sunday afternoon, Marathon County Medical Examiner Jessica Blahnik said Monday.

According to the Marathon County Sheriff's Department, the 38-year-old worker was fatally injured when a heavy steel girder fell on him. It was unclear what the worker, whose name was not released, was doing at the time, Lt. Ryan Weber said.

The accident happened about 4 p.m.

In a statement, Veritas CEO Henrik Jensen said the worker was killed in a "tragic accident," causing a "heart-wrenching" loss, but he did not elaborate.

"We will provide more information once the review by authorities and our internal review are completed," he said.

The U.S. Occupational and Health Administration regional office in Appleton did not immediately return a telephone message Monday.

An autopsy on the worker was planned Tuesday in Fond du Lac, Blahnik said.

Veritas Steel, located on Wausau's far west side, describes itself as a leader in the steel bridge fabrication industry with a broad range of experience in the manufacture of highly complex steel structures.

The Wausau plant sits on 22 acres of land, encompassing more than 150,000 square feet of factory space, including a painting facility, according to the company's web site.

Veritas also has plants in Eau Claire and Palatka, Fla.

A leader in bridge fabrication

As a leader in the bridge fabrication industry, we have extensive experience in fabricating complex bridge structures. Our state-of-the-art facilities and seasoned personnel offer the expertise and capacity to fabricate components for all types of bridge structures. Our roots stretch back over 100 years, and today, our team has grown to more than 500 hardworking individuals.

Worker died after falling about 40 feet while working at Rich Products in Crest Hill

CREST HILL, ILLINOIS– A Des Plaines man died Friday after falling about 40 feet while working at a job site in Crest Hill, according to the Will County Coroner's Office.

Brian Cummings, 60, was pronounced dead at 3:52 p.m. at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, according to the coroner's office.

The Crest Hill Police Department is investigating the incident.

Ed Clark, Crest Hill interim police chief, said Cummings worked as a subcontractor. Police were told he was on a large refrigerator unit inside Rich Products, 21511 Division St., Crest Hill, before he fell.

Clark said the death appears to be a tragic accident.

The company lists the Crest Hill location as a manufacturing facility on its website. Rich Products officials did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about Cummings' death.

Fernando V. Gamez, 42, of Sioux City, Iowa, also died after a fall at the location in August 2016, causing the Occupational Safety & Health Administration to open an investigation into Gamez's employer, Ortner Construction of Danbury, Iowa.

An autopsy Saturday revealed Cummings suffered multiple injuries due to the fall, according to the coroner's office. The final cause of death is pending police, autopsy and toxicology reports.