Jun 30, 2016

U.S. EPA webinar on recent legislative amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

​EPA is today posting an Implementation Plan that outlines the Agency's first-year plans to implement recent legislative amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) made by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The Implementation Plan along with additional information on the new Act can be found at:  https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/frank-r-lautenberg-chemical-safety-21st-century-act.
 

As a reminder, EPA will host a webinar on June 30, 2016, from 2:00 to 3:00 EST to provide an informational overview of the new amendments, tailored to those unfamiliar with the new provisions. Additional opportunities for stakeholder engagement are also planned in the coming weeks. To log in to the webinar, go to http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/overviewreform/ and sign in as a guest. For audio, please call 866-299-3188, and enter code 2025648098#.

What now for the future of nuclear in the UK?

Nuclear regulation and Euratom - will we leave this Treaty too?

Nuclear regulation is founded in International Conventions, nuclear community peer groups and policy. This is overseen by the inter-governmental International Atomic Energy Agency, part of the United Nations family. Our participation in this is unlikely to waiver.

That is probably not the case with the Euratom Treaty, signed in 1957 at the same time as the Treaty of Rome. This was intended both as a tenet of peaceful coexistence and to allow civil use of nuclear for the generation of electricity. The Euratom Treaty administration is integrated with the European Commission.

Pre-referendum indications were that the UK will exit all EU Treaties. Assuming the UK's tie-in through EU membership will come to an end, a new atomic co-operation treaty between the UK and the Euratom community will need to be agreed. An exit from Euratom will also trigger the need to join the queue to agree a Section 123 of the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1954 agreement as a prerequisite for nuclear deals between the US and the UK.

Read full at:

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=8171e36e-ae22-4a89-9da4-ad1b9a227048

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency Act of 2016

​H.R. 5390 would rename the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency. The bill also would consolidate certain missions of NPPD under two new divisions: the Cybersecurity Division and the Infrastructure Protection Division. Based on information from DHS, CBO has concluded that the bill would largely codify the department's existing plans to reorganize NPPD and would not impose any new operating requirements on the agency. On that basis, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 5390 would have no significant effect on the federal budget.

Jun 28, 2016

S. 2848, the $10.6 billion Water Resources Development Act of 2016

S. 2848 would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to construct projects to mitigate storm and hurricane damage, to improve navigation and flood management, and to assist state and local governments with safety programs for dams and levees. The bill also would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide grants and loans to state and local governments, public water systems, and nonprofit organizations to support a wide range of water quality projects and programs.

CBO estimates, that implementing this legislation would cost about $4.8 billion over the next five years and $10.6 billion over the 2017-2026 period, assuming appropriation of the authorized and necessary amounts.

Revised version:

https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/s2848revised.pdf

Landmark Amendments to Federal Chemical Safety Law Enacted

On June 22, 2016, President Obama signed H.R. 2576, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (the Lautenberg Act or the Act) into law. The legislation is the first comprehensive update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since Congress first enacted the law in 1976 and is expected to have far-reaching impacts on the U.S. industry.

 

TSCA is the federal law that gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to regulate a broadly defined class of chemicals. Because the Act requires EPA to evaluate chemicals currently used in commerce as well as new products, it significantly expands EPA's authority to regulate widely used industrial chemicals—including those that were grandfathered in by the 1976 law. Accordingly, any business that uses chemicals in its operation should brace for regulatory changes and supply chain impacts. As President Obama noted during the bill signing ceremony last week, "this is a big deal." 

 

The Act caps off a ten-year effort to reform the TSCA, which was widely considered to be outdated and ineffective. Implementation will occur over the course of several years and will involve numerous rulemaking efforts. Industries impacted should plan now to stay engaged and provide feedback to EPA on how the law should be applied. 

 

The legislation contains a number of key reforms that enhance EPA's regulatory powers and alter state authority to regulate chemical use. Listed below are several key areas to keep in mind.

 
Preemption of State Regulation
 

The Lautenberg Act grandfathers in existing state regulation of chemicals, but may limit future state efforts to regulate chemical manufacture and use. State laws and regulations which were in effect before April 2016 and that address a specific chemical will remain in force. Going forward, states will be permitted to restrict specific chemicals until EPA moves to define the scope of its risk evaluation, and then states would be precluded from regulating uses or exposures that are within the scope of EPA's review.

 
Risk Prioritization

Under the new law, EPA will be required to establish a process for evaluating and prioritizing chemicals for risk assessment within the next year.

 

One criticism of the original TSCA was that it grandfathered more than 62,000 chemicals into the regulatory framework, making it difficult for EPA to target these chemicals for additional safety measures. Now, EPA will be charged with prioritizing both new and existing chemicals for review and additional regulatory efforts. EPA's evaluation must consider the hazard and exposure potential for a chemical, including the chemical's environmental persistence and whether certain populations may be significantly exposed or are particularly vulnerable to exposure.

 

Please read full at:
http://www.michaelbest.com/pubs/pubDetailMB.aspx?xpST=PubDetail&pub=4342

Jun 23, 2016

H.R. 4979, Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act of 2016

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licenses and regulates the use of radioactive materials at civilian facilities, including nuclear reactors. Funding for that agency is provided in annual appropriation acts, and the agency is required to recover most of its funding through fees charged to licensees and applicants.

H.R. 4979 would direct the NRC to report to the Congress on existing federal activities related to testing and demonstrating advanced reactors with significant design improvements over existing commercial reactors.

Jun 22, 2016

OSHA Commences Small Business Review Panel to Review Proposed Changes to Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard

PAINT.ORG: On June 2, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) commenced the Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel to review its upcoming rulemaking to amend the Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard, 29 CFR 1910.119. The SBAR panel process is governed under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).

This 60-day process will involve a series of conference calls with designated small entity representatives (SERs) from small businesses across the country, including ACA member companies, that will comment on each of the proposals before a panel of OSHA, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) representatives. Following the panel teleconferences, SERs may submit written comments on each of the proposals to OSHA. Based on the input received from SERs, OSHA will be tasked with writing a SBAR panel report to be placed into the public docket, and the report will be considered as OSHA drafts a proposed rule to amend the PSM Standard at a later time. The panel's primary role is to report its findings on issues related to small entity impacts and significant alternatives that accomplish the agency's objectives while minimizing the impact on small entities for the Assistant Secretary of Labor. The report will contain recommendations for the Agency on its analysis and on possible approaches to regulatory action that may minimize impacts on small entities.

The PSM Standard amendments are part of an effort under President Obama's Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, which was charged with identifying issues to modernize the PSM standard to prevent major chemical accidents. The modernization topics OSHA is considering stem from industry best practices, inspection history, stakeholder comments received in response to OSHA's 2013 Request for Information and lessons learned from accidents involving highly hazardous chemicals. A number of these topics overlap with EPA's RMP proposed rule, including third party compliance audits, root cause analysis requirements, and safer alternatives analyses. These are issues of major concern to many industries because of the potential high costs, added administrative burden, and lack of commensurate benefits in safety. ACA provided comments to EPA in response to these issues in the RMP proposed rule.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently completed a similar SBAR panel regarding proposed changes to the Risk Management Plan (RMP) regulations — regulations that closely track the PSM Standard. OSHA and EPA are obligated to commence SBAR panels if they are considering regulations that can potentially have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The proposed changes to both PSM and RMP have been widely considered to be potentially significant and costly for chemical facilities, with little correlation to addressing significant risks of harm or improving chemical safety and security.

Proposed Schedule for SBAR Panel

Over the past several months, OSHA and SBA have been recruiting SERs to participate in this important panel process. To date, 32 SERs have volunteered to serve on the SBAR panel across many different industry sectors. SERs can participate if they qualify as a small business according to SBA standards, and have facilities regulated under the PSM Standard. Under the RFA, OSHA must complete its SBAR panel process within 60 days of commencing the panel, which initiated on June 2. SERs will be providing input before the SBAR panel of OSHA, SBA and OIRA representatives on June 21, June 22, June 28, and June 29 via conference calls. Written comments will be due July 8, and OSHA must finish the final SBAR report by August 1, when the panel concludes.

All of the background documents detailing OSHA's proposals and comments submitted throughout this process are public and will be posted on the docket. Unlike the EPA SBAR panel, any interested party may submit written comments, even those who are not participating on the panel, until August 12. However, OSHA is under no legal obligation to consider or respond to non-SER comments. The general public will have another opportunity to submit comments for consideration after OSHA writes and releases its proposed rule on PSM.

Proposed Changes to PSM Standard

The PSM Standard is a comprehensive management program for highly hazardous chemicals issued in 1992 in response to a number of incidents that occurred involving catastrophic chemical releases. The Standard is intended to reduce employee exposure to highly hazardous substances in the workplace, and covers the manufacturing of explosives and processes involving threshold quantities of flammable liquids and flammable gasses (10,000 pounds), as well as 137 listed highly hazardous chemicals. PSM is a performance-based standard that outlines safety programs features for controlling highly hazardous chemicals, and employers may tailor their safety programs to the unique conditions as their facilities. The rigorous requirements of the standard include employee participation, training, process hazard analysis, mechanical integrity, process safety information, contactors, operating procedures, emergency response, management of change, hot work permit, incident investigation, and auditing.

While about 10,524 facilities are covered under the existing PSM Standard, OSHA estimates 9,803 additional entities would be affected by these proposed changes—primarily from adding two oil and gas related North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industries into the scope of the rule. If all the potential changes under consideration are adopted into a revised PSM standard, the agency estimates the total numbers of affected entities to be 20,323 including those entities within the scope of the existing PSM standard and possible additions. These entities employ 1,824,140 employees. In addition to soliciting feedback on any similar provision of EPA's RMP rule and the PSM standard that could be streamlined, topics to be considered by the Small Business Panel include the following.

Read on at: http://www.paint.org/osha-commences-small-business-review-panel-review-proposed-changes-process-safety-management-psm-standard/

American Coatings Association (ACA) Letter to Explains Uses of Antimicrobials in Paints and Coatings

PAINT.ORG: On June 9, ACA sent a letter to Kaiser Permanente's National Facilities Services to provide industry perspective on Kaiser's "Prohibition of Antimicrobial Chemicals in Fabrics, Furniture and Finishes Bulletin," (Bulletin Number: 2015-05). ACA's letter focused on the various uses of antimicrobials in paint and coatings and expressed concern with any chemicals management approach based on a single attribute, such as hazard or effectiveness. ACA and industry are concerned that the scope of the bulletin (issued Oct. 15, 2015) as written, will bar Kaiser from specifying low-VOC (volatile organic compound), water based coatings. ACA proffered industry insight in order to develop a more workable policy so that Kaiser's ban on the listed substances will not keep innovative technology designed to protect against the spread of infectious disease out of the very healthcare facilities where they may be most useful.

In its independent letter to Kaiser (the association has also signed on to other interested parties' comment letters), ACA distinguished between the various uses of antimicrobials in the paint and coatings industry. Manufacturers use antimicrobial substances for a variety of reasons, for example, as in-can preservatives, and to protect the dry paint film in particularly humid climates. The antimicrobials used by the paint and coatings industry in these products are fully registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) as in-can preservatives. In fact, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency exempts in-can preservatives and antimicrobial claims made for the paint film from FIFRA under the "treated articles exemption."  Each of the preservatives listed in Kaiser's policy have been reviewed and determined as safe under FIFRA.

Recently, some manufactures have developed paints and coatings that claim full biocidal benefits and these products are fully registered as biocidal products under FIFRA. In order to register under FIFRA these products have undergone extensive testing, risk assessment and labeling requirements.

From the bulletin it is unclear if Kaiser is focused solely on "products and finishes" that claim to offer a biocidal benefit or if the use of antimicrobials as in-can or dry film preservatives could also be affected by the ban. However, after speaking with a Kaiser representative, ACA understands that banning the use of in-can preservatives was not the intention of the policy. ACA is requesting that Kaiser update the Bulletin to better define the narrower scope of the policy.

In its letter, ACA addressed concerns with the bulletin, including the statement that "products and finishes that do not contain these additives or treatments are increasingly available." ACA stressed that as manufacturers continue to innovate and produce more low-VOC coatings, the percentage of products using antimicrobial substances increases.

"Emulsion polymer binder systems are responsible for the drastic reduction in the use of organic solvents which are typically the source of VOCs from the paint and coatings industry," ACA explained. "Over the past three decades, industry has switched from traditional polymer systems that used organic solvents to emulsion polymer systems where the primary solvent in the formulation is water. This switch has allowed paint and coatings formulators to lower the concentration of VOCs in the final products, which has drastically decreased the potential impacts of paints and coatings on human health and the environment. Due to the increased concentration of water (which introduces microbial substances into the system), and the decreased concentration of organic solvents (which traditionally inhibited microbial growth) these and other products have become more prone to microbial contamination from bacteria, yeasts, and fungi."

Read full at: http://www.paint.org/aca-letter-kaiser-explains-uses-antimicrobials-paints-coatings/

President Obama Signs TSCA Reform Bill

​PAINT.ORG- President Obama has signed into law the negotiated, bipartisan Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform legislation — "The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act." The U.S Senate passed the bill on June 7 by unanimous consent. The bill passed the House of Representatives on May 24 with an almost unanimous vote of 403-12.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the nation's primary chemical law is being updated with broad support from industry, environmental groups, states, and consumers. The bill has also garnered strong support from both House and Senate leadership, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the White House. The final bill reflects a multi-year effort by Congress to balance the interest of a wide variety of stakeholders  to improve chemical safety and better regulate chemicals in commerce.

To view a copy of the final bill, click here.

ACA has supported the modernization of the TSCA statute, with the rationale that a strong federal chemicals management program is essential to avoid a patchwork of varied state chemicals management regulations. ACA believes a modernized, federal chemicals management program will not only improve the public's confidence in the safety of chemicals, but will also provide businesses with much-needed certainty and consistency in the marketplace.

ACA, as part of the American Alliance for Innovation (AAI) coalition, signed on to letters sent to both the House of Representatives and Senate urging final passage of TSCA legislation. The coalition letters, signed by 139 associations, stated that the bill, "creates a transparent, evidence-based, cohesive national program that will improve the regulation of chemicals used in commerce, provide more certainty and confidence in the regulatory framework, and have a significant impact on each of our industries, the products we make/or the services we provide, and the millions of workers we represent."

The bill creates a framework to reset the TSCA inventory, prioritizes chemical substances, makes it easier for EPA to obtain information on chemicals through testing, requires risk evaluations of high priority substances, creates a regulatory mechanism to address unreasonable risks identified, protects confidential business information (CBI), requires fees for certain TSCA activities, and contains a balanced approach to addressing federal preemption of state laws.

"The new TSCA legislation is a notable achievement and will provide much needed consistency and predictability in chemicals management regulations," said ACA President Andy Doyle. Read full at: http://www.paint.org/president-obama-signs-tsca-reform-bill/

​1 in 10 students homeless at Cal State (46,000 people) 1 in 5 without food (92,000)

About one in 10 of California State University's 460,000 students is homeless, and one in five doesn't have steady access to enough food,  according to the initial findings of a study  launched to  better understand and address an issue that remains largely undocumented at the nation's public universities.

"This is a gasp, when you think about it," Cal State Chancellor Timothy P. White said Monday at a conference in Long Beach, where more than 150 administrators, researchers, students and advocacy groups gathered to exchange ideas, case studies and their personal experiences with the issue.

Please read full at:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-cal-state-homelessness-20160620-snap-story.html

Jun 20, 2016

185 environmentalists killed in 2015, 60% increase from 2014

"Last year was the deadliest ever for the world's environmentalists," -The Washington Post
A report released Monday by the nonprofit watchdog group Global Witness claims that 2015 was the deadliest yet for people who sought to protect their land, forests and rivers from mining, logging and dams. The report, "On Dangerous Ground" called the 185 deaths it uncovered from news reports and public records "shocking," a nearly 60 percent increase from the previous year, "and the highest annual toll on record."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/06/20/last-year-was-the-deadliest-ever-for-the-worlds-environmental-activists/

S. 2848, Water Resources Development Act of 2016

​S. 2848 would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to construct projects to mitigate storm and hurricane damage, to improve navigation and flood management, and to assist state and local governments with safety programs for dams and levees. The bill also would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide grants and loans to state and local governments, public water systems, and nonprofit organizations to support a wide range of water quality projects and programs.

CBO estimates, that implementing this legislation would cost about $4.8 billion over the next five years and $10.6 billion over the 2017-2026 period, assuming appropriation of the authorized and necessary amounts.

https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/s2848.pdf

Jun 17, 2016

EPA Issues Guidance On Drinking Water Safety For Nuclear Disasters by @sarmje

The U.S. EPA has proposed new guidelines for restricting drinking water after a nuclear incident, partially a response to the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

The agency's Draft Protective Action Guide advises officials on how to react to "a nuclear meltdown or a dirty bomb, a weapon that combines conventional explosives such as dynamite with radioactive material," ThinkProgress reported. "During a radiological emergency, radioactive material could be released into the rivers, lakes, and streams used by public water suppliers."

The EPA guidance says "emergency responders should restrict the general population's consumption of drinking water after a radiological incident occurs if the water has a radionuclides concentration of at least 500 millirem projected dose in the first year," Bloomberg BNA reported.

"Anyone younger than 15, or pregnant or nursing should abide by a more-stringent 100 millirem projected dose in the first year until the incident is under control," the report said, citing the EPA's June 6 draft.

The draft won praise from water utilities who appreciated that the EPA action is a guidance rather than an additional regulation. Mike Keegan, an analyst for the National Rural Water Association, weighed in.

"When faced with contamination in the drinking water supply, local officials have to make immediate and difficult public welfare decisions," he told Bloomberg BNA. "Their options may be limited by lack of alternative sources of drinking water or no possible way to immediately treat the drinking water."

Some environmental advocates, however, said the guidance does not go far enough.


Wisconsin wolf population increases to record high

Wisconsin had a minimum of 866 to 897 gray wolves in 222 packs in the winter of 2015-'16, according to a report released Thursday by the Department of Natural Resources.

Jun 16, 2016

Nuclear emergency alerts through UAE mosques and SMS

The first of four reactors will go online early in 2017, regulators announced on Tuesday.

A breach would automatically trigger an emergency plan notifying UAE residents through mosque loudspeakers, mobile phone SMSs, media alerts, police advisories and road signs, reported Gulf News.

The plan was finalised by the UAE Federal Authority for Nuclear Radiation (FANR). Christer Viktorsson, director-general of FANR, said public transparency was a critical component of ensuring public safety, said the report.

"FANR nuclear safety regulations aim to reduce the risks of a nuclear incident or emergency to the maximum extent possible," Viktorsson said. "But it is still prudent to have systems in place to respond to an unlikely accident, so FANR requires users of nuclear materials in the UAE to prepare such measures.

"Those measures include establishing effective communications during an emergency, as such tools are critical to protecting the public and any workers responding to a nuclear event. For its part, FANR has developed internal communication procedures and has worked closely with key UAE agencies, such as the Ministry of Interior and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, to ensure the timely release of accurate information during an emergency."

Read full at:

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/nuclear-emergency-alerts-through-uae-mosques-sms-635407.html

San Antonio man has engine that gets 100 mpg | via khou.com

We've heard rumors for years about engines capable of getting 100 miles to a gallon of fuel, but the reality is much closer than you might think. Josh "Mac" MacDowell says he not only has the engine, he has come up with an idea, strong enough the U.S. patent office has given him a patent for it. MacDowell is using a Stirling engine, coupled with thermopile technology to make it possible to drive a Hybrid electric car and never have to stop to charge it.

The Stirling engine was actually invented 200 years ago, in 1816. The engine is driven by the exchange of hot and cold air, much like nature drives a thunderstorm. The Stirling engine is capable of using roughly 50% of the energy it produces. An internal combustion engine, like the ones in our vehicles, uses about 14%.

MacDowell's idea is so solid, Texas A & M University is completely behind him on the project. Dr. Mirley Balasubramanya, Professor & Dean College of Arts & Sciences, and Interim Chair of the Department of Sciences & Mathematics at A & M says when MacDowell showed him his theory and calculations he thought"this is a wonderful idea and why didn't someone else think of this. MacDowell says for the same reason the Wright brothers didn't book on Eastern Airlines…because someone had to do it first.

MacDowell obtained a Stirling engine from NASA. The space agency experimented with one in several vehicles during the late 70's & early 80's and got roughly 54 miles per gallon in a Dodge pickup. But gas At that time was about $1.00 a gallon, so there just wasn't a need or desire to pursue the project. Where MacDowell has hit the nail square on the head is with his patent for using it in a Hybrid electric vehicle.

Within 6 months, MacDowell says he will have the Stirling engine he has in a Ford F-150 and will get at least 58 miles per gallon. He also has redesigned the Stirling engine to look more like a small four cylinder engine. This will allow him to put the engine in a smaller SUV, with an electric powerplant and achieve at least 100 miles per gallon. MacDowell is so confident he can do that, he is planning on putting the hybrid set up in that SUV, then starting on the east coast and driving to California. He is confident he can make that trip on less than 40 gallons of fuel.

MacDowell says he will put his vehicle together and document everything, then send his findings to A&M's Texas Transportation Institute then will be verified by the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio to verify the results. He says his design will revolutionize the hybrid automotive industry and make the hybrid the dominant vehicle. "I imagine in 20 years the only place you will see an internal combustion engine is on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle cause people like the way they sound!", says MacDowell.  


Please continue reading from: 
http://www.khou.com/features/san-antonino-man-has-engine-that-gets-100-mpg/242673922
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Jun 15, 2016

​Pier 1 Imports faces $101K in fines at Wisconsin store after repeatedly endangering workers with blocked exits, stacked boxes

Pier 1 Imports' Glendale, Wis., location is the latest to receive OSHA citations after inspectors found blocked exit routes and boxes piled at dangerous heights. Inspectors also found stair and storage areas without railings, blocked electrical panels, and electrical boxes without covers. The home décor retailer has been cited for similar violations at several other locations nationwide. The Glendale store received eight violations and $101,420 in proposed fines.
More information is available in the news release.

"Social engineering seen as rising cyber threat to nuclear industry" via @nuclearenergy1

​Nuclear Energy Insider:
Social engineering seen as rising cyber threat to nuclear industry UK told to protect supply chain skills as new build delays bite Sweden to allow new nuclear plants; US utility fixes AP1000 build cost

 The growth of digital communications to improve collaboration and productivity in the workplace has seen a rising number of unauthorized incursions linked to employees, according to the U.K. Government's 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey, conducted by PWC.

Some 90% of large businesses, which included respondents from the energy sector, reported at least one attack last year and 75% reported a staff-related incident, up from 58% in 2014, the survey said.

Last year 15% of large U.K. organisations had a security or data breach involving smartphones or tablets, up from 7% in 2014. Some 13% of large organisations identified a data or security breach relating to social network sites, compared with 12% in 2014.

Source: U.K. Government's 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey

Modern attackers are turning to social engineering techniques that target personnel, which is quicker and easier than identifying and hacking software vulnerabilities, according to experts. Infected emails, social media platforms and online chat sites can all be used to track the whereabouts of personnel and elicit login and password information.

A password breach into the business area leaves personnel and customer data vulnerable to mining and infection with malware. This could present some risk to critical control areas as, although recommendations urge nuclear facilities to separate business systems from critical systems, personnel still need to transfer information and access different areas of the plant.

Emily Taylor, Associate Fellow International Security at Chatham House, said social engineering correlates personal digital footprints to other associated data to rapidly pinpoint individuals using just a handful of data points.

"By using Facebook "likes" alone, searches can predict gender, race, sexual orientation, as well as political and religious beliefs. Maybe there is a growing awareness that posting private and personal statements is not a good idea, but not about things like 'likes'. The metadata around this is tagged with a location by many applications," Taylor told Nuclear Energy Insider.​



Jun 10, 2016

S. 2943, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

S. 2943 would authorize appropriations totaling an estimated $603.9 billion for the military functions of the Department of Defense (DoD), for certain activities of the Department of Energy (DOE), and for other purposes. In addition, S. 2943 would prescribe personnel strengths for each active-duty and selected-reserve component of the U.S. armed forces. CBO estimates that appropriation of the authorized amounts would result in outlays of $587.8 billion over the 2017-2021 period.

Of the amount authorized for 2017, $544.1 billion—if appropriated—would count against that year's defense cap set in the Budget Control Act (BCA), as amended. Another $0.2 billion authorized for nondefense programs would count against the nondefense cap and an additional $58.9 billion authorized and designated for overseas contingency operations would not be constrained by caps.

Read here: https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/s2943.pdf

The French Government Has an App to Warn People About Terror Attacks and Nuclear Disasters

By Pierre Longeray

France is fielding almost 100,000 soldiers and police to protect the monthlong European soccer championship that begins on Friday, but in preparation for Euro 2016 the government has launched another, and thoroughly more modern, tool: a smartphone app to warn the public in case of an attack.

The Population Alert and Information System (SAIP in its French acronym) app will alert users "in the event of a suspected terror attack or exceptional circumstances [...] that could lead to an attack," the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement.

Speaking to officials from the Euro 2016 host cities back in March, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called on the government to "improve its public information [systems] during times of crisis."

The general public, he argued, should be able to access government alerts and instructions "without necessarily having to call the emergency hotlines," which are frequently overloaded during a terror attack. "On the night of November 13," the minister said, referring to the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 130 people last year, "the police prefecture [police headquarters] received 93,000 calls."

Source: https://news.vice.com/article/the-french-government-has-launched-an-app-to-warn-people-about-terror-attacks-and-nuclear-disasters

Jun 7, 2016

New antimicrobial material joins fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Last month, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance warned of a possible future in which emerging superbugs render current antibiotics ineffective, and called for more research into developing new drugs to help prevent that scenario. Thankfully, we've seen some promising developments in recent years and now scientists in Singapore have contributed to the effort with the creation of a new material that not only kills microbes quickly, but prevents antibiotic-resistant bacteria from growing in their place.

.. Continue Reading New antimicrobial material joins fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria 

Jun 6, 2016

New Ozone Standards, Kicked down the road...H.R. 4775, Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016

Summary
H.R. 4775 would delay the implementation of the final rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 related to ambient-air-quality standards for ozone emissions. That rule, published in the Federal Register on October 26, 2015, requires states to determine whether different geographical areas in the states are in compliance with federal limits on ozone pollution and to submit plans to reduce ozone emissions to EPA starting in 2020. The legislation would delay the requirement for states to submit those plans until 2026. The bill also would require EPA to make several changes to its process for reviewing National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and other pollutants. Notably, the bill would extend the review cycle for certain pollutants from 5 to 10 years and would allow EPA to consider technological feasibility when setting standards for safe levels of those pollutants. Based on information from EPA about ongoing workload requirements, CBO estimates that implementing these changes would not have a significant effect on EPA's spending.

Additionally, the bill would require EPA to conduct a study on the formation of atmospheric ozone and to submit a report to the Congress describing the extent to which foreign sources of air pollution affect the ability of states to comply with federal pollution limits under the Clean Air Act.

​H.R. 5050, Pipeline Safety Act of 2016

Cost Estimate of "H.R. 5050, Pipeline Safety Act of 2016" As ordered reported by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Summary
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees the safety of pipelines that transport natural gas or hazardous liquids and provides grants to states for programs to ensure pipeline safety. H.R. 5050 would require PHMSA to pursue a variety of regulatory and administrative activities related to such programs and would authorize appropriations for those purposes. The bill also would authorize PHMSA to establish safety standards for certain underground storage facilities for natural gas, assess fees on entities that operate such facilities, and spend such fees—subject to authority provided in advance in appropriation acts—to ensure that such facilities meet those standards.

View Document here:
https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/hr5050.pdf

Jun 3, 2016

H.R. 5273, Helping Hospitals Improve Patient Care Act of 2016

H.R. 5273 would modify Medicare payment rules for certain hospital outpatient departments and some hospital inpatient services, increase the number of beds for long-term care hospitals (LTCHs), extend a demonstration involving rural community hospitals, modify meaningful use standards for some physicians practicing in ambulatory surgical centers, and delay the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) authority to terminate certain Medicare Advantage (MA) contracts.

CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5273 would increase direct spending by $50 million over the 2017-2021 period but decrease direct spending by $14 million over the 2017-2026 period. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting the legislation would affect direct spending. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues. Read full here

Related Publications

May 31, 2016

Glyphosate herbicide found in 93% of human urine samples

Eco WatchGlyphosate, the most used herbicide in the world, has been found in the urine of 93 percent of the American public during a unique testing project that started in 2015.

Glyphosate, labeled a "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization's cancer agency IARC in 2015, has now been revealed to be ubiquitous ...

The European Union is currently in the process of putting restrictions on the use of glyphosate due to health concerns, with member states so far unable to agree on the re-approval of the chemical beyond June 2016.

Glyphosate-containing herbicides are sold under trademarks such as Monsanto's Roundup.

In a unique public testing project carried out by a laboratory at the University of California San Francisco, glyphosate was discovered in 93 percent of urine samples during the early phase of the testing in 2015.

The urine and water testing was organized by The Detox Project and commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association.

May 23, 2016

Expert EHS Webinar: New Rules Coming for Generators of Hazardous Waste in the US @jonathanbrun

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​Tue, May 24, 2016 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM CDT
Nimonik's regulatory analyst Sara Lipson will be giving an overview of the USEPA's proposed rule on hazardous waste generator improvements. These changes could affect as much as 550,000 entities that generate hazardous waste across the country, in all major industrial sectors.

This webinar will give you the information you need to understand
- How hazardous waste is regulated in the U.S.;
- What people who produce hazardous waste need to do with it; and
- What's going to happen to the hazardous waste generator rules.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7602540537931169283
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One of world's largest solar plants to be used to produce ... oil

A rendering of the 36 glass modules containing the solar-powered steam flooding system being built in ...

In a real case of strange bedfellows, one of the largest solar plants in the world is being built in Oman to boil water for use in oil production rather than to generate electricity. The plant, dubbed Miraah and created by Glasspoint for Petroleum Development Oman, will eventually produce the equivalent of 1 GW of power and will replace a less energy efficient natural gas method currently in use.

.. Continue Reading / Gizmag Emerging Technology Magazine

May 19, 2016

40% Of Detroit Will Be Deprived Of Life Sustaining Water

UN Investigates Human Rights Violations

The United States has no moral authority to speak of "human rights" as an American "value" when it systematically deprives Detroit's Black poor population of water. "The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has begun shutting off water to 3,000 people a week, and could soon cut off access to drinkable water for 150,000 Detroit residents." Meanwhile, the city has decided not to disconnect businesses – or even a corporate-owned graveyard.

"These latest tactics are designed to induce forced relocations, a component of ethniccleansing that is sometimes politely and inaccurately called gentrification."

Usually crimes against humanity take place behind closed doors, in concentration camps, Abu Ghraib-like torture settings or Nazi Germany; not so in 83% Black Detroit, Michigan.  In the next few weeks, the international community will witness with eyes wide open the city of Detroit's blatant violations of human rights.  These crimes will be condoned and executed by Detroit officials with the full knowledge of the White House.

Access to water is considered a human right and access to safe and clean water is a core mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, 40% of the residents of Detroit will be deprived of the basic element of life: water.  Children will go to school without baths and senior citizens will be deprived of water to take medicine. Having lost confidence in a US national commitment to saving the lives of citizens, advocacy groups have begun to petition the United Nations for an emergency response.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), has begun shutting off water to 3,000 people a week, and could soon cut off access to drinkable water for 150,000 Detroit residents who have failed to pay recent water bills.

Detroit was one of the cities hardest hit by international trade agreements, such as NAFTA. Detroit is also a city targeted for ethnic cleaning of its African population to make space for white professionals. Once a thriving middle-class city, the union movement was crushed by the government and business executives determined to drive wages down. At the end of the day, these latest tactics are designed to induce forced relocations, a component of ethnic cleansing that is sometimes politely and inaccurately called gentrification.

"Advocacy groups have begun to petition the United Nations for an emergency response."

The forced relocation tactics have changed over the years, with contemporary methods eerily resembling Nazi-like strategies, such as deliberately poisoning urban and domestic water supplies, depriving children and households of life-maintaining and sustaining water and a decent education. Black communities – already traumatized by the removal and imprisonment of nearly one million African men and the murder by police of thousands of unarmed young men and women – have become soft targets for these unrelenting attacks.

The United Nations' Human Rights council criticized the United States for police violence and racial discrimination, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility and the continued use of the death penalty. Member countries criticized the US and recommended that it strengthen legislation and expand training to "eliminate racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement."

"I'm not surprised that the world's eyes are focused on police issues in the U.S.," said Alba Morales, who investigates the U.S. criminal justice system at Human Rights Watch. "There is an international spotlight that's been shone [on the issues], in large part due to the events in Ferguson and the disproportionate police response to even peaceful protesters," she said.

The recommendations from the Council seem tepid and dismissive of the scale of the violence towards African-Americans.  These same atrocities occurring in any other country outside the US, such as Bosnia or Syria would cause an international uproar and calls to prevent deaths from water deprivation and to provide international protections for the targeted group. But, the US is the major donor to the UN and plays a leadership role on the UN Security Council, making it virtually impossible for nations that would show solidarity to African-Americans to act through this institution. Nevertheless, UN member states do have a bully-pulpit to expose the human rights violations occurring in the US.

"Black communities have become soft targets for these unrelenting attacks."

However, when one considers the war-like tactics deployed against an unarmed civilian population, such as, deliberate state-sponsored poisonings, murders of unarmed civilians, forced relocations and imprisonment, one is left asking what part of genocide does the UN not understand?

And the beat of genocide escalates.

The Detroit People's Water Board, Food and Water Watch, Blue Planet Project, and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization submitted a comprehensive report to the U.N.'s special rapporteur that details the dire situation facing the predominately Black population of Detroit:

"Sick people have been left without running water and working toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe, and parents cannot cook…"  "(F)amilies concerned about children being taken away by authorities due to lack of water and sanitation services in the home have been sending their children to live with relatives and friends, which has an impact on school attendance and related activities."

Activists claim the city has been unfairly overcharging Detroit residents for water to compensate for its significant financial woes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 38.1 percent of Detroit residents are living below the poverty line. Despite the tough times many people are facing, they've been paying an average of $64.99 a month, significantly higher than the national average of about $40, and rates are only going up. The Detroit City Council just approved a nearly 9 percent rate increase for water.

Three U.N. human rights experts issued a statement declaring that "disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.

"Despite the tough times many people are facing, they've been paying an average of $64.99 a month, significantly higher than the national average of about $40, and rates are only going up."

"When I conducted an official country mission to the U.S. in 2011, I encouraged the U.S. government to adopt a federal minimum standard on affordability for water and sanitation and a standard to provide protection against disconnections for vulnerable groups and people living in poverty," said Catarina de Albuquerque, who is the U.N.'s special rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation. "I also urged the government to ensure due process guarantees in relation to water disconnection."

One of the experts, Leilani Farha, who focuses on the right to adequate housing, also pointed out the racial implications of shutting off water to the nearly 83 percent black population. "If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African Americans, they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the U.S. has ratified," said Farha."

These calls for justice are falling on deaf ears. While President Obama concedes that the poisoning in Flint "was a man-made disaster; this was avoidable, this was preventable," the President did not deploy with all due haste the full power of the federal government to solve this situation.  In fact, he primed the Flint community, in which over 8,000 children are suspected of being lead poisoned to expect that it may take additional two years before lead pipes are replaced. But, he left Flint on a positive note, asserting that "filtered water in the city was safe for anyone over the age of six."

"If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African Americans, they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the U.S. has ratified."

But not everyone is feeling the pain of water deprivation in Detroit. That kind of pain seems to be reserved for families and communities. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has decided not to pull the plug on businesses in the city.  Although the city claims that it started sending out notices about the disconnections in March, the report's authors write that they heard "directly from people impacted by the water cutoffs who say they were given no warning and had no time to fill buckets, sinks, and tubs before losing access to water."

"We really don't want to shut off anyone's water, but it's really our duty to go after those who don't pay, because if they don't pay, then our other customers pay for them," department spokesperson Curtrise Garner told Al Jazeera America. "That's not fair to our other customers."

Businesses owe hundreds of thousands of dollars but a decision was made not to disconnect the corporate community:

"According to a department list, the top 40 commercial and industrial accounts have past-due accounts totaling $9.5 million. That list includes apartment complexes, the Chrysler Group, real estate agencies, a laundromat and even a cemetery."

The only people who apparently are in denial regarding the blatant, surgical and genocidal attacks against them are unfortunately the targets of the attack. Perhaps, Black folks are hoping that US genocidal policy towards our community will be confined to Flint and Detroit. How else can you explain the silence and inaction of black communities across the country?


May 18, 2016

​Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica — Pre-release — Final Rule

Pre-release — Final Rule
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Occupational Safety and Health Administration
29 CFR Parts 1910, 1915, and 1926 [Docket No. OSHA-2010-0034] RIN 1218-AB70 Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica Correction In rule document 2016-04800 appearing on pages 16285-16890 in the issue of March 25, 2016, make the following corrections: § 1910.1000 [Corrected] (1) On pages 16861-16862, in §1910.100, Table Z-3-Mineral Dusts is corrected to read as set forth below: TABLE Z-3–MINERAL DUSTS

This is a pre-release version of this Final Rule. It will be formally published on May 18, 2016 in the Federal Register.

Visit the Federal Register for much more information.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/18/C1-2016-04800/occupational-exposure-to-respirable-crystalline-silica

H.R. 1769, Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2016 veterans Protection Act

​H.R. 1769 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a national center to conduct research on health conditions affecting descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their service in the armed forces. The bill also would create an advisory board to oversee and provide support to the center. CBO estimates that implementing those provisions would cost $74 million over the 2017-2021 period, subject to appropriation of the necessary amounts. Another provision would require the Department of Defense (DoD) to review a potentially large number of records, with the goal of declassifying material related to the exposure of service members to toxic substances. CBO cannot provide an estimate of the cost of implementing that provision.


    


https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/hr1769.pdf

May 13, 2016

EPA Tools for Enhancing Community Resilience to Disasters. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

EPA Tools for Enhancing Community Resilience to Disasters. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, https://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_report.cfm?dirEntryId=311248

 

Purpose/Objective:

This inventory is intended to provide researchers and practitioners with information about available resiliency tools that they may distribute and use to help communities protect their resources and become more resilient to all-hazards. It also addresses further research needs and opportunities to continue advancing the science and practice of community resilience.


May 12, 2016

Decontamination Guidance for Chemical Incidents

A recently released HHS ASPR-sponsored study found that ninety-nine percent of chemical contamination can be removed by carefully removing clothes and wiping skin with a paper towel or dry wipe. The Primary Response Incident Scene Management (PRISM) guidance was written to provide authoritative, evidence-based guidance on mass casualty disrobe and decontamination during a chemical incident. It is comprised of three volumes: strategic guidance, tactical guidance, and operational guidance.

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ASPR's Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) has a number of additional resources specific to decontamination, including the Hospital Victim Decontamination and Pre-Hospital Victim Decontamination Topic Collections.

Wisconsin Attorney General Clarifies DNR's Authority over High-Capacity Wells

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad D. Schimel issued an opinion on May 10, 2016, that clarifies the role and authority of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR or Department) in the issuance of high-capacity well permits, bringing greater certainty to business owners that seek regulatory approvals from state agencies.

The Opinion concludes that WDNR cannot impose a condition on a high -capacity well approval (or any regulatory permit) other than those conditions explicitly allowed in statute and rule. As applied to high-capacity well approvals, the Department may not condition a high-capacity well permit on the installation of monitoring wells or upon conducting a cumulative impact analysis. While the opinion focuses on high-capacity well approvals, its major conclusion—that WDNR cannot impose conditions or draft rules for which it does not have explicit statutory or regulatory authority—may be applied to all regulatory approvals statewide; this is a significant development for regulated businesses in Wisconsin.

Read More

May 11, 2016

More than 2,000 New Plant Species Are Found Every Year

Yale Environment 360There are currently 391,000 plant species known to science—and another 2,000 are being discovered every year, according to a new report from the U.K.'s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

Last year's new discoveries included a nearly five-foot tall carnivorous plant first identified on Facebook, a 105-ton tree in West Africa, and 90 new species of Begonia flowers. Brazil, Australia, and China were hotspots for species discovery. The State of the World's Plants report did find, however, that one-fifth of the world's plant species are at risk of extinction from habitat loss, disease, invasive species, and climate change. "Plants are absolutely fundamental to humankind," Kathy Willis, director of science at Kew, told The Guardian. "Plants provide us with everything — food, fuel, medicines, timber, and they are incredibly important for our climate regulation. We are facing some devastating realities if we do not take stock and re-examine our priorities and efforts."