On March 9, the medium range tanker Carla Maersk collided with the supramax bulk carrier Conti Peridot in the Houston Shipping Channel off Morgan's Point. While news sources report no injuries, the collision ruptured Carla Maersk's tanks, spilling thousands of barrels of the flammable chemical MTBE. The spill caused the shutdown of an 8-mile portion of the 50-mile waterway for nearly two days, and resulted in a "shelter-in-place" order for residents of Morgan's Point.
It turns out that people are most likely to have car accidents in rural areas. Outside the major population centers, Texas is a pretty rural state, so it's not surprising that a significant number of the country's deadliest locations are in the Lone Star State.
Monday, March 23, 2015 will mark 10 years since the horrific BP explosion in Texas City, which took the lives of 15 people and injured approximately 180 others. The BP explosion is to date one of the worst refinery explosions. The lives of those involved and their families may never be the same after this disaster.
Emotions run high when the subject turns to pets in general, and dogs in particular. A local paper in Houston is carrying a story about an incident in San Francisco in which a jogger's kick killed a dog.
In an effort to protect the country's water supply, the Obama administration released new federal regulations on Friday that will affect all hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") operations on federal lands. These are the first federal regulations related to hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is a process in which liquid is pumped into rock seams at a high pressure in order to gain access to oil and gas that are not reachable by more conventional methods. This method has increased the United States' production of oil and gas and led to a boom in the economy. However, there is a fear that this type of fracturing could cause contamination in the water supplies.
On June 30th of last year, Dennis Montgomery, a sanitation worker in Longview, Texas, was working his usual route down Alpine Road. While he was working, a car driven by Susan Skinner slammed into the rear of the garbage truck, pinning Montgomery between Ms. Skinner's car and the sanitation truck. Emergency rescuers from the Longview Fire Department were forced to use air bags and the Jaws of Life to rescue Mr. Montgomery from between the vehicles. Upon searching Ms. Skinner's vehicle, police found open cans of beer and a pipe used for smoking methamphetamine.
As oil prices decline, are producers cutting safety expenses? It may be too early to tell, but the death of three oil field workers last week in West Texas is troubling.
We already know that oil companies are paying less than they did a year ago. Contractors working in North Dakota's Bakken oil shale fields receive at least 20 percent less than they did a few months ago. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), some federal safety officials believe that more than wages are being cut. They point to the increase in oilfield accidents that began to happen around the same time that oil prices began to decline.
The director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Bismark office observed, "With the drop in oil prices, companies may be looking to protect the profit margin by hiring contractors that are not experienced," he said.
Over four years ago, Gregory Fleniken was found dead in his room at the MCM Elegante Hotel in Beaumont, Texas. For a while, police were baffled as to the cause of death and the curious circumstances garnered national attention. The coroner initially thought the cause of death was a heart attack. After considering additional evidence, the coroner concluded that he was somehow beaten to death. Only after extensive investigation by police and private investigators was it revealed that Mr. Fleniken was killed by a gunshot.
When someone is injured in an auto collision, getting healthy is the first priority. Also important, however, is repairing one's car, often the only way to get to the doctor, physical therapist, and work. Drivers frequently look to the collision coverage from their own insurance company, to whom they dutifully send a sizable check every month, to handle the repairs. After all, that's what they're paid to do. Yet as The Dallas Morning News reports, insurers often secretly short-change their customers and the repair shops who service the cars by insisting on so-called "after-market" parts, which are often inferior to what the car owners had before. (Terry Box, "Some area body shops fighting insurance companies over repairs," The Dallas Morning News, March 14, 2015, available here.)
McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, faced federal criminal charges that it sold infant's and children's liquid medicine containing metal particles. They pled guilty.