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Wednesday
Oct242012

Salmonella Inside Major Peanut Distributor Causing More Recalls For Big Brand Products

The ongoing international peanut product recalls resulting from Salmonella found in the Portales, New Mexico peanut processing plant of Sunland Inc. has now reached 240 products from brands including: American Choice, Archer Farms, Arrowhead Mills, Cadia, Dogsbutter, Earth Balance, Harry & David, heinen’s, Joseph’s, Valencia, Natural Value, Open Nature, Peanut Power, Serious Food, Sprout’s, Sun Harvest, Sunland Natural, Trader Joe’s, and Tropical Traditions.

Image courtesy of flutnut.com.

Retailers that have been affected include Starbucks, and others, including: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroeger, Target, and Costco.

A wide number of people have reported becoming ill from the Salomella since the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention began tracking the outbreak late last month.

At the most recent count, the CDC says that 38 people have become ill with the outbreak strain Salmonella Bredeney across 20 states – Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

As of today, Oct.24, 2012, the CDC has broken down the demographics of the people who have gotten ill, finding the ages ranging from one to 79 years old, with 66 percent being children under 10 years old, and also 62 percent being male. So far 10 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported so far.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration explains that Salmonella is “an organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems.”

“Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis (an inflammation of the inside lining of the heart), and arthritis,” adds the FDA.

The FDA further explains that, “The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient requires hospitalization. Older adults, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have severe illnesses from Salmonella infections.”

The outbreak was first discovered from testing conducted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture laboratory that isolated the Salmonella strain from an open jar of Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter (sku 97111) from a case-patient’s home.

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Friday
Oct052012

Towns Across America Receiving Legal Support Against Fracking From Oil & Gas Companies

If you don’t know what fracking is, it means it’s not happening anywhere near you, but it might! Fracking is a highly controversial and toxic process of extracting natural gas and oil deposits from mining sites that were inaccessible only a few decades ago.

Image from The Watchers: Watching The World Evolve And Transform.

Fracking, also called hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking, is the process of forcing a mixture of freshwater and toxic chemicals under higher pressure into a well, enlarging the rock fracture and increasing the extraction rate of gas or oil.

Source Watch, a publication for The Center for Media and Democracy, explains that, “chemical additives many include hydrochloric acid (typically pumped before the job to clean up the formation), additional friction reducers, clay controls, weighting agents, and gel breakers.”

Source Watch adds that although no complete list exists of the chemicals used in the process, “information obtained from environmental clean-up sites demonstrates that known toxins are routinely being used, including hydrochloric acid, diesel fuel (which contains benzene, tuolene, and xylene) as well as formaldehyde, polyacrylimides, arsenic, and chromates.”

In June, the preservation group American Rivers reported that, “Injecting diesel underground is problematic because of the toxic chemicals it contains, especially the ‘BTEX’ compound. BTEX refers to benzene, tuolene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. These chemicals are linked to numerous adverse health effects including cancer, kidney and liver problems, and nervous system damage.”

“They are toxic at very low levels and are soluble in water, which is of particular concern when injecting them into the ground in proximity to underground sources of drinking water,” added American Rivers.

A few weeks ago, in an ongoing effort to address such problems, The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) announced the creation of its ‘Community Fracking Defense Project’ to provide legal and policy assistance to towns and local governments across the nation who are seeking to add controls or protections from fracking in their communities.

The new project will launch in five states – New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina – with projects varying from state-to-state based on differences in fracking activities and regulatory protections.

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Tuesday
Sep252012

NYC Transforms Old Radio Tower and Ferry Site To Beautiful Recreation Park and Wetlands

Abandoned and overgrown for over two decades, land on Brooklyn’s Greenpoint commercial waterfront that was once home to the WNYC radio transmission tower and a ferry terminal has now been redeveloped into a beautiful recreational park and restored wetland.

This pedestrian bridge in WNYC Transmitter Park was built across an excavated ferry site and restored wetland to increase park access to visitors. Rendering courtesy of the NYC Economic Development Corp.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg just cut the ribbon opening WNYC Transmitter Park in a ceremony that also provided a backdrop of the East River and views of the Manhattan skyline for guests as they listened to speeches from the mayor and other dignitaries including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and NYC Economic Development Corp. President Seth Pinsky.

In his opening speech to attendees, Bloomberg talked about the features of the new park, saying that it “includes a large open space lawn, a nautical-themed children’s play area, pedestrian paths, a restored wetland, and a waterfront esplanade (a long, open walk area next to the river).”

“By the end of this year, we’ll open the recreation pier, allowing visitors to walk out over the East River and see the park from the water. The pier will also provide even more incredible views of the Manhattan skyline, including One World Trade Center, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building,” continued Bloomberg.

WNYC Transmitter Park map rendering courtesy of the NYC Economic Development Corp.

“And future plans include transforming the old transmitter station into a café and public comfort station, making the park an even more attractive destination,” added the mayor.

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Saturday
Sep152012

California's Wildlife Conservation Board Approves $24.1 Million For Statewide Preservation Projects

The Swainson’s hawk. Photo courtesy of prairiewildlife.net.

California’s Wildlife Conservation Board has approved about $21.4 million that will fund 22 projects designed to restore and preserve fish and wildlife habitats across the state.

The funds for all of the projects will come from the recent bond initiatives approved by voters to help preserve the state’s numerous natural resources, according to the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Three of the most notable projects will involve land preservation agreements (technically called conservation easements) with the Conway Ranch in Yolo County, the Barboni Ranch in Marin County, the Kern River Corridor Endowment in Central Valley.

The tri-colored black bird. Photo courtesy of animal.discovery.com.

As part of the projects, the DFG has provided a grant of $7.8 million for a preservation agreement for about 6,224 acres of Conway Ranch land to protect habitats including wetlands, floodplains, and riverbanks. Preservation of these habitats has been designated as part of efforts to protect endangered species including: the Swainson’s hawk, tri-colored black bird, and giant garter snake.

As part of the Conway project, about 4,000 acres of land will have use restrictions placed on them, providing protections for aquatic and migratory birds, and allowing only “wildlife-friendly agricultural practices,” said the DFG, adding that all of the agreements will “allow for the continuation of agricultural uses, as long as those uses maintain the resource values” of the lands.

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Tuesday
Sep112012

IndyCar Race Engine Design Company Building New Facility On Former NYC Brownfield Site

Cleaning up its polluted brownfields is proving to be a commercial boom for New York City’s real estate market where space is always scarce and at a premium. The newest high profile business to take advantage of this cleanup is the IndyCar race engine design company ayton Performance.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Daniel Walsh, director of the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation, and Ethan Bregman, owner and engineer of ayton Performance announcing that ayton will open its new race engine design facility on a former brownfield site remediated under the New York City Brownfield Cleanup Program.

ayton will build its new facility in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn on Metropolitan Avenue. The property was left vacant for 27 years until last February when it was enrolled in the NYC Brownfield Cleanup Program.

The environmental cleanup is expected to be completed by the end of this month with development and construction to follow. The new facility is expected to open next summer, expanding ayton’s work in designing racecar engines, and consulting services for companies including Porsche, Honda, and General Motors.

Ethan Bregman, owner and engineer at ayton, announced at the press conference in front of the construction site that the “project has moved forward smoothly and our development has kept on schedule.”

Bregman praised the cleanup saying, “I’d recommend the brownfield cleanup program to anyone considering building on contaminated land in New York City.”

Once the cleanup is completed, the site will receive a New York City Green Property Certification. ayton then plans to hire eight new employees to fill positions including three high-tech permanent jobs.

ayton is an impressive company with its race engines having won several American and World Championships, including the 24 Heures du Mans in France, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and world GT2 titles with clients including GM, Porsche, and McLaren.

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