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Duke Energy begins coal-ash dredging in Dan River

dan river cleanupWith the clatter of heavy machinery, the cleanup of the ash-laden Dan River will begin in earnest this week.

The biggest ash deposit yet found in the Dan, following a Feb. 2 spill 25 miles upriver at Duke Energy's Dan River power plant, lies on the bottom just above Danville's water intake.

The ash covers an area about 300 yards long and 25 yards wide. It is up to 1 foot deep. Its removal from the river will be far harder than its release into it from a broken metal pipe.

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Western Antarctic ice sheet collapse has already begun, scientists warn

antarctic ice sheet The collapse of the western Antarctic ice sheet is inevitable and is already underway, scientists said on Monday.

The melt will cause up to four metres (13 feet) of additional sea-level rise over the coming centuries, devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world – from Bangladesh to New Jersey – that are already expected to be swamped by only a few feet of sea-level rise.

But the researchers said the sea-level rise – while unstoppable – was still several centuries off, potentially up to 1,000 years away.

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Texas Panhandle wildfire torches 75 homes, as drought conditions persist

aatexas wildfireA  devastating wildfire in a small Texas Panhandle community has consumed at least 75 homes and displaced 700 people.

The blaze, which began about 4 p.m. local time Sunday afternoon, continues to threaten 1,000 homes.

Officials have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, which has swept across1,500 acres and drawn firefighters from 26 counties as far as 165 miles away. The Texas A&M Forest Service has employed a spotter plane and air tankers to douse the blaze from the air.

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EPA weighs rule requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals

fracking chemicalsThe Environmental Protection Agency is taking the first steps toward regulations that could require companies to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” operations.

The EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rule-making Friday in response to a petition filed in 2011 by the environmental group Earthjustice and more than 100 other green organizations pressing for mandatory testing and reporting rules.

The groups have raised concerns over various chemicals used during the fracking process, which involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground in order to fracture rock and unlock trapped oil and gas.

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Fed Govt Failed To Inspect Higher Risk Oil Wells

oil well drillingThe government has failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental damage, congressional investigators say.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, highlights substantial gaps in oversight by the agency that manages oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands.

Investigators said weak control by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management resulted from policies based on outdated science and from incomplete monitoring data.

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Pesticides to blame for honeybee colony collapse disorder, not mites

Honeybee disappearancesThough parasitic mites continue to infect and kill honeybees, a new study suggests they are not to blame for colony collapse disorder (CCD), the phenomenon blamed for rapidly depleting the world's honeybee population -- pesticides are.

Harvard researchers, working with beekeepers in Massachusetts, kept tabs on 18 bee colonies, six hives in three different locations -- from October 2012 to April 2013. Half the colonies were treated with a non-lethal dose of two neonicotinoid pesticides.

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Oil spill reported in St. Maarten; source unknown

St. Maarten oil spillhe St. Maarten Nature Foundation responded to reports of a significant oil spill in the Simpson Bay area in the vicinity of Gourmet Marché stretching towards the Simpson Bay Causeway on Friday. Foundation staff responded by taking a vessel out to investigate.

Once on scene, the situation was assessed and the environmental impacts of the spill on the marine environment determined. Initial assessment found that a large quantity of diesel was released into the Simpson Bay Lagoon from an unknown source. There was no activity observed regarding oil entering the water from industrial or shipping sources within the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

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