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Tuesday, Feb 07th

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The Dead Sea is dying. These beautiful, ominous photos show the impact

Dead Sea is dyingIt is an unparalleled wonder of the world: the lowest exposed spot on Earth, its therapeutic waters are so full of salt that bathers float right to the top. This natural spa is a source of rich minerals used by the ancient Egyptians for mummification, and fabled to be the biblical site of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But today the Dead Sea is dying, and its banks are collapsing. The water level is dropping close to 4 feet every year. The main part of the lake is now around 950 feet deep — about 15% shallower, and a third of the surface area, compared to its shape half a century ago.

"You've seen a living disaster in front of your eyes," says Jake Ben Zaken, an Israeli who says he operates the only passenger boats on the Dead Sea.

As the lake recedes, it changes the landscape around it in both beautiful and ominous ways. Exquisite salt formations are revealed where the water dries up. But there are also apocalyptic scenes of condemned beaches and parking lots swallowed up by sinkholes along the shore.

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Heavy snow, flash flood watches hit California as central US prepares for tornado threats

winter stormA large winter storm is forecast to bring heavy snow and dangerous travel conditions to the West this weekend before barreling toward the central U.S.

As the storm heads toward the Plains, it may trigger severe thunderstorms and possibly a tornado outbreak in the country's midsection next week, while blizzard conditions may continue on the storm's cold sides to the north and west, according to AccuWeather.

"You name it, this storm will bring it in terms of wild weather next week," said AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno.

Winter storm warnings were issued Saturday across much of the West, including parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, northern California and Nevada.

Meanwhile, millions in Southern California were bracing for a weekend of rain, high winds or snow at higher elevations.

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EPA proposes to close ‘loophole’ for reporting ‘forever chemical’ releases

Forever Chemicals loophole

The EPA said Monday that it is proposing to close a prior “loophole” that allowed some companies to get out of reporting their releases of certain kinds of toxic chemicals.

The agency said it was proposing to end stipulations that let companies get out of disclosing how much PFAS — per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancers and other illnesses — they were dumping.

Under current regulations, implemented under the administration of former President Trump, companies did not have to disclose the presence of PFAS if they only made up a small concentration of an overall discharge.

The EPA said that fewer companies than expected reported PFAS releases in 2021 and 2022, and noted that some of them cited this concentration threshold, which the agency is now proposing to remove.

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Coterra Energy to pay $16.29 mln for Pennsylvania water contamination plea

Coterra Energy to pay $16.29million U.S. shale producer Coterra Energy (CTRA.N) pleaded no contest for contaminating well water in Dimock, Pennsylvania, and will pay $16.29 million to construct a new means of water supply to its residents, the state attorney general said on Tuesday.

The Houston-based company, formerly known as Cabot Oil and Gas, will also make 75 years of water bills payments for the impacted residents, who were exposed to drinking water polluted with metals and high levels of methane.

"Under this historic settlement, Coterra will now pay to build a new public water line that will provide clean, reliable drinking water for generations to come," said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

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World's largest active volcano, Mauna Loa, erupts in Hawaii; moves to northeast rift zone

Mauna Loa erupts

Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world, has begun to erupt in Hawaii, the U.S. Geological Survey and other authorities said.

The eruption started late Sunday at about 11:30 p.m. HST in Moku‘āweoweo, the summit caldera of Mauna Loa in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, according to a USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory alert. The observatory said it was working closely with emergency management partners.

The eruption had remained confined to the summit caldera early Monday, but USGS Volcanoes and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency later reported some overflowing on the southwest portion. Shortly before 12:20 p.m. EST (7:20 a.m. HST) USGS Volcanoes announced the volcano's eruption had moved to the northeast rift zone, with lava flows heading downslope to the north.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the lava flows are not threatening any nearby communities downhill at this time. Still, volcanic gas, fine ash and Pele's Hair, thin strands of volcanic glass, could "be carried downwind."

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It’s a colorless, toxic gas. A US woman won $363m after years of exposure

Susan Kamuda

For more than 30 years, Susan Kamuda lived with her family several hundred yards away from an unassuming brick building situated in a small office park.

Kamuda’s son, Brian, remembers riding his bike past the building on his way through the neighborhood; he later taught a girlfriend to drive in the nearby parking lot.

Neither Kamuda nor the surrounding community knew that the building housed a company that was spewing a colorless gas into the skies above Willowbrook, a middle-class, suburban enclave south-west of Chicago. A company called Sterigenics used the gas, ethylene oxide (EtO), to sterilize medical devices and other products.

Susan Kamuda, now 70, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, despite having no history of the disease in her family. Last year, Brian, 49, learned the debilitating pain he had been suffering in his back and hips – pain he assumed came from kidney stones – was instead stage four non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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'On the order of historic': Heavy snow expected to keep pounding western New York

Heavy snow continues in western NYS

W​inter weather advisories were posted in areas including western Upper Michigan parts of western New York.

Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed about 70 members of the National Guard to help with snow removal in some of the hardest-hit areas.

The lake-effect snow, which was caused by cold air picking up moisture from warmer lakes, created narrow bands of windblown snow that dumped feet of snow in some communities, while leaving towns a short drive away relatively untouched.

B​uffalo is one of the snowiest larger cities in America – about 95 inches of snow is measured in the city each year on average, according to weather.com.

In November 2014, the city was hammered with a blockbuster lake-effect snowstorm that dumped 7 feet of snow on some communities over three days, collapsing roofs and trapping motorists in more than 100 vehicles along the New York State Thruway.

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