Cleanup of Texas chemical plant hamstrung by new fire, spill
HOUSTON | The efforts to clean up a Texas industrial plant that burned for several days this week were hamstrung Friday by a briefly reignited fire and a breach that led to chemicals spilling into the nearby Houston Ship Channel.
The Texas attorney general also filed a lawsuit against Intercontinental Terminals Company, which operates the petrochemical tank farm east of Houston. Attorney General Ken Paxton said Texas had to hold the company “accountable for the damage it has done to our environment.”
“ITC has a history of environmental violations, and this latest incident is especially disturbing and frightening,” Paxton said in a statement. “No company can be allowed to disrupt lives and put public health and safety at risk.”
An ITC spokeswoman said the company would not comment on pending litigation.
While the new fire was extinguished about an hour after it began Friday afternoon, the spillage of chemicals led the U.S. Coast Guard to close part of the ship channel, a critical commercial waterway that connects oil refineries between the Port of Houston and the Gulf of Mexico.
Judge says New York’s stun gun ban is unconstitutional
ALBANY, N.Y. | New York state’s ban on personal ownership of stun guns is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Friday in the latest in a series of court decisions that have led to the loosening of restrictions on the weapons in several states.
The decision came in a lawsuit filed by Matthew Avitabile, of Schoharie County, New York, who said he wanted to buy a stun gun for self-defense in his rural upstate home.
His lawyers argued that New York’s longstanding ban on civilian ownership of stun guns violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms. U.S. District Judge David Hurd agreed.
“New York’s sweeping prohibition on the possession and use of tasers and stun guns by all citizens for all purposes, even for self-defense in one’s own home, must be declared unconstitutional,” Hurd wrote in his decision.
The lawsuit named the superintendent of the state police, the agency that enforces New York’s weapons laws. New York attorney general’s office, which defends the state in lawsuits, referred questions to state police or Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. Cuomo adviser Richard Azzopardi said that state lawyers are reviewing the decision and that the governor is reserving comment.
Flight attendant detained by immigration on return to U.S.
A flight attendant who arrived in the U.S. as a child flew to Mexico for work and was stopped by immigration authorities who forced her to spend more than a month in detention, her attorney said.
Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, who was enrolled in a government program for so-called dreamers, was released Friday from a detention center in Conroe, Texas, according to a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Originally from Peru and married to an American citizen, she raised concerns with Mesa Airlines about her immigration status after being assigned to an international flight, attorney Belinda Arroyo said.
The airline assured her she would be fine, but she was stopped by U.S. authorities on Feb. 12, when she returned to Houston, and was sent to detention, where she remained for more than five weeks, Arroyo said.
Soon after her lawyer, her husband, the airline and a flight attendants’ association publicly demanded her release, Saavedra Roman called to tell her husband she was getting out.
“She was crying and she said, ‘Please come get me,’” her husband, David Watkins, told reporters.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency was looking into her status. Earlier, the agency said Saavedra Roman did not have a valid document to enter the country and was being detained while going through immigration court proceedings.
Death toll rises to 62 in China chemical plant blast
BEIJING | A massive explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China with a long record of safety violations has killed at least 62 people and injured hundreds of others, 90 of them seriously.
The death toll appeared likely to rise still further, with another 28 people still listed as missing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday. Just 26 of those confirmed dead in Thursday’s explosion have been identified so far, it said.
The blast in an industrial park in the city of Yancheng, north of Shanghai, was one of China’s worst industrial accidents in recent years. State-run television showed crushed cars, blown-out windows and workers leaving the factory with bloodied heads.
—From AP reports