Nation Digest

Friday, August 28, 2009


Utility Is Sued Over Pollution

The Justice Department and the state of Illinois filed a lawsuit Thursday charging the Midwest Generation utility company with violating the Clean Air Act through the operation of six coal-burning power plants in the state, including two aging plants in urban Chicago.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges the plants illegally emit "massive" amounts of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter and that the company failed to install modern pollution controls required when older plants make significant modifications.

Chicago politicians and advocacy groups have demanded for years that the plants close or install pollution controls. Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she is "very concerned about the negative health effects" of the aging plants.

The suit was filed as part of an initiative targeting utilities whose coal-fired plants violate the law.

-- Kari Lydersen

Controller Faulted in Hudson River Collision: Federal safety officials say an air traffic controller should have warned the pilot of a small plane that collided with a helicopter over the Hudson River that there were other aircraft in his path. The accident near New York City this month killed nine people. The National Transportation Safety Board said in a letter released Thursday that if the controller at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey had been following procedures he would have warned the pilot of the other traffic in his path. The controller was talking on the phone to a friend at the time of the crash.

Another Try at Shuttle Launch: NASA will try to launch the space shuttle Discovery on a mission to the international space station late Friday night, after delays caused by bad weather and fuel valve trouble. It will be the third try for NASA, which is still struggling to understand why a critical fuel valve appeared to malfunction Tuesday midway through the fueling process. The valve was tested Wednesday night, and all indications were that it was a problem with a sensor.

Kidnap Victim Surfaces 18 Years Later: A woman who was snatched from a bus stop as an 11-year-old child in 1991 recently turned up at a California police station after 18 mysterious years, and a convicted sex offender and his wife were arrested Wednesday in her kidnapping. Jaycee Lee Dugard was reunited with her mother, who was overjoyed to learn that the daughter she feared dead was alive and well. It was not immediately clear how Dugard spent the 18 years since she was abducted outside her South Lake Tahoe home.

Students Jump to Safety in School Bus Hijacking: A shirtless man leaped through the window of an Atlanta school bus with about a dozen students aboard Thursday, overpowered the driver to take the wheel, then left the bus driverless as it careened down a steep hill, authorities said. As the bus plunged, screaming students bounded out of the emergency exit in the back, a school official said. The bus left the roadway and finally stopped at a wall. Two students and the bus driver were injured, but not seriously, police said. By the time 23-year-old suspect Arris Pitmon was arrested, he was naked, police said. A witness said the man lost his pants while trying to escape from bystanders.

-- From News Services

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