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Japan’s TEPCO admits further nuclear reactor meltdowns

TOKYO (AFP) – The operator of Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant on Tuesday said it believed fuel had partially melted inside three reactors, as long suspected by experts. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said new readings on water gauges indicated that the fuel had dropped to the bottom of…

Chesapeake Energy handed record fine for fracking in PA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pennsylvania regulators levied a record fine for contaminating drinking water against major natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy, a move that threatens to intensify a fierce debate over drilling for natural gas in the state. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fined Chesapeake $900,000 for contaminating water supplies inBradford County, a busy drilling…

Floodway opening a blessing for Louisiana refineries

KROTZ SPRINGS, Louisiana (Reuters) – The opening of a key spillway to relieve flooding along the Mississippi River could create logistical headaches for big Gulf Coast refiners, but will likely spare the lion’s share of the area’s refining capacity from flooding danger. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Saturday…

Mississippi River crests near record at Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Reuters) – The Mississippi River was cresting at Memphis on Tuesday just inches below the all-time record as the swollen wall of water moved south toward the Gulf of Mexico. The level of the largest river in North America may have reached its peak at 47.87 feet on…

Study finds methane in water near hydro-fracking

WASHINGTON — Methane leaks are contaminating drinking water near shale gas drilling sites in the northeastern United States, scientists said Tuesday, placing a further question mark over this fast-growing energy source. Scientists tested water samples taken from 68 private wells in five counties in Pennsylvania and New York to explore…

Worst Mississippi River flood in 70 years swallows homes, farms

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AFP) – The worst floods to hit the central United States in more than 70 years have swallowed up homes, farms and roads after the Mississippi River swelled to six times its normal width. Army engineers on Tuesday patrolled stressed levees in waterlogged Memphis, Tennessee, where the Mississippi…

Gaddafi’s time ‘is running out,’ NATO declares

MISRATA, Libya (AFP) – Time is running out for Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, even as the strongman’s forces laying siege to Misrata intensified their assault on the lifeline port. “The game is over for Kadhafi. He should realise sooner rather than later that there’s…

NASA’s Dawn probe closes in on giant asteroid

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Dawn space probe is closing in on its first target, the massive asteroid Vesta, almost four years after its journey began in September 2007, NASA said Tuesday. Dawn is on a long-haul mission to unlock the secrets of the solar system by studying the two largest…

Himalayan farmers’ early warnings on climate change proven true

PARIS (AFP) – Himalayan villagers have won the backing of climate science for their suspicions that snow cover, water resources and the ecosystem are changing in their region, a study published Wednesday said. The authors of the research carried out by Britain’s Royal Society say this is the first time…

Japan eyes sales tax rise to pay for post-quake rebuild

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese consumers may have to help foot the reconstruction bill after last month’s earthquake and tsunami caused $300 billion of damage, further burdening the hugely indebted economy, a newspaper said on Tuesday. It would be the first increase since 1997, though a sales tax hike had been…

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