Local news

Judge won’t block nerve agent move

A federal judge Friday denied a request from environmentalists that he block truck shipments of more than a million gallons of nerve agent waste from western Indiana to an incinerator in Texas.

Environmental groups failed to make their case that the Army did not fully consider the risks involved in moving the neutralized VX nerve agent waste across some 900 miles of highways in the nation’s midsection, U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney wrote.

He also ruled the Army had considered the scientific evidence before concluding that the deadly VX stored at the Newport Chemical Depot would not re-form in a waste called hydrolysate, the byproduct of neutralization.

VX is a Cold War-era chemical weapon so dangerous a droplet can kill a human.

The Army contends the waste contains only a minuscule amount of VX – 20 parts per billion or less – and is no more dangerous than other hazardous wastes shipped each day across the nation.

The Chemical Weapons Working Group, the Sierra Club and other groups argued in the lawsuit filed in May that some batches of the waste produced by Newport’s ongoing VX neutralization project contain more residual VX and a toxic byproduct called EA2192 than the Army maintains.


Handmade vessel alarms police

An artist manning a replica Revolutionary War submersible caused a scare Friday after police found the strange-looking vessel foundering in a security zone near the docked Queen Mary 2, authorities said.

The handmade wood and fiberglass vessel, at the end of a tow rope tied to an inflatable boat, was spotted by police near the luxury ocean liner docked at the cruise ship terminal in the Buttermilk Channel, part of New York Harbor.

Police questioned the artist, Philip “Duke” Riley, and two other men, both from Rhode Island.

The makeshift sub “is the creative craft of three adventuresome individuals,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a news release. “It does not pose any terrorist threat. … We can best summarize today’s incident as marine mischief.”

One of the Rhode Island men claimed he was descendant of the inventor of the original one-man vessel that inspired the replica, police said.

The brown egg-shaped vessel was a replica of a submarine used during the American Revolution, Coast Guard Petty Officer Angelia Rorison said. The inflatable boat was towing the submarine, authorities said.


Hoof-and-mouth found in cattle

Cattle on a southern England farm have been infected with hoof-and-mouth disease, prompting a nationwide ban on shipping hooved livestock, British authorities said Friday. The last outbreak of the disease in Britain, in 2001, led to the slaughter of millions of animals.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown led a meeting of the government’s emergency committee Friday to discuss the development, a Brown spokeswoman said.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said animals on a farm near Guildford in Surrey had tested positive for the disease. It did not immediately say how many animals were affected. All cattle on the farm must be slaughtered, a department spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

From wire reports

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