February 19, 2008 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: AAA seeks halt to street racing

The Spokesman-Review

Safety advocates urged law enforcers to crack down on illegal street races Monday as authorities identified two more victims of a weekend wreck that killed eight spectators.

Stepped-up enforcement and steeper penalties for racing-related violations are needed to combat the problem, which kills more than 100 people nationwide each year, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“We have known all along that this activity endangers the lives of unsuspecting motorists, pedestrians, and bystanders who find themselves in the path of daredevils and thrill seekers who turn city streets and country lanes into speedways,” AAA spokesman Mahlon G. Anderson said in a statement.

Authorities released the names Monday of the remaining two unidentified victims: Otis Williams, 35, of Indian Head, and Milton Pinkney, 41, of La Plata.


Refinery explosion leaves five injured

A thunderous explosion rocked an oil refinery Monday, injuring five people and shaking buildings miles away.

One employee was hospitalized for burns, while three contractors were treated and released, said Blake Lewis, a spokesman for refinery owner Alon USA.

A fifth person was injured when her car was struck by debris on Interstate 20, Big Spring Mayor Russ McEwen told the Odessa American. She was treated and released from a hospital.

Fires that lingered after the blast were extinguished late Monday afternoon, Lewis said.

Lewis said all workers were accounted for about an hour after the explosion.

Alon USA Vice President David Foster said he expected the refinery to be offline for weeks.

The blast sent black smoke billowing into the sky, and forced the closure of schools and the interstate.


Ground zero land ready for towers

The World Trade Center site’s owner turned over land where two office towers are planned to a developer, clearing the way for construction to begin soon on more skyscrapers at ground zero.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey finished excavating the land for the towers on Sunday, 48 days behind a deadline it set for itself in an agreement with Larry Silverstein. The agency paid $14.4 million in late fees to the developer. It said it partially made up for the cost by not paying the contractor a $10 million bonus it would have received for finishing on time.

The Port Authority worked for more than a year to build 80-foot-deep foundations for two towers that Silverstein will build, removing nearly 400,000 tons of concrete, soil and rock. Silverstein had said that construction would begin on the towers within weeks after the land was turned over.

Silverstein held the lease to the trade center complex when it was destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.

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