Business


In brief: Rates on fixed mortgages decline to four-month low

FRIDAY, NOV. 1, 2013

WASHINGTON – Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell for the second straight week and are at their lowest levels in four months.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan declined to 4.10 percent from 4.13 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan eased to 3.20 percent from 3.24 percent.

Rates have been falling since September when the Federal Reserve surprised investors by continuing to buy $85 billion a month in bonds. The purchases are intended to keep long-term interest rates low.

City’s bid to close odor-rich hot sauce plant denied

LOS ANGELES – A judge refused Thursday to order an immediate halt to production of the internationally popular hot sauce Sriracha at a Southern California factory that local residents say is stinking up their neighborhoods with pepper and garlic fumes.

In rejecting the city of Irwindale’s request for a temporary restraining order, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien indicated he wasn’t given enough time to consider the case.

“You’re asking for a very radical order on 24-hour notice,” O’Brien told attorney June Ailin, representing the city.

Instead, O’Brien scheduled a Nov. 22 hearing to consider issuing a preliminary injunction.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Irwindale said it had received “numerous” complaints from residents who say the smell coming from the Huy Fong Foods plant burns their eyes and throats and gives them headaches.

The odor lasts for about 3 1/2 months a year, during the California jalapeno pepper harvest season.

The company, which produces Sriracha and two other popular sauces, says it grinds up about 100 million pounds of the hottest California-grown hybrid jalapeno peppers it can find. The peppers are mixed with garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar, with the resulting fumes sucked through a filtration system and out through the roof.

During harvest season, as many as 40 big-rig trucks a day arrive at the 650,000-square-foot plant in Irwindale, a largely manufacturing town of about 1,400 residents.

City officials say complaints started arriving in September, soon after jalapeno harvest season began. Some people downwind have said the effect is like having a big plate of hot peppers shoved in your face.

The harvest season will end in about a week, meaning the smell should be gone by the Nov. 22 hearing – at least until next August.

Lightning may have caused pipeline rupture in wheat field

BISMARCK, N.D. – Federal regulators say a lightning strike may have caused a pipeline rupture that spilled more than 20,000 barrels of oil in a North Dakota wheat field.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said Thursday that a preliminary investigation “points to a strong electrical discharge as the cause of the failure.”

Agency spokesman Damon Hill said the exact final determination on cause hasn’t been made. He said that could take months.

The agency also issued a safety order Thursday that sets conditions for Tesoro Corp. to restart the pipeline.

The order requires the company to perform frequent aerial and ground inspections and install additional leak detection equipment.

A farmer discovered the spill in a wheat field in the northwest corner of the state in late September.


 

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