Fears of explosions near natural gas pipelines grow in Appalachia

Since the beginning of 2018 there have been at least six pipeline blasts caused by landslides in Appalachia. The explosions are increasing in number just as companies are installing a new batch of pipelines across the region. The blasts have federal pipeline safety regulators worried and are instilling fear in residents that live in the path of the pipelines. “We have those same steep slopes,” Tina Smusz told E&E News, referring to an explosion along the Leach Xpress natural gas pipeline in Moundsville, W. Va that was triggered by a landslide. “I don’t know what they’re thinking. This is such a setup for ruptured pipelines.” The pipeline industry admits to the dangers of building pipelines in the mountains but maintains that they can build them safely. Regulators, however, have found that pipeline builders often take shortcuts, increasing the risk of conditions that can lead to pipeline explosions.

Carnival will pay $20 million because of its polluting cruise ships

Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise line, reached a settlement with federal prosecutors to pay $20 million because its ships have continued to pollute the ocean despite being convicted of a similar pollution charge previously. Carnival pled guilty to violating terms of probation stemming from a 2016 criminal conviction for discharging oily waste into the ocean and then covering it up. Carnival was fined $40 million and placed on probation for five years. In the years since the conviction, however, Carnival has admitted to dumping gray water in protected areas, such as Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and knowingly discarding plastic in areas where marine life is threatened. They also admitted to falsifying compliance documents, among other things. Some of the changes that Carnival has been ordered to make including additional audits to check for violations, improving the company’s compliance program, and improving their waste management practices.

A rare, all-white panda is spotted in China

An all-white panda has been photographed for the first time at a nature preserve in the Sichuan province of China. The albino animal lacks the usual black markings of a panda and has red eyes. The preserve said that the panda is 1-2 years old based on its size and appears to be physically strong, indicating that its albinism has not affected its health. This is the first time that albinism has been recorded in wild species of pandas. The condition is caused by a rare mutation in one or more genes that control the production of melanin, which pigments the skin. Animals suffering from albinism are often more sensitive to light and susceptible to skin cancer, eye problems, and predators.