U.S., Alaska End Exxon Valdez Legal Action
U.S. and Alaskan authorities have ended their efforts to seek additional damages from Exxon Mobil Corp over the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and the subsequent settlement, the Department of Justice said on Thursday. The department said in a statement that it is "bringing to a close the federal and state judicial actions" against the company and opting not to recover more damages under the reopener provision of the 1991 settlement following the spill. Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards said in the statement that although officials were not pursuing the additional damages…
U.S. East Coast Threatened by Hurricane Joaquin
Hurricane Joaquin was gaining strength on Thursday as it moved toward the Bahamas, with forecasts still inconclusive on whether the storm would slam into the U.S. East Coast or head out to sea without making landfall, the Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Joaquin, the third hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic season, intensified late Wednesday into a Category 3, on a scale of 1 to 5, with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kph). The storm was expected to gain strength and could become a Category 4 over the next day as it moves near or over portions of the Bahamas, the NHC said. Several models show the hurricane turning north, bringing it to the coast of the Carolinas or mid-Atlantic states on Friday or Saturday, the agency said.
Tropical Storm Erika Heads for Florida
Tropical Storm Erika lashed Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with heavy rain and fierce winds on Friday, moving across the Caribbean and apparently heading for the Dominican Republic, northern Haiti and eventually South Florida, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Due to some likely weakening over the Dominican Republic, Erika was no longer forecast to make U.S. landfall as a hurricane. It could still smack the Miami area with sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (97 kph) on Monday, however, before sweeping northward up the Florida peninsula, affecting Orlando's popular theme parks.
Shell Arctic Rig Departs Seattle Surrounded by Protesters
A Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling rig that will search for oil in the Arctic pulled out of its temporary base in Seattle on Monday for the trip north to Alaska as dozens of activists in kayaks tried to stop its movement, authorities said. Live television showed the rig being towed out of its terminal at the Port of Seattle with kayakers fanning out in an arc to try to prevent it from reaching shipping channels and heading out to the Puget Sound. Greenpeace USA said the kayaks had slowed the rig's progress and that 13 protesters had been detained by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard said the protesters would be fined for violating a safety zone around the vessel.
Protesters Attach to Shell Ship Bound for Alaska
Two activists strapped themselves on Friday to the anchor chain of a Shell Royal Dutch Shell vessel docked in Washington state that will be part of a fleet sent north to Alaska to resume drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic. The women used camping gear and hammocks to attach themselves to the massive chain on the barge in Bellingham, Washington, north of Seattle, the activist group ShellNo said. They attached themselves to the vessel, the American Trader, around 3:30 a.m., the group said. Both are students at Western Washington University, KIRO-TV reported. Bellingham police were not immediately available to comment on whether the pair would be arrested. Images from local media show the two swinging from the chain.
Seattle Protesters Seek to Block Access to Shell Arctic Rig
A group of protesters gathered at the Port of Seattle on Tuesday seeking to block workers attempting to reach a Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig that could depart this week to resume fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic. Over the past month, activists have staged demonstrations against the oil company's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic, including on May 16 when hundreds of protesters in kayaks and small boats fanned out on a Seattle bay. Several dozen protesters gathered early on Tuesday to block entrances to Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle where the rig is being outfitted for its trip north to the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. Shell did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the protest. There have been no arrests, Seattle police said.
Protesters Gather in Seattle to Block Access to Shell Oil Rig
About 200 protesters gathered at the Port of Seattle on Monday to block access to a Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig headed for the Arctic this summer to resume exploration for oil and gas reserves. Holding signs reading "Shell No" and "Seattle Loves the Arctic," protesters gathered early to prevent workers from reaching the rig, one of two that Shell will store in Seattle before sending to the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. Environmental groups have planned days of demonstrations over Shell's plans, saying drilling in the icy Arctic region, where weather changes rapidly, could lead to a catastrophic spill that would be next to impossible to clean up.
Seattle Area Could Use Old Aircraft Carriers as a Bridge
A Washington state lawmaker looking to ease traffic congestion for several Puget Sound-area communities near Seattle has proposed building an eye-catching new toll bridge made from retired Navy aircraft carriers. Republican Representative Jesse Young has been gathering support among colleagues and the public for the planned span, which would link Bremerton and Port Orchard on the Kitsap Peninsula, spokesman Kevin Shutty said on Friday. "It's a bottleneck area and for a number of years people have been looking for some solutions," Shutty said.
Japanese Tsunami Debris Still Washing on US Shore
Debris from Japan's 2011 tsunami will continue to litter the North American coastline over the next three years, with everything from refrigerators to lumber and sports balls still floating offshore in the Pacific, an expert said on Tuesday. About one million tons of debris was still lingering in the Pacific Ocean four years after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan, set off a series of massive tsunami waves that devastated a wide swathe of Honshu's Pacific coastline and killed nearly 20,000 people. It also damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, leading to a series of explosions and meltdowns in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years earlier.
Whale Carcass Washes Up Under Seattle Ferry Dock
A dead gray whale has floated underneath a busy commuter ferry terminal in downtown Seattle, sending a putrid odor wafting onto the dock and diverting some passenger ferries to another slip, a transportation official said on Thursday. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration planned to remove the carcass later in the day and perform tests to determine the cause of death, said Susan Harris, a spokeswoman with Washington State Ferries. The whale carcass, which Harris described as "a little bit smelly," was estimated at between 25 and 35 feet (7.6 and 10.6 meters) long and had apparently drifted in from open waters, lodging under the busy Colman Dock in Seattle.
Idaho Earthquake Causes Damage, Power Outages
A moderate earthquake rattled a broad swath of Idaho early Saturday, damaging property and causing power outages near its epicenter in the city of Challis, which has endured a string of temblors over the past weeks, authorities said. The quake was measured at a magnitude of 4.9 and was centered about four miles from Chaliss, in the central mountains, but was felt as far away as Boise, a 190-mile drive to the southwest, the U.S. Geological Survey said. (Reporting By Laura Zuckerman and Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Cruise Ship Returns to Texas after Ebola Concern
The Carnival Magic cruise ship was en route back to the United States on Saturday with a passenger from Texas who might have handled specimens of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States but is considered at low risk, a company spokeswoman said. The Dallas health care worker, who is said to have no symptoms and according to standards from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is at the end of the 21-day maximum incubation window for Ebola, had voluntarily gone into isolation along with a companion aboard the ship.
Cruise Ship Gets Stuck In Hudson River
A cruise ship returning to New York from the Caribbean with 4,500 passengers on board had to be towed into port on Sunday after getting stuck in the Hudson River, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The Norwegian Cruise Line ship was moored in the river for about three hours due to problems with its steering and propulsion systems as it moved toward its dock in Manhattan, a Coast Guard spokesman said. The Coast Guard was able to tug the vessel to port after the tide changed, the spokesman said. The ship, called the Norwegian Breakaway, docked at about 10 a.m.