SafetyNet 311, February 26, 2015
Renata is back, and so here's the latest journal. If you have any comments or suggestions for items, please send them in to Renata firstname.lastname@example.org and thank you to those who have sent emails. Also: please (please!) follow us on Twitter @OHSreps
Victoria: man killed at Fitzroy construction site
WorkSafe Victoria is investigating the death of a worker at a Fitzroy North building site on Friday morning. WorkSafe understands the man, in his 40s, was working alone on a renovation project at a home in Holden Street. It is believed the man fell from part of the construction. The man was found just after 11am. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Source: WorkSafe Media Release
Meanwhile, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has issued an incident alert after a worker sustained fatal head injuries when he was crushed between the vertical mast of a forklift and a tank at a workplace in Bohle last Friday. The regulator said it was investigating the incident, and warned organisation to consider the effectiveness of their safety management systems in preventing such an incident occurring at the workplace.
March 4 – National Day of Action: fight for rights, penalty rates and working conditions
Unions and labour councils around Australia are organising a rally in capital cities and regional centres on March 4 to fight for rights and working conditions which have been fought for and won by workers. This includes the right to a safe and healthy working environment.
Read more: ACTU Media Release
Union seeking toxic chemical inquiry
Last year the Australian Workers Union (AWU) called for an inquiry into the health impact of chemicals on former Victorian Crown Lands Department employees. A number of these workers have gone to the union and say their health has suffered after being exposed to toxic chemicals like cyanide and Agent Orange, which were used to kill off weeds and animals from 1965 to 1995. While the previous State government had ignored the union's request, Victoria's new Environment Minister Lisa Neville this week announced an independent inquiry to clarify what went on and who was responsible. Ben Davis, from the AWU, said however the scope of the inquiry was too narrow. "I think there are issues beyond Lands as well. Each of the predecessor organisations ... the forests and parks areas, in particular, had the same sorts of practices, so I think the inquiry's a little narrow," he said. "We've had complaints of more stories coming from all points of the compass in Victoria."
Read more: AWU demands inquiry into health impact of weed chemicals on ex-Lands Dept workers and Lands Department toxic chemical inquiry: Australian Workers Union demands Victoria-wide probe
ABC News online
I'm HSR rep for about 40 staff, with 2 supervisors. Recently a "clique" has formed with one of the supervisors and a handful of staff who then receive preferential treatment. This has been affecting the morale of the rest of the employees. Is this bullying?
No, not really – bullying is defined in the WorkSafe guidance material as follows:
Workplace bullying is characterised by persistent and repeated negative behaviour directed at an employee that creates a risk to health and safety.
Under previous guidance there was more information, including a list of behaviours that could be characterised as bullying - see this page on bullying on the website: Bullying – what is it
In your example there are some workers being favoured over others (you don't say in what ways, but perhaps things like being given overtime, or allocation of tasks). This in turn has resulted in an unfair and inequitable situation which, while not bullying, should still be addressed because, as you say, it is leading to poor morale. This is a negative for the organisation and not something an employer should either ignore or tacitly approve.
What you might consider doing is making a request with the management person with OHS responsibility (make sure it's someone senior to the supervisors) under Section 73 of the Act (see: Resolution of issues). Build a case with examples of the favourable (and unfair treatment) and make sure you make the link between this and poor morale. Under the OHS Act the employer has a duty of care to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health (which specifically includes psychological health). Poor morale can lead to stress and also – from a non-OHS perspective – lower productivity. There should be clear rules and procedures in place to ensure fairness and equitable treatment of all staff.
Please send any OHS related queries in to 'Ask Renata' your query will be responded to as quickly as we can – usually within a couple of days.
ANMF member survey on penalty rates still open
It's not too late for nurses and midwives to send in their views on penalty rates if they haven't done so already, as the ANMF survey closes on 1 March. The union wants to know: Would you continue to work shift work if penalty rates were removed or lowered? What parts of your life are affected working shifts, on weekends and public holidays? Would you be prepared to take action to protect your penalty rates?
The ANMF says; "If you are one of the thousands of members who has already filled in the survey, please share it with a nurse, midwife or assistant in nursing you know who might be interested in taking action."
Victoria: Legislation to ensure asbestos claims heard quickly introduced
The Wrongs Amendment (Asbestos Related Claims) Bill 2015 (Vic) proposes to amend the Wrongs Act 1958 No. 6420 (Vic). The bill was introduced into parliament on 23 December 2014 and received its second reading speech on 11 February 2015. The objective of the bill is to ensure that claimants with asbestos-related conditions can bring their claims for compensation expeditiously. Ms Vicki Hamilton, CEO of Gippsland based Asbestos Council of Victoria, said, "It was a very good outcome for asbestos sufferers with support from all." Mr David Clement, President of Asbestoswise, agreed, saying "This is a good example of support groups and legal firms being vigilant and taking action on behalf of people living with asbestos related diseases (ARD) now and also those who will contract ARD in the future."
The Bill and Second Reading Speech can be accessed here (click on the Wrongs Amendment) and the Hansard extract [pdf]
Asbestos containing goods pouring into Australia
Although asbestos has been banned in Australia since (only) 2003, there are well-justified concerns that it is still entering the country – through Chinese imports as border-security officials admit to a limited capacity to stop contaminated goods entering Australia. The Australian this week reported that the Abbott government has conceded it is unable to guarantee Chinese imports are free of asbestos, and there is mounting evidence of its use in the car, mining and building industries, with unscrupulous importers and exporters failing to guarantee the safety of goods. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has said it "is not able to guarantee that all imported goods will be free of asbestos. Importers are responsible for ensuring the goods they import are free from asbestos and must declare this on import documentation.'' Unions are alarmed at the potential harm to consumers and workers, with examples of asbestos recently found in cheap plasterboard from China, gaskets, trains, mining equipment and other vehicles.
Source: Made in China (with asbestos) The Australian
NSW: On the spot fines for asbestos safety breaches
As of February 13, WorkCover NSW safety inspectors have new powers to issue on the spot fines to any individual or business undertaking unlicensed asbestos removal work. The fines, which range from $720 for individuals to $3,600 for businesses, are designed to prevent unlicensed removalists putting workers' and the community's lives in danger.
Executive Director of WorkCover's Work Health and Safety Division, Peter Dunphy said with many Australians expected to be affected by asbestos-related disease in the coming decades, WorkCover was doing everything it could to prevent workers and residents being exposed to the deadly fibres. "Any business or individual that commissions the removal of asbestos must ensure the work is done by a removalist who is appropriately licensed by WorkCover NSW,' said Mr Dunphy. "…we have strengthened asbestos safety laws, giving WorkCover NSW inspectors the power to issue penalty notices which include on the spot fines to individuals and businesses that engage unlicensed asbestos removalists or fail to notify WorkCover of licensed asbestos removal work. These new powers will ensure licensed asbestos work in NSW is carried out safely and that the risk of exposure to workers and other people is minimised."
Read more: WorkCover NSW Media Release On the spot fines for safety breaches
Want to know about Asbestos laws and more – go to the Asbestos section on the site.
WA: Two workers' legs crushed at WA wharf
Two men were seriously injured during an incident on board a ship at Port Hedland. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the crew members from the Happy Buccaneer were injured by a "load spreader" just before midday on Monday. The vessel, registered in the Netherlands, was moored at the Roy Hill South West Creek Wharf. Two AMSA inspectors are investigating.
Maritime Union of Australia's North West organiser Kyle McGinn said union representatives had been briefed on the incident. "As far as I'm aware, there's been a serious incident onboard a foreign-manned vessel that was alongside the Roy Hill wharf," he said. "This is again another foreign labour incident in the Pilbara. There have multiple incidents over the last 12 months involving foreign seafarers." He added, "Hopefully these men are covered under the ITF [International Bargaining Forum] agreement, which gives them some workers' rights and they can be covered into their recovery. Any incident onboard a vessel involving machinery of this sort generally ends in either a serious incident or a fatality."
Read more: Workers Seriously Injured in Incident with Load Spreader Machinery on Ship
International Union News
Turkey: Miners at Soma continue to suffer abuse from company
Last year in May, the Soma coal mine hit the world's headlines when 301 workers were massacred in an explosion due to the company's drive to maximise profits and minimise health and safety costs. Later that year in December, the same company, the Soma Holding Company, announced the laying-off of 2,800 workers from its mines. This will have a devastating effect on workers' families and communities with mining the major activity in the area. In the latest blow to workers, the company has announced that it is unable to provide any severance pay to these workers. The events of the last year offer a stark example of the brutality of the profit system where workers are treated as disposable costs.
Read more: Todays Zaman IndustriALL Media release Source: AAWL Mini News
Qatar: Workers no better than slaves
SafetyNet has preciously reported the shocking working conditions in Qatar in preparation for the World Cup. Forced to work under the desert's scorching sun, denied food, drinking water, and barred from escaping home, thousands of men in Qatar are modern day slaves. Last year, one person died every other day building a billion dollar mega-project for Qatar's 2022 World Cup. A major part of the project is managed by an American company with a CEO who lives in Colorado. Qatar's "guest worker" program is at the root of the problem. It lures people from Nepal and Sri Lanka with promises of good jobs, but when they arrive their employers confiscate their passports and force them to work long hours in 50 degree heat with no chance of escape.
The US company, CH2M Hill, says the local contractors and government laws are to blame, but CH2M Hill is the public face of World Cup construction. Their CEO can and must take a lead role in ensuring there are not seven more years of worker deaths. She could even threaten to take their business elsewhere unless this system is changed. Avaaz is running a campaign to collect 1 million signatures calling for freedom – and to confront the CEO every time she leaves her house to go to work, or to ski, until she takes action. The organisation says that this same tactic pushed Hilton Hotels to protect women against sex trafficking in days -- join the urgent call to help free Qatar's modern slaves.
Read more: Death toll among Qatar's 2022 World Cup workers revealed
The Guardian; Building a Better World Cup (pdf ); Human Rights Watch; At a Qatar Project Overseen by Americans, Workers Die Almost Daily Bloomberg; Qatar accused of dragging its feet over treatment of migrant workers Amnesty.
USA: Keep nurses safe by protecting patients.
US Nursing unions say the best way to keep nurses from injuring their back is to have safe staffing levels. The American Nurses Association estimates that 8 out of 10 nurses say they frequently work with joint or back pain, and the nursing profession has the highest rate of on-the-job injuries of any other. The unions believe the answer is legislation mandating safe staffing ratios – that is, a set number of nurses for each patient that varies based on how sick the patients are. "Studies have also clearly demonstrated that when you have adequate staffing levels the numbers of injuries to nurses goes down," said Lisa Baum, Occupational Health and Safety Representative for the New York State Nurses Association. John James, of Patient Safety America agrees. He said "The nurses, in many ways, are the last line of defence against harm to patients." James says when a nurse is stretched too thin, they're less likely to catch errors and more likely to make a few of their own.
Read more: Report Source: Risks 691
India: Indian cars built on assembly line of crushed limbs.
An investigation into the Indian car manufacturing industry has revealed many safety breaches and injuries, and an alarming rate of crushed limbs. In Haryana, for example, one hospital alone gets twenty cases daily. Approximately 80,000 workers work at more than 600 companies, with a majority producing components for cars and bikes. Most of the injuries are caused by power presses, which cut, shape or mould metal by ramming it with a heavy piston-like arm. The worker operating the machine places the metal piece on the work table, presses a pedal or lever which brings down the arm. Once the arm pulls back, they remove the reshaped piece from the table, before repeating the process. When the arm comes down before the worker's hand is out of the way, it leads to amputations. According to the report, shop floor supervisors and company managers blame such accidents on the lack of alertness on part of the workers. But accounts of injured workers reveal that the "accidents" are taking place in such large numbers because companies are saving costs at the expense of worker safety. A large number of machines have no safety guards despite a legal requirement for them to be installed. "Our laws are good," said Suresh Shrivastava, a former government employee, "but we are bad at enforcing them."
Read more: Your car has been built on an assembly line of broken fingers Scroll.in Source: Risks 691
Mexico: ninth anniversary of the industrial homicide at Pasta de Conchos
On 19 February 2006, industrial homicide was committed at Grupo Mexico's Pasta de Conchos coal mine 8, at San Juan de Sabinas. An explosion inside the mine trapped 65 miners. Two bodies were recovered in 2006 and 2007 but no further attempts have been made to recover the other bodies. IndustriALL Global Union is supporting demands for the state and federal governments to inspect the mines and protect the lives of miners; for the bodies to be recovered and given a decent burial; for a thorough investigation into what happened and punishment for those responsible.
Read more: IndustriALL media release
Cabin air toxic to crew, frequent flyers
A UK coroner has warned that toxic fumes in cabin air could pose a health risk to frequent fliers and aircrew. Stanhope Payne, the senior coroner for Dorset, said that people regularly exposed to fumes circulating planes faced "consequential damage to their health". Inquiring into the death of a British Airways pilot, the coroner called on BA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to take "urgent action to prevent future deaths".
Campaigners, including unions, have raised similar concerns for a number of years. The report is the first official UK recognition of so-called 'aerotoxic syndrome' - long denied by airlines, but blamed by some for the deaths of at least two pilots and numerous other incidents in which pilots have passed out in flight.
Commercial passenger planes have a system which compresses air from the engines and uses it to pressurise the cabin – which can malfunction and allow excess oil particles to enter the air supply. As the air recirculates in the confined space of a cabin the cumulative effect on frequent fliers, particularly aircrew, can be harmful, the coroner said.
Read more: Toxic fumes in plane cabins pose health risks to frequent flyers, says coroner The Independent
Fatigued workers more likely to have difficulties with routine tasks
In another case of research providing evidence for the obvious, researchers from China and the US have found that fatigued workers are significantly more likely than their non-tired counterparts to experience difficulties with everyday activities – making otherwise routine tasks hazardous. Of 606 US construction workers surveyed, 49 per cent reported being 'tired some days' in the previous three months and 10 per cent reported 'tired most days or every day'. Compared with those feeling 'never tired', workers who felt 'tired some days' were significantly more likely to report difficulty with physical function.
The researchers said construction workers were prone to fatigue because of awkward working postures and prolonged work hours, and at risk of decreased motivation and vigilance. Many tasks performed on construction sites require workers to follow specific procedural steps and levels of concentration - so lapses in memory or focus had the potential to lead to serious injury. "Additionally, reduced physical capabilities can interfere with task performance; if normal agility or strength are compromised because of fatigue, routine tasks may become hazardous," the researchers say. "In view of the safety implications of impaired physical or cognitive function, our study suggests that tiredness or exhaustion should be assessed as part of an overall evaluation of safety risk among construction workers."
Read more: M. Zhang, et al, Influence of fatigue on construction workers' physical and cognitive function [Abstract], Occupational Medicine, 20 February 2015.
The latest edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox was sent out on February 18 – announcing a competition inviting subscribers to complete a survey giving their views on how Safety Soapbox could be improved - and win a prize. It's not too late to enter, as the competition closes on March 18. This edition has a number of items relating to prosecutions, and on the arrest of a trespasser who was climbing 30 storeys up the scaffolding of a building under construction in Melbourne's CBD(!!).
From 29 January to 11 February 2015 there were a total of 86 incidents notified to WorkSafe. The incidents with the highest injury rate included 27 lacerations, 23 near misses, 11 fractures and eight electric shocks. Note that the 'near misses' included a worker falling off a roof (which Renata doesn't consider a 'near miss'!), a pallet falling 20 metres, fires, and more.
Access the February 18 Safety Soapbox edition online, including link to the list of reported incidents.
Safe Work Australia
New Report on Construction Industry
Safe Work Australia has released a new report: Work Health and Safety Perceptions: Construction Industry. The construction industry is designated as a priority industry for work health and safety in the 2012-22 Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy due to the high number and rate of work-related injuries and illnesses and inherent risks associated with working in the industry. This report is one of a series produced by Safe Work Australia on priority industries. The report focuses on:
- work-related injuries
- exposure to disease-causing hazards and provision of control measures
- work health and safety practices
- work health and safety attitudes and perceptions
Construction workers reported a "substantially higher proportion" of work-related cuts and open wounds and fall from heights compared to workers in the other industries. Airborne hazards, vibration and noise were the most common cause of illness.
SWA expressed concern that only four in 10 employers reviewed incident reports and statistics. "Despite this, almost all agreed that corrective action is undertaken when they are told about unsafe practices and that safety improvements are implemented within a reasonable time frame," the report said. "This suggests that while construction employers are working to ensure their workplaces are safe and that they are complying with work health and safety requirements, employers may be lacking in terms of responsive actions following work health and safety incidents."
Also: New information sheets for construction workers on managing risks at construction workplaces.
Three information sheets have been published by Safe Work Australia:
- Workplace induction for construction workplaces - covers what should be included in workplace specific induction training and task specific training for construction work.
- Safe work method statements for high risk construction work - discusses the function, content and application of safe work method statements that are required for high risk construction work.
- Construction work - work of a minor nature - provides general guidance on what might be considered 'work of a minor nature' and is therefore not covered by chapter six of the work health and safety regulations when testing, maintaining or repairing a building or structure.
These can be downloaded in word or pdf format on this page of the SWA website.
As of February 23, the deaths of 24 Australian workers were notified to Safe Work Australia. The fatalities so far this year have been in the following industries: five each in Agriculture, forestry and fishing; and in Transport, postal and warehousing; four in Mining; three in 'other services'; two each in Construction; Manufacturing; and Electricity, gas, water & waste services; and one in Arts & Recreation services. More information on which industries the fatalities occurred in is accessible on the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities page.
The latest monthly fatality report released remains that for October 2014, during which a total of 16 work-related deaths were notified. Monthly reports can be downloaded from the Safe Work Australia Monthly Fatalities Reports page.
From WorkSafe WA: A new webpage to help small businesses identify and act on safety issues. The site includes a questionnaire, designed to help businesses develop a tailored checklist of workplace safety issues.
From the UK's HSE: A Recipe for Safety a new, free guide on Health and safety in food and drink manufacture. This guide is for everyone in the industry, including workers, supervisors, managers, directors, health and safety professionals and health and safety representatives. The guidance covers the main health and safety hazards in the food and drink industries and gives practical advice on how to manage the associated risks. It provides a 'one-stop shop' reference document with links to more detailed guidance.
From the European Trade Union Institute: A new Guide to electromagnetic fields – to prevent exposure to electromagnetic fields. It is also designed as an aid to understanding the new EU Directive on occupational exposure to EMFs (2013/35 EU), which will come into force in 2016. The Guide presents an overview of occupational exposure to electromagnetic field according to frequency: static fields, low, intermediate and radio frequencies. Last but not least, the guide presents recommendations as to how a precautionary approach can help to reduce high exposure.
Electromagnetic fields in working life. A guide to risk assessment
Home construction company fined for failure to conduct a hazard/risk assessment
Designer Built Homes Pty Ltd, a registered building company, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrate's Court to breaching section 23(1) of the OHS Act 2004 (failing to ensure persons other than its employees were not exposed to risks to their health or safety). The company was engaged to erect a hoarding along the perimeter of a building site next to a pedestrian footpath. The solid plywood hoarding was fixed to crumbling asphalt. In erecting the hoarding the builder failed to consult a relevant standard, such as the Australian Standard for hoardings or use a competent person (such as a structural engineer) to check the hoarding was structurally safe. On 12 August 2013, a pedestrian was walking along the footpath next to the hoarding. It was raining and there were strong winds. The hoarding fell towards the footpath and struck the pedestrian. On 30 January 2015, the company was convicted and fined $12,000 (plus $3,245 costs).
Employer convicted and fined following explosion
On 26 March 2013 an explosion occurred at a commercial mushroom growing operation. The mushroom growing process requires sterilization of the growing room through a process known as a "burn-out." This involves heating the room for a period of time using an LP Gas powered "Wildcat" direct fired air heater. The explosion occurred during the sterilization of such a room – and a contracted employee of owner Lance Darren Robertson, suffered serious burns. A WorkSafe investigation found the gas heater used was unsuitable in that a safety sensor had been removed, an unsuitable supply hose and clamp were fitted and the heater had not been maintained or serviced. Robertson pleaded not guilty to breaching sections 21(1) and 21(2)(a) and 23(1) of the OHS Act 2004. On 30 January 2015 in a contested hearing in the Bendigo Magistrate's Court, the accused was convicted on the first charge and fined $50,000, (plus $15,106 costs).
Executive director of Health and Safety, Len Neist, said LP gas was commonly used in workplaces across Victoria but care always had to be taken to reduce the risk of leaks. "Because LP gas is heavier than air, it does not disperse quickly so any leak has the potential to ignite, causing serious injury or even death," Mr Neist said. "It is why regular inspections of all gas-related equipment are so essential at every workplace." He added that maintaining equipment to appropriate standards was a critical part of the safety equation in any workplace. "Cutting back on regular servicing of equipment does not save a business money. As WorkSafe inspectors have seen far too often when attending a serious incident, it's simply a shortcut to tragedy."
Read more: WorkSafe Media Release
Employer fined following crush injury
BKD Precast Pty Ltd, a manufacturer of concrete tilt-slab wall panels for the construction industry, pleaded guilty to breaching sections 21(1) and 21(2)(a) of the OHS Act 2004 for failing to provide and maintain for its employees systems of work that were, so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health. The company stores reinforcing mesh sheets for use in the concrete panels on site, storing these in vertical storage racks at the workplace. On 12 August 2013, an employee of BKD was injured when he was in the process of removing reinforcing mesh sheet from the vertical mesh storage system. The reinforcing mesh sheet fell from the vertical rack and onto the employees' right leg. On 5 February 2015, BKD was fined $30,000 without conviction, (plus $3,895 costs) in the Dandenong Magistrate's Court.
Source: WorkSafe Prosecution result summaries
Comcare: Linfox receives upper limit fine
Linfox Australia has accepted a fine for a 2011 safety breach after the company reached an agreement with Comcare, the federal safety regulator, for a set penalty range. The Federal Court fined Linfox $90,000 – the top of the agreed penalty range – after an employee's head was crushed during a forklift incident at an Ikea distribution centre in NSW. The worker suffered extensive injuries when he was hit by a forklift while unloading pallets inside a shipping container at the distribution centre in October 2011. His head was crushed between the load of cardboard pallets on the forklift and the inside wall of the shipping container. Linfox and Comcare agreed the penalty should be between $60,000 and $90,000 but Justice Flick deemed the "foreseeability of injury" warranted the upper range.
Source: (Comcare v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd  FCA 6112/5/15 )
WA: Firm & electrician fined over death
A Bunbury electrical contracting business and one of its employees have been fined a total of (only) $44,800 over the 2013 electrocution of an 18-year-old trades assistant in the roof space of a house in Western Australia. JCW Electrical Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and was fined $38,000. Licensed electrician Dale Mortley pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care and, by that failure, causing the death of the trades assistant - he was fined $6,800. The trades assistant, who was not licensed to perform electrical work, was electrocuted on February 8, 2013 in the roof space of a Bunbury home. WorkSafe WA said Mortley failed to conclusively ensure any circuits were properly isolated and JCW failed to ensure the mains were isolated before the young man went into the roof. WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said the case demonstrated the care required when working with electricity. "The case also sends a clear message to employers that electrical work should not under any circumstances be performed by assistants or anyone else who is not properly trained and qualified to undertake the work safely." He advised strict safety systems be used and that electricity be switched off at the mains for electrical works and other trades, including pest controllers, insulation installers and air conditioning technicians.
Source: WorkSafe WA Announcement Electrical contracting business and electrician fined $44,800 over electrocution
Japan: Fresh leak of highly contaminated water at Fukishima
Last Sunday sensors at the Fukushima nuclear plant detected a fresh leak of highly radioactive water into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the sensors, which were rigged to a gutter that pours rain and ground water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to a nearby bay, detected contamination levels up to 70 times greater than the already-high radioactive status seen at the plant campus.
TEPCO's emergency inspections of tanks storing nuclear waste water found no additional abnormalities, but the gutter was shut down to prevent radioactive water from going into the Pacific Ocean. The latest incident, one of several in recent months, reflects the difficulty in controlling and decommissioning the plant, which went through meltdowns and explosions after being battered by a giant tsunami in March 2011, leading to the world's worst nuclear disaster in a generation. TEPCO has not been able to effectively deal with an increasing amount of contaminated water, used to cool the crippled reactors and molten fuels inside them and kept in large storage tanks on the plant's vast campus.
Read more: Fresh leak of highly radioactive water detected at Fukushima nuclear power plant ABC news online
USA: Federal judge rejects BP bid to lower US$13.7 billion oil spill fine.
A federal judge in New Orleans has rejected BP's effort to cap its fines from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill at US$9.57 billion, nearly one-third lower than the penalty federal prosecutors are seeking. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled on February 19 that BP could pay a maximum civil penalty of up to US$4,300 for each barrel of oil spilled. The fines apply under the Clean Water Act, the federal law governing water pollution. The ruling means BP continues to face up to US$13.7 billion in civil fines for the oil spill. Eleven workers were killed and 16 injured in the explosion which resulted in one of the worst environmental disasters in US history.
Read more: New Orleans Times Picayune, Louisiana. More news on Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill