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Wednesday, Apr 16th

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A Quarter Of Europe's Bumblebees, Vital To Agriculture, Face Extinction

bumble beesAlmost a quarter of Europe's bumblebees are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitats and climate change, threatening pollination of crops worth billions of dollars, a study showed on Wednesday.

Sixteen of 68 bumblebee species in Europe are at risk, the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said. It is preparing a global study of the bees, whose honeybee cousins are in steep decline because of disease.

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Sahara desert dust brings smog to Britain

Saharan dust brings fog to LondonBritish authorities on Wednesday warned people with heart or lung conditions to avoid exertion as a combination of European emissions and Sahara dust created a "perfect storm" of pollution that blanketed the country in smog.

The environment department said air pollution in some areas reached the top rung on its 10-point scale.

The department said the smog was caused by pollution from Britain and industrialized areas of the continent — trapped in place because of light winds — mixing with dust blown up from a storm in the Sahara desert.

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Audio: Captains of vessels that collided in Houston Ship Channel knew they were on a collision course

Oil spill galvestonThe captains of the two vessels that collided in the Houston Ship Channel were aware they were perilously close to one another but still failed to avert a spill that dumped 168,000 gallons of oil into the water, according to a U.S. Coast Guard audio recording.

The recording, obtained by the Houston Chronicle in a Freedom of Information Act request, indicates the captains spoke in a frantic radio exchange beginning about five minutes before the March 22 collision. But the exchange apparently came too late for the captains to avoid making contact in the crowded waterway, trafficked daily by massive, oceangoing container ships.

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Colorado Investigates a Spike in Fetal Abnormalities Near Natural Gas Drilling Site

Fetal abnormalities near frackingThe Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has  called in an epidemiologist to investigate a recent spike in fetal abnormalities in Garfield County on Colorado's western slope. Stacey Gavrell, Director of Community Relations for Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said area prenatal care providers reported the increase in fetal abnormalities to the hospital, which then notified CDPHE.

So far neither the hospital nor the state have released information about the numbers of cases reported, over what span of time, or the amount of the increase.

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Large explosion rocks Washington natural gas plant; 5 workers hurt, 400 residents evacuated

gas explosion washingtonA large explosion rocked a natural gas processing plant on the Washington-Oregon border Monday, injuring five workers, causing about 400 people to evacuate from nearby farms and homes, and emitting a mushroom cloud of black smoke that was visible for more than a mile.

The 8:20 a.m. blast at the Williams Northwest Pipeline facility near the Washington town of Plymouth, along the Columbia River, sparked a fire and punctured one of the facility's two giant storage tanks for liquefied natural gas.

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U.N. court orders Japan to halt Antarctic whaling program

Japan whaling ordered to stopThe International Court of Justice on Monday ordered a temporary halt to Japan's Antarctic whaling program, ruling that it is not for scientific purposes as Japan had claimed.

Australia had sued Japan at the U.N.'s highest court in hopes of ending whaling in the icy Southern Ocean. Australia, which said Japan has slaughtered more than 10,000 whales since 1988, insisted that the Japanese program was a thinly disguised commercial exploit under the cover of scientific research.

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Yellowstone Earthquake: Volcanic Eruption Not Expected After Strongest Tremor in 34 Years

Yellowstone earthquakeYellowstone National Park was shaken by its largest earthquake in 34 years Sunday, but scientists say there is no concern that the quake will lead to an eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera, a supervolcano located in the park.

The magnitude-4.8 earthquake struck inside the park boundaries at 6:34 a.m. MDT Sunday. The epicenter was near the middle of the par, near the Norris Geyser Basin, according to Peter Cervelli of the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake, the largest since another 4.8 tremor on February 22, 1980, was preceded by two foreshocks measuring 2.8 and 3.0 at 12:23 a.m. and 4:36 a.m. Sunday, respectively. The main shock was then followed by at least four aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 2.5 to 3.3 later Sunday morning.

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