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Germany breaks temperature record during European heat wave

Heat wave in europeGermany broke its heat record on Sunday after a 104.5 degree Fahrenheit temperature was documented, the hottest since records began in 1881.

The previous record of 104.3 degrees Fahrenheit was set in 1983 and matched in 2003. The new record was broken in the town of Kitzingen, a town of about 20,000 people located in southern Bavaria.

About 12 people died due to drowning in lakes, ponds, rivers and pools throughout the country in efforts by Germans to keep cool.

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320-acre wildfire threatens homes in Northern California

California wildfiresA wildfire that has burned more than 320 acres is threatening homes in a Northern California city.

The fire started around 10 p.m. Saturday. Wind gusts up to 40 mph caused the fire to spread quickly as embers sparked other fires, Vacaville city spokesman Mark Mazzaferro said.

KCRA-TV reports (http://apne.ws/1fd1gw5) that about 100 people have been evacuated. Vacaville is between San Francisco and Sacramento.

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This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it's leaking

Pacific dome is radioactive and leakingBlack seabirds circle high above the giant concrete dome that rises from a tangle of green vines just a few paces from the lapping waves of the Pacific. Half buried in the sand, the vast structure looks like a downed UFO.

At the summit, figures carved into the weathered concrete state only the year of construction: 1979. Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb.

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Shell Arctic oil drilling to commence within weeks

Shell to star Arctic oil drillingOil and gas giant Shell is expected to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic within the next two weeks.

Thirty ships left Dutch Harbor in Alaska on Thursday for the Arctic to support two initial exploratory wells.

The company has already committed about $7bn (£4.5bn) to the controversial project, and is confident it will find huge quantities of oil in the region.

But if the initial wells do not find oil, Shell will contemplate walking away from the region entirely.

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US Gulf states reach $18.7B settlement with BP

BPOfficials in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana announced an $18.7 billion settlement with BP on Thursday that resolves years of litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The settlement announcement comes as a federal judge was preparing to rule on how much BP owed in federal Clean Water Act penalties after millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf. Individual states also were pursuing litigation. Most of those penalties were to be distributed among the states for environmental and economic restoration projects along the Gulf Coast.

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Europe hit by soaring temperatures of over 40C

Europe heat waveParts of Europe have been hit by temperatures reaching above 40C, leading to concerns for the welfare of the young, the elderly and vulnerable.

Spain and Portugal are already on alert after temperatures reached as high as 44C in the Spanish city of Cordoba earlier in the week.

The hot weather has now reached France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. It was the UK's hottest day since 2006.

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New York state officially bans fracking

Fracking banned in NYIt's official: New York has banned fracking.

After more than seven years of study, the state Department of Environmental Conservation today issued the final document needed to ban the controversial drilling practice, known formally as high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

"Prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in a prepared statement. "High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated. This decision is consistent with DEC's mission to conserve, improve and protect our state's natural resources, and to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state."

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