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Severe natural gas leak in Los Angeles County could be major disaster

Published: Tuesday, December 29, 2016 @ 3:28 AM
Updated: Tuesday, December 29, 2016 @ 3:28 AM

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A massive natural gas leak from a Los Angeles County storage facility is pouring millions of pounds of methane into the atmosphere, and California officials say it's shaping up to be major ecological disaster.

Officials told The Washington Post the Aliso Canyon leak was first detected more than two months ago and is releasing about 110,000 pounds of gas per hour. It's invisible to the naked eye, but the outlet recently obtained infrared video showing the dangerous gas billowing into the air.

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On top of being an explosive hazard, the methane is also a potent greenhouse gas that's reportedly affecting both the atmosphere and the well-being of many nearby residents.

Thousands have been forced to evacuate the area, and students there will have to move to different schools. And several lawsuits have already been filed by people who claim they've been harmed by the leak.

"I have felt the effects, as my husband has — the stomach, the vomiting, the headaches. But when my 17-month-old son has to be on a nebulizer and comes home with bloody noses, there's no excuse," resident Robin Shapiro told NPR.

A spokesperson for the storage facility's owner, Southern California Gas Co., told the Los Angeles Times the leak likely began when an underground well-casing failed, which allowed pressurized gas to push through to the surface.

So far, efforts to contain the gas leak have been unsuccessful, and state officials say it could take months before it's stopped.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

Warm up your car this morning? That could be illegal where you live

Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2018 @ 5:30 PM

If you leave your vehicle running for more than 3 minutes, you may have to pay a whopping $5,000 fine Many states actually have laws against letting your car idle, even in the cold Some states or cities even have laws against using automatic car starters Violators face a minimum fine of $500 Even if a few minutes of idling doesn't seem like a big cost to the environment, we have to think on a mass scale

You're in Washington D.C. on a freezing cold morning, ice frosting your vehicles windows. Not wanting a cold drive to the office, you ask your partner to start the car for you as they leave.

»RELATED: Winter weather: How to shovel, remove snow safely

Sounds perfectly reasonable right? Well, beware because if you leave that vehicle running for more than 3 minutes, you may have to pay a whopping $5,000 fine! It's not exactly common knowledge, but many states actually have laws against letting your car idle, even in the cold when you just want a warm drive to work.

Some states or cities even have laws against using automatic car starters, according to Lifewire. Such laws are an outgrowth of existing laws against leaving your car running while you're not inside.

In Atlanta, the law states: "No person shall stop or stand any truck or bus on any street or public place and idle for more than 15 minutes," according to a compilation of idling laws on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) website. Violators face a minimum fine of $500, but there is also a clause that allows for up to 25 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

While you may think Washington D.C.'s and Atlanta's regulations are a bit extreme, Ohio has a zero tolerance policy for idling, according to Men's Health. But the citation is also significantly less, set at $50. The Buckeye state isn't the only place in the country taking a hard line stance against idling either. The city of Auburn in California also promises $50 fines to anyone caught running their parked vehicle.

Another example is Colorado, where idling is forbidden, unless the temperatures dip below 20 degrees. Many other cities and states have similar regulations, setting rules based on temperatures and/or time limits.

»RELATED: 5 fast car tricks for winter weather

Of course, there's logic behind putting such laws on the books. With scientists around the world regularly warning humanity about the dire and ballooning effects of climate change, cutting down on vehicle emissions is an important, albeit seemingly small, step to address the issue. 

Just last months, a new scientific study revealed that the worst-case predictions regarding climate change are likely the most accurate. The results followed the November publication of an open letter to humanity from more than 15,000 international scientists urging society to address major environmental concerns before it's "too late."

As scientists continue to sound the alarm bells, it certainly pays to be cautious. Even if a few minutes of idling doesn't seem like a big cost to the environment, we have to think on a mass scale. If tens of millions of Americans run their cars for several extra minutes each day, the emissions skyrocket.

At the same time, there has to be a middle ground. In the bitter cold winter temperatures, sometimes preheating your car is the only option. Fortunately, places – such as Atlanta – have added some common sense to their regulation, allowing drivers ample time to heat up their vehicles in low temperatures without risking a fine.

Here's a list of states that have laws against idling, according to the EPA.

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. Connecticut
  5. Delaware
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Georgia
  8. Hawaii
  9. Illinois
  10. Louisiana
  11. Maine
  12. Maryland
  13. Massachusetts
  14. Minnesota
  15. Missouri
  16. Nevada
  17. New Hampshire
  18. New Jersey
  19. New York
  20. Ohio
  21. Oregon
  22. Pennsylvania
  23. Rhode Island
  24. South Carolina
  25. Texas
  26. Utah
  27. Vermont
  28. Virginia
  29. Washington
  30. Wisconsin
  31. Wyoming

Some of the regulations are city specific, while others are state-wide. If you're now concerned that you might have been regularly or occasionally breaking the law, you can check your area's regulations via the EPA's roundup

Remember, stay warm out there! But also be conscious of the environment and avoid unnecessary fines.


6 little-known facts about winter solstice

Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 @ 8:46 AM

This year's solstice will take place on Thursday, Dec. 21 Winter solstice traces back to ancient history of enticing the sun to come back It's no coincidence Christmas Day coincides with the winter solstice Ginger has been a longstanding favorite of the winter solstice Winter solstice bonfires started the tradition of feasts during the holiday season Solstices are different from equinoxes It's one of the few times a year you can get up close to the rocks at Stonehenge

Winter solstice is sneaking up on us just as quickly as stuffed turkeys and Christmas trees. This year's solstice will take place on Thursday, Dec.  21. 

RELATED: Debate settled: This is the right time to put up your Christmas tree

The astronomical phenomenon happens as the earth orbits the sun (see this helpful animation). During the winter, one hemisphere (this applies to North and South) is tilted away from the sun and receives sunlight at a more oblique angle, causing a drop in temperature. 

FILE - This Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 file photo show fall colors beginning to show along Route 209 in Reilly Township, Schuylkill County, Pa. Across the United States, 2017’s first freeze has been arriving further and further into the calendar, according to more than a century of measurements from weather stations nationwide.(David McKeown/Republican-Herald via AP)

The winter solstice is the point of earth’s orbit when this trend stops and that hemisphere begins to receive more and more sunlight at a steep angle. This causes temperatures to rise and days to grow longer. 

The winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year and is culturally considered the first day of winter. Since ancient times it's been celebrated as a holiday and has helped shape many cultural traditions.

Here are 6 little-known facts about winter solstice:

Winter solstice traces back to ancient history.

Ancient humans noticed the shortening of the days and were terrified that one day there would be no more daylight left. With time, people realized that after this day each year, the sun began moving towards them, again. They began to observe the day in various ways and created traditions to entice the sun to come back, known as solstice celebrations. Some of those traditions included offering gifts of imitation fruit (symbols of fertility) and the lighting of yule logs, a special log that is burned through the night of the winter solstice to help bring light to the darkest night of the year and to help reignite the sun.

It's no coincidence Christmas Day coincides with the winter solstice.

In modern times, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. Many believe that celebrating the birth of Jesus was set to sync with the December solstice because from that point on, the days begin to have more daylight in the Northern Hemisphere. However, according to historian David Gwynn, Christmas was set on Dec. 25 to offset pagan celebrations of Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun), a Roman holiday.

Another connection to Christmas is the term Yule, derived from the Norse word jól, which refers to the pre-Christian winter solstice festival.

A modern deluxe gingerbread house complete with double doors. Ginger traces back to the early traditions of winter solstice.(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Ginger has been a longstanding favorite of the winter solstice.

Making gingerbread houses and cookies around Christmas time is a tradition for many people that brings warmth and happiness to their homes. But did you know that this special herb was unknown to Europeans until it was brought back by returning crusaders in the early 1100s? It was a big hit and became a holiday favorite, used in gingerbread and teas.

Winter solstice bonfires started the tradition of feasts during the holiday season.

Heavy meals, also known as feasts, were very common at solstice bonfires. Much of the food we eat today at feasts, including pork (reminiscent of wild boar hunts common in northern Europe) and other meats. At this time of the year, farmers harvested their herds to avoid having to feed them over winter, and the wives harvested all the herbs.

Soltices are different from equinoxes.

Solstices are easily confused with equinoxes but are not the same thing. Like solstices, equinoxes happen twice a year, occurring in the spring and fall instead of the winter and summer. And while solstices occur during the time when the sun is farthest from the equatorial plane, equinoxes occur at the time when the sun spends the same amount of time at the equatorial plane, giving equal lengths to day and night.

A crowd gathers at Stonehenge during 2012's winter solstice(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

It's one of the few times a year you can get up close to the rocks at Stonehenge.

In this lifetime, at least once, plan a unique and monumental trip to Stonehenge. During a solstice or equinox, visitors are allowed to freely walk through the ancient stone monument - thanks to English Heritage, the group that oversees Stonehenge.

Community shred events today in Dayton, Warren County

Published: Saturday, September 30, 2017 @ 11:07 AM

            Jenny Bonser, a client at United Rehabilitation Services, shreds paper at the new URS office on Derr Road in Springfield.Bill Lackey/Staff
Jenny Bonser, a client at United Rehabilitation Services, shreds paper at the new URS office on Derr Road in Springfield.Bill Lackey/Staff

The Universal One Credit Union is holding a community shredding event until noon today at the bank office at 1 River Park Dr. off South Main Street in Dayton.

The first 30 participants get a gift. The events enable people to recycle paper with personal information at no cost.

Also today a community shred day sponsored by LCNB National Bank is scheduled until 1 p.m. at the Otterbein Office, Campus Center Building, 585 N. Ohio 741 in Turtlecreek Twp., Warren County.

LCNB is also sponsoring shredding events on Oct. 21 at the Springboro office, 525 W. Central Ave. For more information, visit

New bridge planned over Little Miami: 5 things to know

Published: Wednesday, August 09, 2017 @ 10:53 AM

Warren County plans to replace the bridge over the Little Miami River with one passing above the trail running along the river.

A new $9.5 million bridge is planned over the Little Miami River in Warren County. It would replace an existing span near the multi-use trail along the river nears Kings Mills, Mason and the $25.4 million Peters Cartridge Factory redevelopment.

MORE: $5 million environmental cleanup closes bike trail

The new Kings Avenue bridge would be built in 2022 or 2023. This public investment would take total investment in the area around the former factory over $40 million.

MORE: County cuts tap-in fees by almost $500,000 for redevelopment

Warren County Engineer Neil Tunison left Tuesday’s County Board of Commissioners meeting with support for his plan to pay for the bridge with $5 million in federal funds through the state county engineers association and other public monies yet to be identified. The factory developer, Bloomfield/Schon and Associates, is not expected to help pay for the new bridge.

MORE: Warren County engineer plans $44 million in road and bridge projects

The new bridge would ease the sharpness of a curve on the west side of the river leading to Grandin Road and Mason. It would cross the river north of the existing bridge and go over the trail, leaving an existing trailside parking lot and moving the bridge away from the redevelopment, where 130 apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail space are to be constructed.

MORE: Developer appeals for fee reductions on historic ammunition factory redevelopment 

The plan takes the most expensive of three options presented to residents earlier this year as alternatives. Load limits have already been reduced on the current bridge due to deterioration detected in inspections.