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Environment & Science

Published Sat Jan 01 2000 00:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Environment & Science
Environment & Science

4.5 magnitude earthquake shakes southern Kansas


A small earthquake has been reported in southern Kansas. The U.S. Geological Survey said a magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck near Hutchinson shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday. No damage was immediately reported. The Hutchinson News reports that the earthquake happened near where several others have happened in Reno County. Kansas began seeing a spike in earthquakes in 2014 that were blamed on wastewater injection wells from oil and gas production. The number of quakes began tapering off after oil prices dropped and regulations were enacted. 

NASA contractor settles whistleblower complaint for $375,000


A NASA contractor has agreed to pay $375,000 in order to settle a whistleblower complaint that accused the company of falsely certifying that ground support equipment for a rocket launch system followed the space agency's requirements. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Orlando said Monday that United Paradyne Corporation reached the settlement over equipment it provided for NASA's Space Launch System rocket and the Orion space capsule. The system will send astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit. The company had agreed to manufacture equipment that would provide power, communications, coolant, fuel and stabilization to the rocket and capsule prior to launch.

Volcano briefly erupts on Alaska island, sends up ash cloud


The Alaska Volcano Observatory says a volcano in the Aleutian Islands erupted and sent an ash cloud high into the air. The National Weather Service issued an ash cloud warning for planes up to 24,000 feet after the volcano erupted Friday. It's on the largest island in the Aleutians that's also home to a village of 40 people. A scientist for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, says the ash cloud was not a threat to the village. The ash moved over the ocean. The observatory says the volcano is at a heightened level of unrest and more explosions could occur with little warning.

Eggs from endangered sea turtle stolen from Thai beach


A community in southern Thailand has offered a reward for catching whoever stole dozens of unhatched eggs of an endangered turtle species.  A marine resources official says the Pacific Leatherback turtle eggs were stolen before dawn Sunday from a beach in the southern province of Phang-nga. Local residents donated 50,000 baht ($1,660) for a reward to catch the thieves, and the sum was matched by provincial authorities, bringing the total to 100,000 baht ($3,320). The Pacific Leatherback is the world's largest sea turtle but also critically endangered, and its nests had not been seen in Thailand for five years until January 2019. 

North Dakota signals no new conditions on pipeline expansion


North Dakota regulators have signaled that the state won't impose conditions beyond those required by the federal government on a proposal to double the capacity of the Dakota Access Pipeline. An attorney for the North Dakota Public Service Commission said requiring additional measures could draw a legal challenge from the Texas-based pipeline's owner, Energy Transfer. The company wants to double the capacity of the pipeline to as much as 1.1 million barrels daily to meet growing demand for oil from North Dakota. It's seeking permission for additional pump stations in the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois.

New Mexico zoo cares for endangered Mexican gray wolves

This Nov. 22, 2019 image provided by the ABQ BioPark shows Archer, a Mexican gray wolf that was born in May at the zoo in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The BioPark is among the partners working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others to recover the endangered species. (ABQ BioPark via AP)

Albuquerque’s zoo is celebrating the survival of one of three Mexican gray wolf pups born at the facility this year. ABQ BioPark officials say the pup has grown over recent months and is becoming more curious and confident. The births in May marked the first time in nearly 15 years that the BioPark welcomed Mexican wolf pups. The rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America, Mexican wolves have struggled to gain ground since first being released in 1998 as part of an effort to return the animals to their historic range in the American Southwest. 

Researchers tie massive Pacific seabird die-off to heat wave

FILE -In this Jan. 7, 2016, photo, dead common murres lie on a rocky beach in Whittier, Alaska. Hundreds of thousands of common murres, a fast-flying seabird, died from starvation four winters ago in the North Pacific, and a new research paper attempts to explain why. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)

Hundreds of thousands of common murres, a fast-flying seabird, died from starvation four winters ago in the North Pacific, and a new research paper attempts to explain why. Lead author John Piatt of the U.S. Geological Survey says common murres were ambushed by effects of the marine heatwave that raised ocean temperatures for more than 700 days. The conditions lowered the nutritional value of small forage fish that murres eat and increased the metabolism of large fish that compete with murres for the available forage fish.  Researchers say murres starved and other top predators suffered because of the heatwave's effect on forage fish.

Japan revises Fukushima cleanup plan, delays key steps

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2017, file photo, ever-growing amount of contaminated, treated but still slightly radioactive, water at the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is stored in about 900 huge tanks, including those seen in this photo taken during a plant tour at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. Japan revised a roadmap on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, for the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster. It's a key step in the decadeslong process, underscoring high radiation and other risks. (Pablo M. Diez/Pool Photo via A, File)

Japan has revised a roadmap for the cleanup of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools. It's a key step in the decadeslong process, complicated by high radiation and other risks. The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., are keeping a 30- to 40-year completion target. The more than 4,700 units of fuel rods at the three melted reactors and two others pose a high risk because their storage pools are uncovered and a loss of water in case of another major disaster could cause the fuel rods to melt, releasing massive radiation. 

Images of starving lions in Sudan zoo spark global concern

In this Tuesday, Jan. 21 photo, a malnourished lion rests in a zoo in Khartoum, Sudan. With the staff at the destitute Al-Qurashi Park, as the zoo in Khartoum is known, unable to feed and look after the animals, many have died off or were evacuated, leaving only three skeletal lions. (AP Photo)

At a forlorn zoo in Sudan’s capital, the park's few remaining lions have been starving in rusted cages. Ribs protruding, eyes glassy, skin flaccid, they are desperate for food and water. The stark images, shared on social media by a local animal rights advocate, drew impassioned responses from thousands around the world. But that wasn’t enough to save two lionesses. Locals concerned about the fate of the lions flocked to the Khartoum zoom to help, bringing food and medical items despite the economic crisis gripping the country. Soaring food prices in Sudan triggered a mass protest movement last year that convulsed the large African country, ultimately ousting longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April. 

California's monarch butterflies critically low for 2nd year

FILE - In this July 29, 2019, file photo, a monarch butterfly rests on a plant at Abbott's Mill Nature Center in Milford, Del. The western monarch butterfly population wintering along California's coast remained critically low for the second year in a row, a count by an environmental group released Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, showed. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

A count by an environmental group shows the western monarch butterfly population wintering along California's coast remains critically low for the second year in a row. The Xerces Society said Thursday that the annual count of the orange-and-black insects recorded about 29,000 butterflies — not much better than last year's all-time low of 27,000. In the 1980s, about 4.5 million monarchs wintered in forested groves along the California coasts. Scientists say the butterflies are at critically low levels in the Western U.S. due to the destruction of their milkweed habitat, increased housing and use of pesticides. Researchers also have noted the effect of climate change.