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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Chemical Safety, Nuclear ‘Mafia’, Fry’s Electronics

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration failed to implement changes the board has urged for years, for safety improvements to refineries, chemical facilities, and sugar plants. CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said the regulatory changes – including a proposed standard to reduce or eliminate combustible dust – are needed to save lives. But OSHA said it has been held back by budget constraints and by a long rule-making process, Chemical & Engineering News reports.

The State Department Office of Inspector General has started in inquiry into whether ERM, the consultant that drew up a draft environmental analysis on the Keystone XL pipeline, had a conflict of interest, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports. The inquiry could lead to another “redo” of the analysis, the Hill says.

Several fact-checkers have criticized President Obama’s assertion that the Keystone XL pipeline will only create about 2,000 jobs during construction and 50-100 afterwards. Politifact said the statement was false and the Washington Post Fact Check gave Obama two “Pinocchios” out of a possible four.

South Korean president Park Geun-hye has likened the country’s nuclear power industry to a mafia as scandals in the sector pile up, the New York Times reports. Investigators have discovered substandard components installed in 14 of the country’s 23 nuclear plants, leading to closures at three of the reactors. Prosecutors have indicted officials at a testing company for allegedly faking safety tests on parts, indicted officials at a state-financed company for allegedly taking bribes, and raided the offices of 30 suppliers suspected of providing false quality certificates.

Buenos Aires, Argentina’s major agricultural province and the world’s biggest producer of soyoil and soymeal, plans to prohibit aerial spraying of pesticides near cities. The province will also require stricter supervision of ground-level application. Farmers expect to be compensated for higher costs, Reuters reports.

Fry’s Electronics has agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty to settle EPA allegations that the company imported and sold an unregistered product falsely claiming to be anti-bacterial and anti-pathogenic. The EPA issued a complaint against Fry’s over Cambre Products’ Game On brand “Dirt Rags,” a gaming equipment wipe. Products claiming to kill or repel bacteria are considered pesticides, and must be registered under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulations.

The senate unanimously approved Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn (Ret.) to head the Navy’s energy program, as well as James Jones to lead the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and Avi Garbow as the agency’s general counsel. The chamber did not take action on Kenneth Kopocis’s nomination to lead the EPA’s Office of Water, the Hill reports.

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