Extra Extra : Disasters

Officials were warned about dangers of Wash. mudslide area

Snohomish County officials in a 2010 report were warned that neighborhoods along the Stillaguamish River were ranked “as one of the highest risk areas for deadly and destructive landslides," according to The Seattle Times.

The document contradicts claims from an emergency-management official that the area “was considered very safe” and that the slide “came out of nowhere.”

The Times also found state records showing that the plateau that gave way Saturday had been logged for almost a century. Scientists in recent decades had warned that the slope was becoming unstable and could potentially lead to calamity.

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Federal government reduces fines for deadly "gas blow" incident, still no ban against practice

After six workers were killed in a massive gas explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown four years ago, federal investigators tallied hundreds of violations at the site and issued $16.6 million in penalties against more than a dozen companies — the third-largest workplace-safety fine in the nation's history.

But in the years since the blast, the federal government agreed to deals that will wipe out as much as 88 percent of the fines levied against the companies it determined were responsible for the explosion, a Courant review of documents related to the case has revealed.

FEMA money unequally distributed in flooded Colo. neighborhoods

"It’s been four months since record floods tore up roadways and transformed the geography of northeastern Colorado. Since then, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has spent millions helping people affected by the disaster.

Yet an investigation by FOX31 Denver found some neighborhoods are getting a lot less FEMA money than others."

Read the full story and explore the station's interactive map.

Ammonium nitrate sold by ton as U.S. regulation is stymied

Despite being banned in countries such as Afghanistan, China, Colombia, Germany, Ireland and the Philippines, the potentially explosive fertilizer ammonium nitrate  can be purchased pure and by the ton in the United States, according to the Dallas Morning News.

An investigation by the newspaper found that "for more than a decade, U.S. efforts to tighten controls over ammonium nitrate fertilizer have repeatedly failed, bogged down by bureaucratic gridlock and industry resistance. Regulations approved years ago remain unenforced and unfinished. Mere talk of safer substitutes has been blocked by those with profits at stake."

Many Oklahoma schools not adequately prepared for emergencies

Despite a 10-year-old state law requiring schools to have up-to-date safety and disaster plans on file with local emergency management officials, 9 Investigates at KWTV in Oklahoma City and 6 Investigates at KOTV in Tulsa, Okla., found that few districts are in compliance. Often, fewer than half the schools in an area had current plans on file, and very few private schools did.

Using Outdated Data, FEMA Is Wrongly Placing Homeowners in Flood Zones

"From Maine to Oregon, local floodplain managers say FEMA’s recent flood maps — which dictate the premiums that 5.5 million Americans pay for flood insurancehave often been built using outdated, inaccurate data. Homeowners, in turn, have to bear the cost of fixing FEMA’s mistakes," according to a ProPublica report.

Extra Extra Monday: Cheating scandals, Big Food's misleading labels, climbing the income ladder

The huge drone that could not be grounded | Center for Public Integrity
“A major defense contractor used campaign donations and insider access on Capitol Hill to defy the Air Force and keep a troubled drone aloft at a cost to taxpayers of billions of dollars.”

In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters | The New York  Times
“A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.”

How Pennsyl­vania Schools Made a Cheating Scandal Disappear | Philadelphia CityPaper
“Given the scope of the ...

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