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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

News Follow-Up

Air Date: Week of

New developments in stories we've been following recently.


CURWOOD: You're listening to NPR's Living on Earth. Time now to follow up on some of the news stories we've been tracking lately. Until this September, airports all over the U.S. were making plans to deal with congested air traffic. But people are now starting to think again about expanding airports. Los Angeles mayor, Jim Hahn, is considering a new master plan for LAX, which would de-emphasize airport growth, compared with other options.

HAHN: So I want to move as quickly as possible and really downsize that plan and orient it more towards security, and I think if we do that we can solve some noise problems, solve some traffic problems, and really make Los Angeles the state-of-the-art in terms of safety.

CURWOOD: Mayor Hahn adds that smaller airports near L.A. may be the best solution to air traffic problems at LAX.


CURWOOD:A few years ago, we visited Toms River, New Jersey, where some people were wondering if chemicals could be blamed for a cluster of childhood cancers. A former chemical manufacturing plant there had been declared a super fund site. Now the land's current owner, Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corporation, has signed an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to clean it up. The EPA's Nina Habib Spencer.

SPENCER: Before we can move any further, we do need to have something in our hands that commits this company to paying for this clean-up and to actually undertaking the clean-up under EPA oversight. And that's what this consent decree is.

CURWOOD: Special bacteria will be used to break down contaminants in the soil, while other solid waste will be removed from the site for proper disposal. Treatment of contaminated groundwater is ongoing.


CURWOOD: Last year, we reported on the communities who live in the shadow of Popocatepetl, a volcano outside Mexico City. Scientists have now devised a map that predicts which areas around the volcano are most likely to be threatened by mud flows and lava. Michael Sheridan, of the University at Buffalo, says the map gives disaster crews some guidance for their planning of how to respond to a major eruption.

SHERIDAN: This is really critical for people around Popo, because many of the people don't speak Spanish, don't have electricity, don't have paved roads. So the communication with these people requires extraordinary capabilities.

CURWOOD: Scientists combined topographical data from satellite images with computer models of how these lava and degree might flow. They hope to increase the resolution of their map over the next few years.

Finally, you may remember our story about these little critters.


CURWOOD: Those are the Coqui, Caribbean tree frogs that have infested Hawaii, and are keeping islanders up all night long with their loud calls. Now the EPA has issued its approval for a caffeine spray to kill this invasive species. It may be the first instance of caffeine actually helping people to get a good night's sleep. And that's this week’s follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.



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