Archive for September, 2010

Initial cleanup of Michigan oil spill completed

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 | Finance News

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Initial cleanup of southwestern Michigan waterways and riverbanks from a July oil spill has been completed and most of the 820,000 gallons that leaked from a ruptured pipeline recovered, officials said Thursday.

Crews continue removing contaminated sediments from the Kalamazoo River bottom and searching out isolated pockets of oil onshore. But the operation is shifting from mopping up oil to a long-range project to restore the area to its pre-spill condition.

"The ultimate goal is to remove all oil from the environment," said Mark Durno, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's deputy incident commander. But authorities are leaving some to degrade naturally in sensitive wetlands where cleanup efforts could do more harm than good, he said.

Oil began flowing again this week through the 286-mile-long pipeline, which runs from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario. It had been out of service since the leak was detected July 26 near Marshall. The cause remains under investigation.

Pressure on the repaired pipeline is about 20 percent below normal and will remain so for months to come, said Steve Wuori, an executive vice president of Enbridge Ind., the Canadian company that owns the line.

About 760,000 gallons of crude have been captured, Durno said. Some of the rest remains in the environment, but much has evaporated or was contained in the 70,000 cubic yards of soil that was dug up and removed, he said.

In most cases, "you're lucky to get 30 percent of the oil from a spill collected," Durno said.

Replanted vegetation is growing nicely along the river and Talmadge Creek, the tributary into which the oil initially flowed, he said. Aside from a few faint stains on trees and boulders, visible signs of the spill are mostly gone, he said.

EPA has given Enbridge an Oct. 31 deadline to finish removing oil from about 20 locations along the river bottom. Aside from dredging and digging, teams are stirring the water and pumping in air to send oil to the surface where it can be vacuumed up.

The agency also ordered Enbridge to develop a long-term groundwater monitoring plan.

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality will oversee the restoration phase of the cleanup, which will include replanting trees and shrubs, plus water and soil sampling.

"Area residents should be aware that work will be ongoing for many months, if not years, until we are satisfied that all the criteria have been met," DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries said.

Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel said a dented 3,800-foot segment of pipeline that runs under the St. Clair River would be installed by mid-2011.

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Janet Yellen confirmed as Fed number two

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 | Finance News

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Senate has voted to confirm Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve vice chairman, the number two position at the powerful US central bank after Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Yellen, 63, who is currently president of the San Francisco Fed, was nominated in April by President Barack Obama.

Senators late Wednesday also confirmed the nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin as a Federal Reserve Board governor. She has been commissioner of financial regulation for the State of Maryland.

But Republican objections temporarily blocked the nomination as Fed governor of Peter Diamond, an author and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Yellen, who takes over from retiring Fed vice chairman Donald Kohn, is seen as a "dove" who is more sensitive to social issues and employment than the "hawks" who want to keep inflation in check.

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Report to say Waddell stoked flash crash: source

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 | Finance News

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A single trade by Waddell & Reed Financial Inc helped spark the cascade of market selling on May 6, said a source familiar with regulators' report on the so-called flash crash.

Waddell, which sold a large order of e-mini futures contracts during the plunge, will not be named in the report, according to the source, who requested anonymity because report has not been made public.

But the report will describe Waddell's trade as a single trade by an entity, the source said.

The May 6 crash sent the Dow Jones industrial average down some 700 points in a matter of minutes before sharply recovering -- an unprecedented breakdown that exposed deep flaws in the electronic marketplace now dominated by high-frequency trading.

Citing an internal exchange document, Reuters on May 14 reported that Waddell & Reed sold a large order of e-minis during the plunge -- identifying the firm that CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler had previously alluded to in congressional testimony.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission had been expected to release the much anticipated report before October.

But the report must win approval from the majority of the 10 SEC and CFTC commissioners. It is not clear whether all commissioners have had a chance to review the report with two of the SEC commissioners traveling.

Also the CFTC must clear some procedural hurdles so that they are allowed to release information about an investigation.

Top Democratic lawmakers will ask the SEC and CFTC for a copy of the report so that Congress can publicize the findings, a second source familiar with the matter said.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank will send such letters to the SEC and the CFTC later on Thursday, the source said.

(Editing by Gary Hill)

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