Monthly Archives: April 2015

Diesel prices increase for second straight week

The national average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel increased three cents in the week ending April 27, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly report.gas-price

The increase is the second in a row after prices jumped two cents last week. Before last week, diesel prices had dropped for five consecutive weeks. The U.S.’ average price is now $2.811, which is $1.164 lower than the same week last year.

Prices increased in all regions this week. New England saw the least significant increase, with prices only going up eight-tenths of a cent. The West Coast less California region saw the most significant increase of 6.9 cents.California has the country’s most expensive diesel at $3.156 per gallon, followed by the Central Atlantic region at $3.11. The country’s cheapest diesel is in the Gulf Coast region at $2.683 per gallon, followed by the Central Atlantic region at $2.691 per gallon.

Blue Bell listeria cause a mystery

HOUSTON — A massive recall has brought more attention and put more pressure on a century-old Texas ice cream company that has been searching to discover how its products became linked to a deadly string of listeria

Blue Bell Creameries said Tuesday, a day after recalling all its products, that it is getting closer to pinpointing the cause of the contamination. Amid those efforts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that the number of illnesses linked to the company’s products has increased to 10.

“As each day passes, we are getting closer and closer to figuring out how this listeria was introduced into our facilities. … It’s a matter of doing the work and not making excuses,” said Blue Bell spokesman Joe Robertson. He said consumers “are our No. 1 concern.”

The company said a team of microbiologists it hired is working with federal officials at its four facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama to identify the cause of the listeria. Blue Bell is also expanding its cleaning and sanitization system, beefing up its employee training, expanding its swabbing system by 800 percent to include more surfaces and is sending daily samples to a microbiology laboratory for testing.

Listeria primarily affects pregnant women and their newborns, older adults and people with immune systems weakened by cancer, cancer treatments, or other serious conditions. Two more illnesses have now been confirmed in Oklahoma and Arizona. The CDC had previously reported eight illnesses in Kansas and Texas, including three deaths in Kansas linked to ice cream contaminated with listeria. Those sickened fell ill between January 2010 and January 2015.

Dr. Robert Tauxe of the CDC said the cause of an outbreak is almost always dirty equipment. Listeria occurs naturally in soil and water, and it could be tracked into a plant on an employee’s shoes, introduced through animal feces or spread by employees not washing their hands. It can grow at room temperature or in cold temperatures. It can survive forever if it’s not cleaned up.

Blue Bell said its recall, involving about 8 million gallons of ice cream products, will take two to three weeks to complete and that it will be at least that long before products are back in stores. The recall includes ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks distributed in 23 states and abroad.

Monday’s recall extends to retail outlets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and international locations.

Dozens of Semi Trucks Involved In I-80 Wreck During Blinding Snow in Wyoming

A stretch of Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming, remained closed Friday morning, more than 15 hours after major wrecks involving dozens of semi trucks forced police to close it down.

Semi trucks are stacked against one another along I-80 in Wyoming.  (Wyoming Highway Patrol)
Blinding, blowing snow hit southern Wyoming Thursday, creating impossible driving conditions that police say likely led to a series of three wrecks along the interstate. More than 30 commercial vehicles and 12 passenger cars were involved.snow crash

No one was killed, but about a dozen people were hospitalized.

Photos show the semi trucks piled up on one another. WHP said it would take time to clear the vehicles off the road, and they urged anyone planning to drive through the area to check beforehand.

The system brought winter-like weather into the Rockies and High Plains Thursday into Friday, dusting the Denver foothills with a few inches of snow, and dumping at least 45 inches at Snowbird ski resort in Utah.

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Concrete haulers granted exemption to hours-of-service provisions; fireworks haulers request one

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last week granted an exemption to ready-mix concrete haulers from the agency’s 30-minute break requirement implemented in the 2013 hours-of-service changes.

Drivers operating under the exemption may use 30 minutes or more of “waiting time,” FMCSA says, to satisfy the 30-minute rest break requirement, so long as they do not work during the down period. Drivers must have a copy of the exemption document with them, and carriers using the exemption must have a safety rating of “Satisfactory” and have Safety Measurement System rankings in the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program above the intervention threshold. The exemption is good until April 3, 2017.

Fireworks haulers want exemption renewal
FMCSA also is considering an exemption for pyrotechnics haulers, as the American Pyrotechnics Association has petitioned the agency to grant drivers of its member companies the ability to drive beyond their 14th on-duty hour.

FMCSA is set to publish Tuesday, April 7 APA’s application for exemption, which requests exemptions only for its 55 member companies. The exemption would prevent off-duty and sleeper-berth time from counting toward a drivers’ 14 hours and would instead allow 14 hours in accumulated on-duty time.

Drivers would still not be allowed to drive beyond 11 accumulated hours.
Without the exemption, APA says, the cost of Independence Day fireworks shows around the country would be more costly and possibly even out of reach for some towns, as fireworks haulers would be required to hire co-drivers to assist. APA received a similar two-year exemption in 2013. The exemption would apply to roughly 3,200 drivers, APA says in its application.

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