safety

Chion Wolf

Squaring growing demand for locally grown food with new national farm regulations has been a point of frustration for many in agriculture and farm officials from around the northeast are meeting in New Haven this week to talk about it.

Many investigators say Positive Train Control (PTC), an automated safety system, could have prevented last month's Amtrak train derailment. Amtrak officials have said they will have PTC installed throughout the northeast corridor by the end of this year, which is the deadline mandated by Congress.

But the vast majority of other commuter railroad systems, which provided nearly 500 million rides in 2014, won't be able to fully implement positive train control for several more years.

Hartford Police Department

Recent violence in the city of Hartford left five people dead in the month of May alone, and Mayor Pedro Segarra is dealing with a problem of both public safety and politics. 

The Department of Defense says an attempt to ship inactive anthrax samples resulted in live samples being sent to labs in nine U.S. states and to a U.S. Air Force base in South Korea.

Fears of exposure to the potentially deadly disease prompted officials to advise four civilian workers to get preventive care; more than 20 military personnel are also being monitored. The samples were sent via commercial shipping companies, but the Pentagon says there is "no known risk to the general public."

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If you’ve been to any public school lately, chances are you weren’t able to just walk right in. You have to ring a bell, then you’re either buzzed in or greeted by a security guard or school employee.

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Does firefighting cause cancer? That's a question at the heart of a bill at the state legislature that would make it easier for firefighters who have certain cancers to get workers comp benefits. 

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The recent derailment of an Amtrak passenger train in Philadelphia has brought attention across the northeast to safety on the rail lines. A computerized system to slow or stop trains automatically, called Positive Train Control, could help avoid accidents like this in the future.

The Safety of Rail Travel Across the Northeast

May 18, 2015
Mark Llanuza / f

Train ridership is higher in the northeast than anywhere else in the U.S. Last year on Amtrak alone, nearly 12 million people rode the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Despite so much riding on the reliability of trains, government and industries responsible for maintaining the rail system have been slow to make crucial safety improvements.

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

The Federal Railroad Administration on Saturday issued a directive to Amtrak aimed at improving safety in the wake of the derailment of a passenger train in Philadelphia this week that killed eight people and injured more than 200.

"We are continuing to work with the [National Transportation Safety Board] to understand exactly what happened on Tuesday so we can prevent this type of devastating accident from ever happening again," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement released Saturday.

National Transportation Safety Board

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling on Congress to invest more in the nation's transportation infrastructure, including the implementation of positive train control on most rail lines.

One key safety feature was missing from the stretch of track where an Amtrak passenger train going more than 100 mph derailed and killed seven people.

Investigators say that if positive train control had been installed on that stretch, the technology could have automatically slowed the train and perhaps saved lives.

NPR's David Schaper tells our Newscast unit that Amtrak and other railroads are behind schedule in rolling out the technology.

He filed this report:

The engineer of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 that was traveling at 106 mph in a 50-mph zone in Philadelphia applied the full emergency braking system moments before the derailment that claimed seven lives and caused dozens of injuries, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

Patrick Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The president of Metro-North Railroad is telling Connecticut lawmakers how the commuter line is making progress toward improving its safety and reliability. 

The European Union has presented a proposal to the United Nations aiming to stem the flood of migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Europe. The plan includes seizing and destroying the boats that smugglers are using to transport the migrants across the Mediterranean Sea. The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, briefed the U.N. Security Council on the proposal Monday morning. "We need to count on your support to save lives," Mogherini told council members.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says part of the Indian Point nuclear power plant remains offline after a transformer fire that has created another problem: potentially thousands of gallons of oil leaking into the Hudson River.

A transformer fire Saturday triggered the automatic shutdown of Unit 3 at the Indian Point nuclear power plant. A spokesman for plant owner Entergy says the fire was put out by both a sprinkler system and on-site personnel.

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The legislature is considering a bill that would regulate how homeowners display their house numbers.

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A young bear that chased two runners in Granby's McLean Game Refuge on Monday has been euthanized. Officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are hoping a necropsy will give them clues about the bears unusually aggressive behavior. One test result late Wednesday showed the bear did not have rabies.

The owners of apartment buildings in Holyoke that are deemed to be “hot spots” for criminal activity will receive letters warning they must develop a security plan in collaboration with the local police or risk losing the building to receivership and possibly face criminal charges.

At a Holyoke City Hall press conference Monday, Mayor Alex Morse and Police Chief James Neiswanger held up a letter printed on red paper stock that was sent to the owner of a 40-unit apartment building where police were called more than 250 times in a six- month period last year. 

Officials at SkyWest Airlines and federal authorities say they still don't know what caused three passengers to lose consciousness on a flight that then made an emergency landing in Buffalo Wednesday. Earlier, the airline said one passenger was affected.

The SkyWest plane, operating as United Express flight #5622, was flying from Chicago's O'Hare airport to Hartford, Connecticut with 75 passengers on board.

Some passengers say part way into the flight, they started having trouble breathing, and felt dizzy and nauseous.

Nearly a million people will line the streets to watch the Boston Marathon on Monday, and someone else will be watching them. Bill Ridge with the Boston Police says video surveillance is a big part of the security plan.

"We've got a lot of cameras out there," he says. "We're going to be watching the portions in Boston — particularly the routes along Boylston Street, the finish line."

Updated at 8:10 p.m. EDT

The U.S. Capitol Police have confirmed that Douglas Mark Hughes of Ruskin, Fla. was the pilot who landed a gyrocopter not far from the capitol building.

Police searched the vehicle, saying "nothing hazardous" was found. The gyrocopter was relocated to a secure location, the department said in a statement.

Shortly after landing, Hughes was quickly named by friends and news outlets as the man who flew low over the reflecting pool to land near the Congressional buildings. He was met by police with their guns drawn.

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's inspector general said Metro-North maintenance crews get little or no supervision and fail to document their work.

A Connecticut man whose young son died after he left him inside a car on a hot day last summer has been spared prison time.

State investigators have cited the Hartford Fire Department for serious violations found during an investigation of a blaze that killed a city firefighter in October. City fire officials said Thursday that the department received citations from the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Updated at 1:13 a.m. ET

German prosecutors say the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane who crashed the aircraft into the French Alps on March 24 apparently used his tablet computer to search the Internet for ways to commit suicide and for the safety features of cockpit doors. Separately, French prosecutors say the second black box of Flight 4U 9525 has been recovered.

Top executives of Lufthansa and Germanwings airlines visited the site of last week's plane crash that killed 150 people. Speaking with reporters, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr did not respond to questions about the co-pilot's medical history.

Spohr said that while his airline is learning more about the crash, "it will take a long time for all of us to understand" how the tragedy occurred.

From Berlin, Esme Nicholson filed this report for our Newscast desk:

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who appears to have deliberately crashed his aircraft into the French Alps last week, had informed Lufthansa in 2009 of a "serious depressive episode," the German airline said in a statement.

Lufthansa says a note about a "previous depressive episode" was found in email Lubitz apparently sent to the Lufthansa flight school when he resumed his training after a months-long interruption.

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET.

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed in the French Alps last week with 150 passengers on board, received treatment for suicidal tendencies for several years before he became a pilot, a German prosecutor says.

Christoph Kumpa, a spokesman for Duesseldorf investigators, says Lubitz "had been in treatment of a psychotherapist because of what is documented as being suicidal at that time."

A car that was intercepted near the security gate of the National Security Agency's headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., was fired upon Monday morning, in a clash that left one of the car's occupants dead.

Authorities tell NPR's Dina Temple-Raston that after two suspects tried to ram a vehicle into the entrance gate, one suspect was shot dead and the other was injured by NSA security guards.

The violence took place in Anne Arundel County, where officials say the investigation is being handled by NSA police. Fort Meade lies between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md.

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