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Tuesday PM February 8th, 2011

Mont Belvieu fire…Sierra Club seeks to join justice dept lawsuit against BP…FDA seeks to speed approval of innovative medical devices…



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Flames shot about 100 feet into the air at a burning natural gas liquids plant about 35 miles east of Houston. The fire began around 12:15 this afternoon at the Enterprise Products plant in Mont Belvieu. The fire sent an orange plume of flame and heavy black smoke into the sky that could be seen for miles. Enterprise spokesman Rick Rainey.

“We had a failure of some time on one of our pipelines that is connected to what’s called our West Storage Facility at the Mont Belvieu complex. What this facility does is essentially store natural gas liquids.”

At least one contract worker is reported unaccounted for. Authorities say the fire will be allowed to burn itself out. The fire was believed fueled by liquefied petroleum gas.

The Sierra Club is seeking to join a Justice Department lawsuit against BP over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The environmental group filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in New Orleans yesterday. It says it wants to make sure money from BP fines goes to restoring the Gulf Coast. The Obama Administration sued BP in December. It’s seeking to impose fines of up to $21 billion under the Clean Water Act, as well as to recoup a further $75 million in costs and damages under the Oil Pollution Act.

Federal health officials have proposed a plan that would speed up the approval of innovative medical devices that hold the potential to dramatically improve patients’ lives. The so-called Innovation Pathway from the Food and Drug Administration would aim to review first-of-a-kind devices in five months, which is half the time currently spent reviewing most new devices. Medical device executives say it takes the FDA about twice as long to review new devices as their counterparts in the European Union, according to an industry survey released last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The FDA said an innovative prosthetic arm developed by the Department of Defense would be the first device to use the new system.

Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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