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first_imgThe bill by Sen. Nell Soto, D-Ontario, would have allowed state health officials to give greater weight to health effects in setting drinking-water standards. But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the measure, Senate Bill 187, “ignores the necessity to consider economic and technological feasibility” when adopting those standards. State law enforces maximum contaminant levels in drinking water but cannot tighten those without measuring the public health benefits against the costs, Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “Although I support the intent of SB 187 to protect the public’s drinking water supply, the bill ignores the deliberative scientific process that must be part of the development of any drinking water standard,” the statement said. Soto countered in a statement that the governor in his veto “has chosen to help polluters instead of protecting the public health.” “His claim that SB 187 `ignores the deliberative scientific process’ for developing drinking water standards is nonsense, when in fact my bill sought to add science to a process that currently gives too much weight to the economics of cleanup. “And the governor’s rejection of SB 187 is a blow to the communities that have groundwater contaminated with perchlorate, such as Rialto, Morgan Hill and Santa Clarita.” In an earlier interview, Soto said she hoped the governor would sign the bill. She wasn’t surprised that Whittaker had opposed it, calling the company “principally responsible” for the contamination being cleaned up in Santa Clarita. SB 187 would have made minor changes in the process used for developing drinking water standards. The changes would be options, not mandates, that the Department of Health Services and a branch of the California Environmental Protection Agency would follow. In his Sept. 6 letter to Schwarzenegger, Whittaker-Bermite attorney Eric Lardiere’s called Soto’s bill costly and “premature and burdensome” to industry. The Assembly approved SB 187 on a vote of 46-31 on Aug. 23, and the Senate, 29-11, six days later.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESurfer attacked by shark near Channel Islands calls rescue a ‘Christmas miracle’center_img The governor vetoed a bill this week that would have allowed the state Department of Health Services to tighten standards for perchlorate and other chemicals in drinking water. The veto came late Thursday, three weeks after attorneys for Whittaker-Bermite, owners of a 996-acre contaminated site in Saugus, urged it. Four wells used for drinking water in the Santa Clarita Valley have been shut down because of high levels of perchlorate, a rocket fuel residue that scientists believe leached into the groundwater from decades of defense testing at Bermite. Perchlorate has been linked to thyroid disorders. last_img

first_imgJanine ErasmusSouth Africa’s Eastern Cape region has been described as the crucible of modern South African history and identity. The eastern part of the province, where the former black homelands of Ciskei and Transkei were located in the 1970s and 80s, has inherited a legacy of under-development as a result of the so-called independent status foisted upon them by the apartheid government during the homeland phase. But that is about to change.The area is to receive a much-needed boost with the re-opening of the rail route that runs between the port city of East London, and Mthatha, 235 km to the northeast. Both freight and passenger services on the 281-km stretch of line came to a halt in 1988, as the route was carrying less than 400 000 tons of freight a year and came to be regarded as low-density.Kei Rail received its operating licence on 5 February 2008 from the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR). Both passenger and freight services will be offered; 1 March has been officially named as the starting date of the Kei Rail passenger service while freight services will commence later in the year. It is hoped that the latter will reduce the high levels of heavy-duty traffic on the road between the two towns, thus cutting down on the costs of road maintenance and repair.The resurrection of the route is expected to “lay a firm foundation for future economic expansion in the impoverished eastern half of the province”, says Eastern Cape Member of the Executive Council for Safety, Liaison and Transport, Thobile Mhlahlo.A passenger service between East London and nearby King Williams Town is also expected to commence before the end of March 2008.“This is a great day for the people of the Eastern Cape,” said Mhlahlo. “They will now have a safe and reliable transport option in an area with limited options. The revival of the Kei Rail line, which has lain dormant for many years, has been a focus of the Department of Roads and Transport for some time now. ”Rich in historyThe railway between East London and Mthatha dates back to 1916. The re-opening of the long-dormant route is only one component of a wider socio-economic initiative of the Eastern Cape provincial government intended to increase economic activity and job creation and alleviate poverty in one of South Africa’s poorest, yet most historically rich, provinces.Mthatha, in the OR Tambo municipality, was previously known as Umtata, and between 1976 and 1994 was the capital of the former black homeland of Transkei.Statistics reveal that 88% of the households in this area live below minimum poverty level, and 77% of the economically active population is unemployed. A massive 93.3% of inhabitants live in rural conditions.Many prominent South African leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu hail from this part of the province. The Nelson Mandela National Museum, situated in Mthatha, is visited by thousands of local and international tourists every year. Development of a better public transport route to the town is expected to attract even more tourists.Great economic potentialThe area has never been allowed to reach its full economic potential. The Glen Grey Act of 1894, which was driven by mining magnate Cecil John Rhodes, took away the land rights of the indigenous people in certain areas and pushed them into reserves, leaving the way open for industrial development and exploitation of the lands which were historically theirs.The Glen Grey Act, and other legislation such as the Land Act of 1913, which limited land ownership for black people to black territories, as well as the so-called land betterment schemes, had a profound effect on the region. These schemes effectively stifled traditional African techniques of agriculture and animal husbandry that, in hindsight, were better adapted to local soil and climatic conditions than the government-initiated strategies that replaced them.In addition, the railway line, once established, took resources away from the area. With limited opportunities to earn a living, workers were forced to seek jobs further afield. Many of them left the area to take up employment in the mines in Johannesburg. Agricultural and mineral produce was shipped out, destined for bigger markets.Eventually the economy of the area became so stagnant that the decision was taken to close the passenger and freight services.Transport is a developmental priorityDeteriorating transport infrastructure has also played a role in the depressed economy of the region because of limited access to markets and labour. The Eastern Cape provincial government has identified transport as a vital component in economic growth. It has accordingly earmarked R1.48 billion to improving transport infrastructure as part of its 10-year provincial growth and development plan, which is designed to reduce poverty and attain sustainable levels of economic growth and job creation.The timber industry, in particular, will benefit from the resumption of rail services – it is estimated that more than 2.4 tons of timber will travel on Kei Rail over the next 20 years. A strong transportation network will facilitate the movement of timber products to foreign markets. The improvements to the East London-Mthatha line will also benefit the agricultural industry, with the shipping of 1.4 million tons of grain and 500 000 tons each of red meat and wool. Additionally, 200 000 tons each of fertiliser, lime and fuel are forecast.Phasing in the serviceLaunched in 2003, the R117 million Kei Rail project created jobs for more than 500 skilled and semi-skilled people in the initial phase and to date has afforded more than 1 400 people the chance of employment. The Eastern Cape government envisions the creation of 28 000 jobs over the next 20 years through the project.Initially the train will run on weekends only, and during the day – because pedestrians have become used to the empty rails and they are often found walking on the line. So for safety purposes the train will only operate when it is most visible.The Department of Roads and Transport also conducted an awareness programme to inform people of the dangers of an operational railway line. This took the form of a poster campaign and a radio and print advertising campaign, as well as flyers and visits to communities along the line. Learners participated in a colouring-in competition, and industrial theatre visits were arranged for schools in Butterworth, Komga, Dutywa and Viedgesville – these communities are situated along the railway line.Railway police to ensure commuters’ safetyA related initiative of the Eastern Cape provincial government is the launch of the Eastern Cape Railway Police Unit, in collaboration with the South African Police Services and Metrorail. The launch took place on 11 February and forms part of the provincial government’s Safety and Security Month programme. The unit aims to be 1 000-strong by 2010 to ensure the safety of commuters who will be visiting the Eastern Cape to watch matches during the Fifa World Cup.Said Mhlahlo at the launch, “Today we are making history as the province of the Eastern Cape by reintroducing strong security measures that guarantee the safety of our people when they use trains.“Our main objective is to have a law enforcement contingent, which is founded on democratic values and observance of human rights, which are matched by issues of development, cooperation and peace. The new unit’s duty is to provide a security service to the people who use the trains.”The numbers of the Railway Police Unit will soon be swelled with the deployment in December 2008 of 215 student constables, currently enrolled at the Police Training College in Bhisho, the capital of the Eastern Cape.Rail services in South Africa have experienced high levels of crime in recent years, but with the new Railway Police Unit on patrol the government hopes to restore the confidence of citizens in the rail service, easing the daily traffic congestion on the roads.Partners in the Kei Rail resuscitation project include the Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Transport, Sheltam Grindrod, the South African Rail Commuter Corporation (Metrorail), Transnet Freight Rail, and Rail Focus.Useful linksKei RailEastern Cape Department of Roads and TransportEastern Cape Provincial GovernmentBuffalo City municipalityOR Tambo district municipalityMetrorailTransnetSouth African Police ServicesThe Construction Education and Training AuthorityStatistics South Africa onlinelast_img read more

first_imgNew employee monitoring tools regularly emerge that allow retail organizations to keep a closer eye on employees. What is your sense of these products? Does technology-based employee monitoring reduce misconduct? Does it dampen or enhance worker productivity?Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology examined these questions by analyzing two years’ worth of employee theft and sales transactions at 392 restaurants in 38 US states.Restaurant servers can steal from their employers and customers in many ways, including voiding and “comping” sales after they pocket customers’ cash payments. Transactional monitoring software, such as NCR Corporation’s Restaurant Guard, attempts to alert managers to egregious examples of such actions via frequent reports.- Sponsor – An obviously important question for loss prevention practitioners is whether such monitoring reduces internal theft.On that criterion, the researchers found that the monitoring product worked: “Our empirical models identify a 22 percent (or $24 per week) decrease in identifiable theft after the implementation of IT monitoring. This treatment effect is persistent, with the magnitude growing from $7 in the first month to $48 in the third month,” according to the MIT Sloan research paper, Cleaning House: The Impact of Information Technology Monitoring on Employee Theft and Productivity (2013).Although the amount seems modest, the effect on total revenue seemed to be much larger, said researchers. Following implementation of Restaurant Guard, total revenue increased by $2,975 per week, or about 7 percent of revenue for the average location.The results suggested “either a considerable increase in employee productivity or a much larger latent theft being eliminated by the IT product,” concluded the study. Additionally, implementation of Restaurant Guard increased drink sales—the primary source of theft—by $927 per week, or 10.5 percent.Finally, researchers also observed an increase in average tip levels, suggesting that the implementation of monitoring technology improved the level of customer service provided by restaurant servers. Although the exact reason why is unclear, the researchers think that waiters’ level of service probably drops when they are “multitasking” between stealing and serving customers.So, the employee monitoring technology proved to be effective in reducing theft—but researchers also wanted to answer the following question: Did the reduction in theft result primarily from changing worker behavior or instead result from more honest workers replacing less honest ones?In other words, did dishonest employees quit when they couldn’t steal as freely, to be replaced by more honest workers?No, said researchers. “Individual worker models show that our restaurant-level model results can be explained by employees changing their behavior, as opposed to a change in the group of employees working at the restaurant,” the study concluded. Indeed, the researchers found that employee attrition dropped significantly following IT monitoring implementation.The researchers state their findings are important for expanding what is known about the impact of technology on worker productivity: “Other studies show that IT can improve productivity by reducing mild forms of misconduct such as shirking and absenteeism. [This] is the first to show both the direct impact in reducing explicitly illegal behavior such as theft as well as the secondary effect of incentivizing increased productivity.”This post was originally published in 2017 and was updated October 2, 2018. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more