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WalMart pleads guilty in hazardous waste case agrees to pay 81 million

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Wal-Mart pleads guilty in hazardous waste case, agrees to pay $81 million in fines by Paul Elias And Greg Risling, The Associated Press Posted May 28, 2013 3:07 pm MDT SAN FRANCISCO – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay $81.6 million after pleading guilty on Tuesday to criminal charges of improperly disposing of fertilizer, pesticides and other hazardous products that were pulled from stores in California and Missouri because of damaged packaging and other problems.The retail giant entered the plea in federal court in San Francisco to misdemeanour counts of violating the Clean Water Act and another environmental law regulating pesticides. The fine also settled Environmental Protection Agency allegations.In Kansas City, Mo., the company pleaded guilty to improperly handling pesticides.The plea agreements ended a nearly decade-old investigation involving more than 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental groups that has cost Wal-Mart a total of $110 million.Court documents show illegal dumping occurred in 16 California counties from Del Norte to Orange between 2003 and 2005. Federal prosecutors said the company didn’t train its employees on how to handle and dispose hazardous materials at its stores.The result, prosecutors say, was that waste was tossed into trash bins or poured into sewer systems. The waste also was improperly taken to one of several product return centres throughout the U.S. without proper safety documentation, authorities said.In 2010, the company agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle similar allegations made by California authorities that led to the overhaul of its hazardous waste compliance program nationwide.“By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides and other materials in violation of federal laws, Wal-Mart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department.Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company has fixed the problem and is “obviously happy that this is the final resolution.”She said employees are better trained on how to clean up, transport and dispose of dangerous products such as fertilizer that are spilled in a store or have packages damaged.Workers are armed with scanners that tell them whether a damaged package is considered to contain a hazardous material, she saidMoreno said the fines against Wall-Mart “will, in part, fund important environmental projects in the communities impacted by the violations and help prevent future harm to the environment.”The state investigation began eight years ago when a San Diego County health department employee saw a worker pouring bleach down a drain.In another instance, officials said a Solano County boy was found playing in a mound of fertilizer near the garden section of a Wal-Mart. The yellow-tinted powder contained ammonium sulfate, a chemical compound that causes irritation to eyes, skin and the respiratory tract.. read more

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Studentmade app aims to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual and

Tackling any task can often be made easier by focusing on one step at a time.Brock student researchers have used this logic to develop an app meant to improve quality of living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs).StepByStep Tasks was launched by Computer Science students Javon Luke and Tianyuan Zhang, under the guidance of Senior Lab Demonstrator and Co-ordinator Poling Bork. The app, through which Luke and Zhang have been working with staff and clients of Community Living Haldimand, is part of a study aimed at increasing the community participation and independence of people living with IDDs.The project is a collaborative effort that began with Bork consulting with Associate Professor Kimberly Maich in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Bork then connected Luke and Zhang with PhD student Courtney Bishop and Associate Professor Tricia Vause, both in Brock’s Department of Child and Youth Studies, Assistant Professor Priscilla Burnham-Riosa, in the Department of Applied Disability Studies, and stakeholders from Community Living Haldimand.An under-represented community, individuals with IDDs account for one to two per cent of the population. Many people with IDDs not only struggle with a wide range of limitations, including difficulties with perceptual reasoning and verbal comprehension, but are also at a higher risk for social exclusion than their non-disabled peers.The StepByStep Tasks app provides a variety of prompting options on how to complete a task. Prompts provide visual and/or audio assistance to help users understand each step and can be modified to meet the individual needs of the user.These individuals often rely on assistance from support workers to complete everyday tasks and errands. By introducing the app, the team hopes to make significant contributions to improving the quality of life for many.Just as its name suggests, the StepByStep Tasks app instructs users on how to complete a task, one step at a time.Instructions can be presented through a variety of audio and visual prompts, with options ranging from instructional videos (most prompting) all the way to simple text instructions (least prompting). The amount of prompting, however, is completely up to the user and their specific needs.Customizability allows for users to modify the format in which they receive each instruction. For example, if someone was interested in learning how to do laundry, they could start off with a video accompanied by audio or text that explains how to complete each step from start to finish. As the user gains confidence in their abilities, they can begin fading out the amount of assistance they receive at each step. They can go from requiring a video or picture to completing that step independently.The hope is that users can eventually learn to complete the entire task with little to no prompting.Before introducing the app to users, the research team had to first teach Community Living support staff how it works. Through a behavioural skills training program, staff are taught how to properly use the app, set up tasks and fade their support using principles of applied behaviour analysis.They then work with the individual to identify skills to focus on and compile a list of tasks. Once the tasks and steps have been uploaded, staff provide a demonstration and explanation of the app to the individual. Staff participants then use most-to-least prompting to fade their own supports.“It’s working really well,” Bishop said when asked about the results the team has received. “When we first started, people were needing anywhere from 60 to 100 per cent support from their staff and we’re now seeing many of those drop down to zero.”Over the course of the year, the research team will grow the app’s user base by introducing more participants into the study. Currently, 12 people are actively using the technology. That number will nearly triple to a total of 35 by the end of the project’s second phase in April 2020.Unparalleled in its ability to fade levels of prompting, members of the developmental services field are growing increasingly interested in the app and how it can be implemented into their work. With such an opportunity to grow, StepByStep Tasks is now available for free in the Apple App Store.“None of this would be possible without the help we received from the Department of Computer Science and Poling Bork,” Luke said. “She came up with the idea for the app and played a vital role in this project by connecting Tianyuan and I with Courtney and Community Living Haldimand.”Bork also met regularly with the students and representatives from Community Living to ensure the initiative was on track.“It brings me great pride to see students from our Faculty making a difference in the community,” said Ejaz Ahmed, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Science. “I applaud their efforts and would like to thank Poling Bork for guiding them through this endeavour.”Bork specializes in serious games — video games that are designed for more than pure entertainment, with intended purposes such as intervention or education. She has guided more than 30 Computer Science undergraduate students in the development of innovative therapeutic video games.“She continues to be very active in getting our students involved as participants in real-world programming applications,” said Brian Ross, Chair of Brock’s Department of Computer Science. “Her doctoral expertise in education means she has many network connections with faculty and community partners who are in need of applications like StepByStep Tasks. Not only do the ends users benefit, but also our Computer Science students gain invaluable experience in app development.”Later this month, Luke and Zhang will further promote their work as they attend Connect 2019, Canada’s largest educational technology conference. The pair will provide demonstrations and discuss the process they took to develop the app with fellow conference delegates.“This was my first time developing an IOS app,” Zhang said. “I learned a lot from my role in this project and am very excited to speak to people about our experiences.” read more