Utility: Water safe after ash deluge

HARRIMAN, Tenn. - Environmentalists worry that ash-laden sludge that coated a Tennessee neighborhood after a power-plant dike burst could pose a health risk, though initial tests by a public utility company showed no threat to drinking water.

Crews were expected to work through the holiday weekend to contain the aftermath of Monday's breach at the coal-fired Kingston power plant, run by the nation's largest public utility about 50 miles west of Knoxville.

Officials at the Tennessee Valley Authority have said preliminary tests suggest no danger to millions of people who get their drinking water from the 652-mile Tennessee River. TVA spokesman Gil Francis said crews were cleaning up the sludge, work that he said would take four to six weeks. Environmentalists have blasted the TVA for what they say was something completely avoidable.

- AP

S.F. airport offers carbon offsets

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco International Airport is planning to give guilt-ridden travelers a chance to offset the air pollution emitted from their plane rides.

The airport says it will set up kiosks so travelers can buy certified carbon offsets. A pilot program is to begin this spring.

Travelers will enter their destination; the kiosk will calculate the amount of carbon dioxide for which they are responsible and the cost of offsetting it. After inserting their credit cards, they would get a receipt specifying the carbon-reducing projects their money went to.

The program is not the only option for travelers. Delta Air Lines offers its customers an opportunity to buy carbon offsets on its Web site.

- AP

Car crashes into Hanukkah party

WOODMERE, N.Y. - A car plowed into a building where Orthodox Jewish families were celebrating Hanukkah yesterday, injuring 14 people, at least six of them young children, police said.

The Long Island families who belong to the Chabad Orthodox Jewish movement were celebrating Hanukkah Wonderland, an all-day celebration. About 150 people were in the building when a 78-year-old man lost control of his car and it broke through a plate-glass window about 2:45 p.m., police said.

Police said the injured ranged in from 11/2 to 40, and four were in serious condition. No charges had been filed against the driver last evening, police said.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Prosecutors urged

an appeals court this week to get on with the corruption trial of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D., La.), saying his appeal to the Supreme Court did not have enough chance of success to justify further delays. The government brought charges 18 months ago against the nine-term lawmaker, recently voted out of office.

Alaska authorities said

the mother of Bristol Palin's boyfriend sent text messages to two police informants discussing drug transactions before her arrest on felony drug charges. An affidavit Monday said Sherry L. Johnston, 42, sent text messages referring to "coffee" as a code for OxyContin. Johnston, who is out on bail, is the mother of Levi Johnston, 18, the father of the child that Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter is expecting.