Business Briefs: Eastman says explosions at Tennessee chemical plant not a threat to environment

Business Briefs: Eastman says explosions at Tennessee chemical plant not a threat to environment

October 6th, 2017 by Staff and Wire Reports in Business Around the Region

Eastman says explosions no threat to environment

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The Eastman Chemical Co. said two coal gas explosions and a fire this week at its Tennessee chemical plant posed no threat to the environment or human health.

Eastman said there were no serious injuries Wednesday at its Kingsport manufacturing facility from the blasts and fire. Neighbors were warned to shelter in place as a big plume of smoky black pollution rose in the air, some for more than four hours.

Eastman chief legal officer David Golden said carbon monoxide and hydrogen were released, but those emissions were at concentrations that didn't threaten people's health or cause any long-term environmental impact.

Golden said Eastman is still investigating the cause.

 

Mitsubishi recalls cars over airbags

Mitsubishi is recalling 66,000 cars for a second time to replace faulty Takata front passenger air bag inflators.

The recall covers Lancer and Lancer Evolution models from 2004 through 2006.

The cars were recalled in 2015 and inflators were replaced with identical Takata parts.

Takata inflators use ammonium nitrate to cause a small explosion to inflate the bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to airborne moisture and high temperatures. It can burn too fast and explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel. Up to 19 people have died worldwide and more than 180 have been injured.

The recall starts Oct. 22.

 

Senate confirms Quarles to Federal Reserve Board

The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump's nomination of Randal Quarles to serve on the Federal Reserve, the first step in the Republican's efforts to remake the nation's powerful central bank.

Quarles, the head of a Salt Lake City-based investment firm, was approved on a 65-32 vote on Thursday. Senators, by a voice vote, then approved him to be vice chairman for supervision, a position that will give him critical input into GOP efforts to roll back what they see as the regulatory excesses of a 2010 law aimed at preventing a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

There are currently three vacancies on the Fed's seven-member board. So far, Quarles is the only nomination that Trump has made. As a candidate, Trump strongly criticized the Fed for following what he said were interest-rate policies that favored Democrats and for imposing burdensome rules on banks that he said had hurt the economic recovery.

Trump has given no indication of his final choices for the other Fed positions, but with all the vacancies, his nominees will have the power to remake Fed policy on interest rates and bank regulations. The Fed is the primary regulator for the largest U.S. banks.

 

Pennsylvania sues student loan provider

Pennsylvania's attorney general accused the nation's largest student loan company of engaging in abusive practices in a lawsuit filed Thursday that alleged it has improperly added billions of dollars in costs for borrowers.

The complaint in federal court in Harrisburg, Pa., said Navient Corp. and subsidiary Navient Solutions LLC sold "risky and expensive" subprime loans and damaged borrowers and co-signers by failing to perform core loan servicing duties.

"The evidence will likely show that (1) there has been a profound impact on the financial lives of borrowers who were sold risky subprime loans by the defendants, (2) many borrowers have had to delay starting a family, (3) many borrowers have been unable to save for the down payment on a home, and (4) others have not been able to start their own business," the lawsuit alleged.

It claims the companies funneled people into a program that added massive interest costs when they should have been directing them into repayment plans indexed to income.

A statement from Navient called the allegations completely unfounded and said it complies with federal rules for student loans.

The lawsuit accuses Navient of violating state and federal consumer protection laws and seeks a court order directing them to change practices, make restitution to borrowers and pay back any profits they made from the alleged practices.

 

Court nixes class-action suit against TGI Friday's

New Jersey's state Supreme Court has ruled a lawsuit accusing restaurant chain TGI Friday's of violating consumer fraud laws for charging different prices for the same drinks can't proceed as a class action.

Debra Dugan sued the chain after she was charged one price for a drink at the bar and a higher price at a table in 2008. The lawsuit also noted the restaurant didn't list drink prices on its menus.

A lower court had granted class-action status to anyone who ordered unpriced drinks at 14 company-owned New Jersey restaurants from 2004 through 2014.

Wednesday's 5-1 ruling upheld a reversal of that decision, though it said individual complaints could proceed.

 

Mortgage rates rise over tax cut plans

Long-term mortgage rates ticked up slightly this week as the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.85 percent from 3.83 percent a week ago.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the 15-year home loan, often used by homeowners who refinanced their mortgages, also rose slightly to 3.15 percent from 3.13.

While near historically low, mortgage rates are higher than they were a year ago. The increase reflects in part the expectation that President Donald Trump and the Republican majority Congress will approve tax cuts that are meant to stimulate growth and could possibly increase the deficit.

Rates on long-term home loans typically track the yield on 10-year Treasury notes.

Freddie Mac said the rate on adjustable five-year mortgages blipped up to 3.20 percent from 3.17 percent.


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