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News briefs

California Flood Death Toll Rises to 6

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES

Soggy Southern California awoke Thursday to a pre-dawn bang of thunder and hail, but the fourth day of rain soon subsided, giving storm-battered residents a chance to assess the deluge's grim toll and brace for the next pounding.

The number of dead rose to six as the body of 15-year-old Adam Bischoff of the suburban Woodland Hills neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley was pulled from the Los Angeles River. The death of a 63-year-old woman from Brea, Calif., who lost control of her car on a flooded Orange County road Wednesday night was also attributed to stormy conditions.

Searches continued for at least five others, including Lance Cpl. Jeffrey B. Johns, 22, a crew member of a U.S. Marine helicopter that went down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oxnard. Also missing were two experienced skiers feared buried in an avalanche at Mount Baldy in the San Bernardino mountains and two men believed to have disappeared in the Los Angeles and Santa Ana rivers.

Rescue teams again hunted for bodies in the debris-clogged delta of the Ventura River, which subsided after Wednesday's torrential flooding submerged the Ventura Beach RV Resort trailer park. All the residents had been accounted for, but one homeless man who made his camp in the riverbed drowned and officials were concerned that others may have perished.

By Thursday, the river was little more than a wide, mud-filled basin dotted with mattresses, lumber, food containers, and splintered trailers. A few dead carp and crawdads were left scattered in the ooze.

EPA to Allow Continued Use Of Controversial Fungicide

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it will permit farmers to continue using controversial fungicides, known as EBDCs, on 45 fruits and vegetables, contending that the cancer risk from long exposure to residues on food was minimal.

The announcement, which reverses a preliminary decision to ban use of the chemical on all but a handful of crops, was based in part on a study -- financed by chemical companies that make the fungicides -- showing that residue levels on harvested crops were essentially safe.

The EPA also said that new laboratory studies indicated that the active ingredient, ethylenebis (dithiocarbamate), is less potent in its cancer-causing properties than previously believed.

The chemical will continue to be banned on 11 other crops for which its risks outweigh its benefits.

The EPA's preliminary decision in December 1989 to ban most uses of EBDC immediately drew furious opposition from growers and pesticide manufacturers.

The chemicals, sold under such brand names as Mancozeb, Maneb, and Metiram, have been shown in laboratories to have significant cancer-causing properties.

But Reilly said the EPA now estimates that lifetime dietary exposure to the EBDC-treated foods would produce a one-in-a-million cancer risk -- what the agency regards as "negligible risk."

Environmentalists, who have waged a five-year fight to curb EBDC use, reacted with disappointment.

Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Erik D. Olson said the action "violates the federal law's ban on adding cancer-causing pesticides to foods and fails to protect the public from a clear and significant cancer risk."

Craig Merilees of the California Consumer Pesticide Project questioned the validity of the market-basket study since it was financed by the EBDC producers -- BASF Corp., the DuPont Co., Elf ATOCHEM North America, Inc., and Rhom and Haas Co.

In the market-basket study, a task force organized by the companies collected and analyzed more than 6,000 food samples. The result, the organization said Thursday, showed the potential consumer exposure to EBDCs through residues on foods to be "virtually non-existent."

Weather

Mixed Bouquet

By Marek Zebrowski
Staff Meteorologist

A short-lived clearing is forecast for Friday afternoon and night as a small area of high pressure passes over New England. Then, a low forming over the lower Ohio valley will begin moving eastward, bringing a variety of mixed precipitation to our area for late Saturday and into Sunday. Once again though, most of the precipitation seems destined to pass to the south of us, continuing our unusually dry winter weather pattern.

Friday afternoon: Partial clearing from west to east with a high of about 41F (5C). Northwesterly winds 8-15 mph (13-24 kph)

Friday night: Clear with diminishing winds. Some clouds advancing from the west towards dawn. Low around 28F (-2C) in town, and in the lower 20s (-4 to -6C) outside the metropolitan area.

Saturday and Saturday night: Thickening clouds throughout the day with onset of mixed precipitation around nightfall. Some snow will develop over the northern and central portions of our area, while locally, a mix of rain, sleet, and snow is expected. Highs around 40F (4C), lows around 34F (1C)

Sunday outlook: Clearing in the afternoon with highs in seasonable 30s (2-4C).