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Explosion at FBI training facility in Irvine leaves 16 injured

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Sixteen members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team were injured Wednesday afternoon in an explosion at an FBI training facility in Irvine, according to authorities.

The explosion occurred around 1 p.m. in a small building at the Jerry Crowe Regional Tactical Training Facility, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Gonzalez.

The SWAT team was conducting its annual joint training with a bomb squad at the time, he said. The FBI wasn’t involved and had lent them the facility for the exercise.

Fifteen people were taken to local hospitals. One person sustained a leg injury that will require surgery but is not life-threatening. Two others have superficial wounds, including back and leg injuries. The 13 other people went to the hospital as a precaution because of dizziness and ringing in their ears, but many have already been discharged.

Gonzalez didn’t have more information about what could have caused the explosion.

“That’s gonna be part of the investigation,” he said. “Trying to figure out exactly why that happened.”

The Sheriff’s Department and the FBI are investigating the incident.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this article.

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Alaska Ambler Road Project Denied by Interior Department

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The decision by the Interior Department to reject the Ambler Road Project in Alaska is a significant win for environmentalists and conservationists who have been fighting against the construction of a 211-mile industrial road through the fragile Alaskan wilderness. This decision, expected to be formally announced later this year, highlights the Biden administration’s commitment to conservation and climate protection in a crucial election year.

The proposed road, part of the Ambler Access Project, was intended to provide access to a $7.5 billion copper deposit located beneath ecologically sensitive land. However, the potential environmental impact of the road on wildlife and Alaska Native tribes, who rely on hunting and fishing, has been a major point of contention for opponents of the project.

The Interior Department’s decision to block the construction of the industrial road is a significant victory for those who have been advocating for the protection of the wilderness around the Ambler area. David Krause, the interim executive director of the National Audubon Society’s Alaska office, emphasized the importance of preserving the ecologically-intact landscape, stating that it is a “huge deal.”

The road, as proposed, would have traversed through the Brooks Range foothills and the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, impacting wildlife habitat, salmon spawning grounds, and the hunting and fishing traditions of over 30 Alaska Native communities. The Interior Department’s final analysis is expected to conclude that any version of an industrial road would have a “significant and irrevocable” negative impact on the environment and tribal communities.

Ambler Metals, the mining venture behind the project, expressed disappointment at the decision, calling it “an unlawful and politically motivated decision” that ignores the support of local communities for the project. The company argued that the road was essential for creating jobs for Alaskans and generating critical revenues for the region.

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The Trump administration had previously approved a right of way permit for the Ambler Road in 2020, but Interior Secretary Deb Haaland ordered a new analysis of the project’s environmental impact upon taking office. The draft review by her agency identified significant deficiencies in the previous study, highlighting the potential impact on local communities, wildlife, and permafrost stability.

While the rejection of the Ambler Road Project may draw backlash from Alaska’s political leaders who support the project, it underscores the Biden administration’s commitment to balancing clean energy development with conservation efforts. The decision to protect the Alaskan wilderness from industrial development reflects a broader push towards environmentally sustainable practices and climate action.

In conclusion, the Interior Department’s rejection of the Ambler Road Project is a significant milestone in the ongoing battle to protect fragile ecosystems and indigenous communities from harmful industrial development. This decision sends a powerful message about the importance of environmental conservation and the need to prioritize the preservation of wilderness areas for future generations.

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