tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS September 30, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
>> pelley: heavy rain and flooding hit the east coast. and it could be just the beginning. hurricane joaquin is on the way. also tonight, the world just got more dangerous with u.s. and russian warplanes in the same skies on opposite sides. refinery disasters, the one that happened and the bigger one that almost did. and a way of life is coming to an end for the gladesmen. >> my grandfather used to take me out here when i was a kid. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: this is our western edition. have a look at the rain in maine. cars up to their gas caps, a storm system is whipping up scenes just like this all the way from florida to new england.
it's likely to get worse with hurricane joaquin now threatening the east coast. chip reid is in virginia where an emergency has been declared. >> reporter: sheets of driving rain pummeled the northeast wednesday. a half foot of rain fell in some areas. it came down in buckets, almost literally. the streets of downtown portland, maine, flooded dramatically, though the waters quickly receded. >> this is insane. it looks more like rapids. it's unbelievable. >> reporter: rush hour was a slog in providence, rhode island. some cars ended up with about as much water inside as out. the system, which drenched coastal alabama and florida over the weekend and hit virginia and the mid-atlantic yesterday has now pretty much moved into canada. but the ground here is now well saturated, a date with hurricane joaquin next week could bring much more serious flooding. >> you know this is ground zero.
>> reporter: george stables run a charter boat company in alexandria in virginia. he remembers the damage hurricane isabel did. >> we can handle a storm surge. we can't handle 70, 80, 90 mph winds. >> reporter: it doesn't take much for the potomac river, which you see behind me, to overflow its banks. back in 2003 where i'm standing was under ten feet of water and dozens of homes and businesses were flooded. scott, you can imagine people around here are hoping it doesn't turn out that way this time around. >> pelley: chip reid, thanks. now with the latest on the hurricane, we turn to lonnie quinn, the chief weather caster of our cbs new york station, wcbs. lonnie, what do we know? >> reporter: we're talking about some big changes, not so much in the intensity but definitely the track. according to the national hurricane center, a category one, 85 mph, 96 mph winds is a cat two. that's what they think is going to happen. the track will push off west,
moving toward the bahamas. then it turns to the north, big push to the north, becoming a category three. that's a major hurricane, a three, four, five. that's bad news. then it makes a turn inland, makes landfall we believe somewhere from south carolina border up to possibly delaware or so with the highest probability around the outer banks. if you take a look as that storm sets up around the outer banks. if you're thinking we're north of, that we live in philadelphia, new york city, we don't have a problem, i disagree with that. i think you do have a problem because if it's south of you, counter-clockwise spin around a storm picks up water and pushes it along those shorelines, so i think flooding will be a problem with this one, scott, even if you're not right where the eye of the hurricane makes landfall. >> pelley: we already have all these rainstorms. now we have a hurricane coming in behind them. what's the combined effect likely to be? >> reporter: i keep using the saying, it's footprints on top of footprints on top of footprints. today roanoke, virginia, picked up five inches of rain. tomorrow they pick up one, two, three inches of rain, maybe a
little more. by saturday and sunday you look at the hurricane moving into that area with a lot of rain, so flooding will be a problem with this one, scott. >> pelley: lonnie quinn, wcbs, thank you, lonnie. >> you got it. >> pelley: today the stakes shot up in the worst war in the world. russia joined the fighting in syria. now russia and american planes are on opposite sides. syria is run by dictator bashar al assad. four years ago rebels rose up against him. now a quarter million have died. 12 million have fled. the chaos has spawned the refugee crisis in europe and the isis terrorist regime, which now holds one-third of syria and iraq. the u.s. is bombing isis. david martin tells us who russia is fighting for. >> reporter: the pentagon counted eight russian aircraft attacking two areas in western syria, well away from where u.s.
aircraft normally operate, but also well away from territory controlled by isis. the targets, which russia said were weapons, ammunition and other military equipment belonging to terrorists, were in areas controlled by groups fighting to overthrow the regime of bashar al assad. in other words, russia is not joining the u.s. in the fight against isis but instead intervening on the side of assad, a brutal dictator president obama has repeatedly said must go. defense secretary carter said it amounts to throwing gasoline on a fire. >> the result of this kind of action will inevitably simply be to inflame the civil war in syria. >> reporter: carter was also miffed by the way russia notified the u.s. of the strikes, one hour ahead of time, a russian general walked up to the u.s. embassy in baghdad and announced russian aircraft were about to begin flying over syria and american warplanes should stay away. >> this is not the kind of behavior that we should expect professionally.
>> reporter: the u.s. did not change its flight plans, but the two sides have begun talks on setting up procedures for making sure their planes don't run into each other. that was not a problem today but it could become one if the russian aircraft attacked opposition groups supported by the u.s. scott, now that the russian strikes have begun, both sides are in a hurry to get those talks moving, and it could happen as soon as tomorrow with a video conference between the two militaries. >> pelley: david martin at the pentagon, thanks. with unique insight into this we'll bring in michael morrell, former number two at the c.i.a. and senior security contributor for cbs news. michael, how significant is this? >> scott, this is of historical significance. this is the first time the russians have conducted combat operations in the middle east since the end of world war ii. >> pelley: what do you think russian president vladimir putin is up to? >> there's lots of reasons here, scott, but i think they boil down to two.
the first is that he is trying to prop up assad. assad is weaker today than he has been since the fall of 2012, and putin is trying to prop him up. why? because putin really fears that if assad were to depart the scene, that there would be even more instability in syria, that isis could grow even more, perhaps even take over damascus. he really believes that. the second reason, scott, is that russia in general, putin in particular want to be seen as major players on the global stage, and this gives that to putin as well. >> pelley: has the obama administration been outmaneuvered by russia? >> you know, i think the real problem here, scott, is that what putin has done on the ground in syria has now made it more difficult to get to the only solution to the problem, and the only solution to the problem is a negotiated transfer of power from assad to something else. that's been our strategy all along, so he is undercutting our strategy. >> pelley: michael morrell, former number two at the c.i.a.
and senior security analyst for cbs news, michael, thank you so much. >> you're welcome. >> pelley: and there is breaking news in washington tonight where members of the u.s. secret service are accused in a scheme to retaliate against a republican congressman. jeff pegues is on that story. >> reporter: as head of the house oversight committee, congressman jason chaffetz has investigated misconduct by the secret service, including an incident in march, when agents allegedly drove drunk on white house grounds. a department of homeland security inspector general report says in retaliation, some at the secret service sought to embarrass chaffetz by accessing his 2003 application to be an agent. his file was protected by the privacy act, but according to the report, assistant director ed lowery wrote in an e-mail, "some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out." days later it was leaked to the media. the report says at least 45
members of the secret service viewed the application. the inspector general concluded the conduct was simply wrong. >> i don't trust them. i really don't trust them. >> reporter: chaffetz says the disclosure reflects deeper problems at the agency. >> if they're doing this to me, who knows what else they're doing. it really is scary. >> reporter: the assistant director who sent the e-mail says he was just venting and did not want the information leaked. scott, the director of the secret service, joe clancy, apologized to chaffetz and said he will take appropriate disciplinary action. >> pelley: jeff pegues reporting from washington. jeff, thank you. early today the state of georgia executed kelly gissendaner, turning aside pope francis' plea for mercy. gissendaner conspired to kill her husband in 1997. she sang "amazing grace" as the lethal drug was administered. the pope also asked oklahoma to spare murderer richard glossip.
he did get a reprieve today because of questions about a new lethal injection drug. also in oklahoma today, the tulsa county sheriff resigned after he was indicted. the charges stem from the fatal shooting of eric harris by reserve deputy robert bates last april. bates, who says he meant to use his taser, is a friend of sheriff stanley glanz. the sheriff is accused of covering up a report that questioned whether bates was fit for duty. today, exxonmobil said it is selling its refinery in torrance, california. it's been shut since a tremendous explosion last february. our anna werner has found that that disaster was nearly a catastrophe. >> look at the damage to this portion of the refinery. >> reporter: when part of this exxonmobil refinery blew up in february south of los angeles, smoke filled the sky and ash rained down on nearby neighborhoods. >> it was pretty scary.
>> reporter: lorraine harding's family lives a mile from the plant and felt the blast, so strong it registered as a 1.7 on the richter scale. >> i thought it was an earthquake because it shook and it was loud, a big boom. >> reporter: four workers were injured, but at the time, exxonmobil told residents there was no health danger to the community. but cbs news has learned it could have been much worse. >> we were really, really lucky. >> reporter: vanessa sutherland, the recently appointed head of the chemical safety board, the federal agency charged with investigating the accident, calls it a near miss. >> i think it is of concern to us that we have a facility that had a near miss which i actually feel very lucky about. it could have been much more catastrophic. >> this picture tells it all. look at this. >> reporter: catastrophic, she says, because when the explosion happened, a piece of equipment weighing 80,000 pounds was sent flying nearly 100 feet. sources say this photo submitted to federal investigators and
obtained by cbs news shows that piece landed just a few feet from a tank containing a form of hydrofluoric acid, a highly toxic chemical that if released can form a cloud of toxic gas that can drift for miles, potentially causing thousands of injuries and even death. >> h.f. in our view and in my view is one of the most hazardous and deadly chemicals. in worst-case scenarios at deadly levels it causes asphyxiation because once inhaled it causes respiratory problems that build up fluid and you ultimately drown. >> reporter: more than 200,000 people live within three miles of the plant. in documents filed with the environmental protection agency, exxonmobil itself estimates in a worst-case scenario release of hydrofluoric acid, all of them living within that area could be injured or even die. >> that does not sound reassuring to the community living around that plant. >> if i were in the community, i
absolutely would be concerned. >> reporter: exxonmobil disputes the idea that was a risk in february, telling us they strongly disagree with any claims that there was a significant risk to the hydrofluoric acid unit. the company would not do an on- camera interview and referred our questions about the risks of hydrofluoric acid to a industry group. the western states petroleum association. spokesman tupper hull. >> i think the technology employed in these refineries for all the hazardous materials used have proved to be very successful. >> reporter: what if the risks are managed and you still have an accident and people are killed, is it worth that risk? >> i'm not going to answer that question. sorry. >> reporter: last month there was a leak of hydrofluoric acid at the same refinery. exxonmobil says it was a small leak and had no impact on the community, but sutherland says the company is now resisting the
agency's subpoenas for information about the february explosion. why do you think they don't want you to have it? >> well, generally my experience as a regulator and an enforcer, when someone doesn't want you to have records, it's because they don't want you to see what's in it. >> reporter: strong words tonight from the federal government watchdog charged with investigating chemical accidents. now, 50 u.s. refineries use hydrofluoric acid nationwide. a united steelworkers' study that looked at half of those found 75% had h.f.-related incidents or near misses within the past three years and 50% of those, scott, would have impacted a community. >> pelley: anna werner reporting tonight. anna, thank you. there will be no shut down of the federal government. facing a midnight deadline, congress approved a spending bill today. republicans were fighting to end funding for planned parenthood, which provides abortions and other health services. the planned parenthood funding will stay. the bill will fund the government for only ten weeks.
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don't give out your card number over the phone call to report any suspected fraud we're cracking down on medicare fraud let's make medicare stronger for all of us >> pelley: today the ncaa scored a big victory. a federal appeals court struck down a plan to pay college athletes as much as $5,000 a year on top of tuition, room and board. college football, of course, is bigger than ever, but don dahler tells us tonight that many high schools are dropping the sport. >> reporter: football runs through isaac pearson's blood line. both his father and brother played. but the sophomore chose a different field. >> my mom's like, no, no, no, soccer's the thing. she doesn't want me to get hurt, but soccer is something i really liked. >> reporter: pearson's school also has a proud tradition of football, having gone to the
state championship as recently as 2010. but there is no team at maplewood this season. maplewood had a hard time finding enough players, due to injuries and lack of interest. nelson mitten is president of the school board. >> when you have low numbers of students from a school this size, you're drawing all the way from freshman to seniors. if we didn't have the size, that can have a significant effect upon the possibility of injuries. >> reporter: going against bigger teams. >> absolutely. that's because it's a difficulty for us. >> reporter: the number of high school football players in the u.s. has declined by 25,000 over the past five years. last year five high school players died playing football. that's more deaths than in college, semi-pro, or professional levels. maplewood senior romelle person still misses the game. >> when i first heard about it i was devastated. cause like, football is my favorite sport. even when we didn't do good we had that fun experience.
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>> p >> pelley: former nascar champ tony stewart said today next year will be his last lap of sprint cup racing. he'll be 45, and he hasn't won a race in two years. last year stewart hit and killed a driver who confronted him during a dirt track race. you can't help but feel bad for a fan at yankee stadium last night. first a foul pop went right through his hands. then another foul bounced off his chest. a sympathetic ball boy flipped him a ball, but that went off his face. his companion hid her face in embarrassment. also crying foul, the folks who operate these fan boats. their story is next.
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>> pelley: we end tonight with the largest subtropical wilderness in the united states, everglades national park, 1.5 million acres. some of the most familiar sights in the park are heading for extinction. now david begnaud on new rules that will phase out a way of life. >> reporter: keith price is right at home riding on this river of grass. as president of the airboat association of florida, he's fighting for the rights of future generations. >> i'll be one of the ones grandfathered in. >> reporter: the kids are not. >> that's what i'm going to battle for. >> reporter: for over 85 years, airboaters have used this 110,000 acre parcel of everglades as their playground, but in 1989, it was added to the
everglades national park, where airboating has been off limits. for the last 26 years, airboaters have been fighting with the national parks service. they want to pass along their hobby to their children and grandchildren, but congress says when they die, recreational airboating does, too. >> i've grown up on airboats. >> reporter: 21-year-old taylor rhodes is among those who will be banned. >> it's like a dying breed. my grandfather has taken me out here from when i was a kid. i have pictures of that boat ramp from when i was five years old. >> reporter: john adornato is regional director for the national parks conservation association, an independent advocacy group. >> everybody's national park is not just the backyard of a few ncal folks. >> reporter: he says the everglades require congressional protection. >> airboats are loud and noisy machines that can run through the everglades, scaring birds out of their nests and leaving preferential pathways for water flow that wouldn't naturally be there.
>> reporter: using a google map, adornato showed us black lines that are highlighting pathways the airboats are creating, jeopardizing, he says, the health of the entire everglades ecosystem, but price insists the ban is not necessary. >> we were doing it before the national park was here. >> reporter: price says the ashes of at least 30 airboaters are scattered here, and he's not giving up. >> i haven't lost until they throw a chain on that gate out in front of my club and tell my i can't go in anymore, and even then, i'm still going to make enough noise to be heard. >> reporter: the ban could be enforced as early as next month. scott, there are more than a million other acres outside the national park where gladesmen such as this gentleman, are still free the run their airboats. >> pelley: david begnaud, thanks very much. and that's the "cbs evening news" for tonight. for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good night captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
landowners. the long list of violations... going on f years... we ask mayor lee -- new at 6:00, a scathing report on one of san francisco's biggest landowners. the long list of violations going on for years. he asked mayor lee, what's the deal? >> a bay area school superintendent accused of losing it. cursing and yelling at a meeting. only on "5", what he says set him off. >> and something we haven't seen in a while. rain falling in the bay area. clearly it caught a lot of drivers by surprise. good evening, i'm ken bastida. >> i'm veronica de la cruz. the academy of art university is one of san francisco's biggest employers and landowners. but a new city report says there is a troubling pattern of building code violations. new at 6:00, kpix 5's phil matier looks at whether the privately owned school is getting special treatment.
>> reporter: that's one of the questions. the logo on one of the buildings here, you're seeing them all over town now and with that gross comes controversy. here's the story. with that growth comes controversy. >> reporter: dennis herrera on the results of a new planning commission report that found that 32 of the academy's 40 buildings in the city are out of compliance with code and have been for some time. >> building code violations, buildings being used and operated in ways that they are not allowed to be used. >> reporter: the buildings include converted classrooms, offices and dorms and are scattered throughout the city. >> the planning department is aware of this for 10 years and i have been screaming about this for letters to the planning department since 2012 and unfortunately the planning department hasn't enforced the law against aau like they do against ever