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Billions going out nationwide to address contaminated sites

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Billions of dollars from an environmental contamination settlement now can be disbursed nationwide, including for cleanup of former uranium sites on the Navajo Nation and a chemical manufacturing site in Nevada.

The $5.15 billion settlement between the U.S. government and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. was reached last April. But a bankruptcy court had been awaiting appeals before declaring it final this week.

The settlement resolves a legal battle over Tronox Inc., a spinoff of Kerr-McGee Corp. Andarko acquired Tronox in 2006.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Navajo Nation will use more than $1 billion to clean up a uranium mill in Shiprock, New Mexico, and about 50 mine sites elsewhere on the reservation.

Another $1.1 billion will address a perchlorate groundwater plume that has contaminated Lake Mead in Nevada.

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Nevada to receive $2B for cleanups from Anadarko settlement with U.S. EPA

HENDERSON, Nev. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday it reached a settlement with Anadarko and Kerr-McGee Friday.

The settlement secures payments of $5.15 billion to resolve claims that the defendants fraudulently transferred assets in part to evade their liability for contamination at toxic sites around the country. Of this total, approximately $4.4 billion will be used to clean the environment. This is the largest sum ever awarded in this type of a bankruptcy-related environmental settlement with the federal government.

FAA's first drone in Nevada crashes after takeoff

BOULDER CITY, Nev. -- The Federal Aviation Administration authorized the first drone to fly in Nevada as part of the federal drone test site program.

“They will be able to do their flights here at this test site in order to prepare themselves to go through the final certification process in order to operate commercial use,” said Glen Martin, Regional Administrator Western Pacific Region Federal Aviation Administration.

The agency is issuing a Test Site Special Airworthiness Certificate to "Magpie," a drone built by the company Sensurion.

“Magpie is a tough little bird that is sort of native to Colorado,” said Joe Burns

CEO, Sensurion Aerospace.

Earlier in the day, Magpie soared in the Nevada sky and became the first FAA certified commercial unmanned aircraft. However, the second test flight ceremony in Boulder City didn't go as planned for federal regulators.

I-Team: Colorado River allocations banked in Lake Mead

 LAS VEGAS -- A major agreement on how to combat the shrinking water level at Lake Mead was reached Thursday. The pact involved states like Nevada that draw water from the Colorado River. 

The water level at Lake Mead has dropped about 10-feet per year since 2000, and drought has continued to plague the southwest. The lake's elevation this week stood at 1,084 feet: Below 1,050 feet, one of the main intakes which sends water from the lake to the Las Vegas valley has stopped working. That's a serious situation.

“How do we make sure Lake Mead doesn't get to critical elevations,” asked Terry Fulp, Bureau of Reclamation.

Members of the Colorado River Water Users Association agreed to bank some of their water allocations in Lake Mead: There will be 750-thousand acre feet of water to start with, but the goal is to store an additional three million acre feet in the lake over the next five years.

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I-Team: SNWA approves water rate hike

 LAS VEGAS --Water rate payers will see an increase in their water bills following the approval of a rate hike by the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

The increase will be used to pay for a $650 million pumping station at Lake Mead. The increase for the average homeowner could be anywhere from $2.50 to $5 a month. Businesses will pay more.

“The tunnel boring machine, after excavating three miles under Lake Mead and over the past three years, encountered and began penetrating intake structure which has been patiently waiting on the bottom of Lake Mead,” said Marc Jensen, Dir. Engineering SNWA.

When the announcement that the machines finally punched through miles of rock opening up a new intake tunnel to Lake Mead Friday, it was met with cheers and applauds.

Autopsy shows strangulation killed girl

Isabella Grogan-Cannella

 LAS VEGAS -- The autopsy on an 8-year-old Bullhead City, Arizona girl shows the girl died from asphyxiation due to strangulation.

Isabella "Bella" Grogan-Cannella's body was found in a shallow grave a day after she was reported missing on Sept. 2, 2014. 

According to the autopsy, there was a hemorrhage within the girl's vaginal wall, but no conclusion about sexual assault was made.

Justin Rector, 27, is facing murder and kidnapping charges in the case. Rector was staying with the girl's family at the time of her disappearance. He is currently being held without bail in the Mohave County jail in Kingman. The state has said it will seek the death penalty.

Police seek information about strangled woman

LAS VEGAS —  Metro Police are trying to get information that could lead them to a suspect in the killing of a woman earlier this month.

The body of 41-year-old Julia Gomez who also known as Julia Lopez-Maravilla was found around 8 a.m. on Nov. 15 at Lake Mead on State Route 147. She was wrapped in plastic and dumped near a gypsum mine. Her remains were discovered while search crews were out looking for another woman reported missing.

The coroner's office said Lopez-Maravilla was strangled to death and ruled it a homicide.

No suspects have been named in the case and police said their investigation continues.