Virginia company sues state over uranium, Yahoo 7 FinanceAAP – Fri, Aug 7, 2015 11:01 AM AEST A mining company that wants to tap one of the world’s largest uranium deposits is suing Virginia to end a decades-long state moratorium on mining the radioactive ore.
Virginia Uranium Inc, which puts a market value of $US6 billion ($A8.16 billion) on the deposit, filed the lawsuit in US District Court to have the 1982 ban lifted so it can begin mining the 119 million-pound (53.98 million kg) deposit near the North Carolina line.
The Chatham company argues that the state meddled in a matter that should be decided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Virginia officials, the lawsuit contends, came to the wrong conclusion when it said uranium posed unacceptable health and safety risks.
“But more importantly, it had no business asking that question to begin with,” the lawsuit said. “For the radiological safety concerns that are at the heart of Virginia’s ban are squarely within the field of exclusive federal regulatory concern.”
Virginia Uranium’s quest to mine the so-called Coles Hill deposit in Pittsylvania County was the most heated environmental issue in the state for years until December 2013, when incoming Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe made it clear he wanted the ban kept in place.
The company’s decision to abandon its efforts to lift the moratorium also followed an unsuccessful legislative bid to achieve that end.
A spokeswoman for McAuliffe said he would have no comment. The lawsuit also names state mining and environmental officials.
Virginia Uranium invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions, lobbying and to fly delegations of Virginia lawmakers to France and Canada to tour uranium mining and processing facilities.
But it couldn’t overcome opponents who said mining and the storage of radioactive waste – called tailings – would threaten nearby rivers and streams that feed public water supplies.
Full-scale uranium mining has never been conducted on the US’ East Coast and opponents said Virginia would be a poor place to start. They cited the state’s wet climate and the fierce weather that often rakes the state. Most uranium mining is done in dry parts of the globe.
The mining would also include a milling operation to separate the radioactive ore from the rock.
Critics said that posed one of the biggest threats to the environment because of radioactive waste that would have to be stored for generations……..https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/virginia-company-sues-state-over-010106436.html
Judge rejects Boeing’s bid to demolish and dispose of radioactive waste without accountability Eturbo News, SANTA MONICA, CA, Jan 2015 – Sacramento Superior Court has denied Boeing’s motion for summary judgment in a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit over the demolition and disposal of radioactively contaminated structures from the site of a partial nuclear meltdown near Los Angeles, Consumer Watchdog said today.
“This is an important step on the way to ensuring that state regulators must consider the demolition and disposal of any radioactively contaminated structures at the Santa Susana Field Lab in their environmental assessment of the cleanup of this site,” said Consumer Watchdog Litigation Director Pam Pressley.
Boeing had claimed that the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has no regulatory
authority over the demolition and disposal of radioactively contaminated structures in the nuclear portion of the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) in Simi Hills. The lab had tested small-scale nuclear reactors, rocket engines, and fuels and suffered a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959 that has never been fully cleaned up……http://www.eturbonews.com/54422/judge-rejects-boeings-bid-demolish-and-dispose-radioactive-waste
Third US Navy sailor dies after being exposed to Fukushima radiation
Monday, August 24, 2015 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer (NaturalNews) At least three of the U.S. Navy sailors exposed to radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have now died from mysterious illnesses, according to Charles Bonner, an attorney representing approximately 250 of the sailors in a class action lawsuit against companies involved in running the Fukushima plant.
Bonner said in a July 21 update on the case that more than 250 sailors have come down with illnesses and three have died. “We had one of the sailors who came home and impregnated his wife. They gave birth to a little baby born with brain cancer and cancer down the spine, lived for two years, and just died in March of this year.”…….http://www.naturalnews.com/050902_Fukushima_US_Navy_sailors_radiation.html
Vadim Mikerin, a former executive with the Russian state nuclear fuel conglomerate Tenex has agreed to plead guilty in the US to money laundering and bribery charges in connection to a cooperative disarmament deal between Washington and Moscow, The Wall Street Journal reported………
Mikerin is the second major Russian nuclear official in a decade to be felled for defrauding a cooperative US-Russian nuclear program. The first was Yevgeny Adamov, former chief of Minatom, Rosatom’s predecessor.
Three US nationals, Daren and Carol Condrey, and Boris Rubizhevsky, were also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the case, various public documents from the US Attorney General’s office in Maryland show.
Mikerin was initially arrested on October 29, 2014 on charges of accepting kickbacks from uranium deals between Russia and the United States under the expired Megatons to Megawatts cooperative disarmament program.
He was denied bail and has remained in jail in Washington, D.C. since his arrest, the Russian Legal Information Agency Rapsi reported.
The disarmament program
Between 1993 and 2013, Russia down blended 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium for sale to and use in US commercial reactors under the HEU-LEU, or Megatons to Megawatts program……….http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2015-08-russian-official-plead-guilty-us-court-graft-cooperative-nuclear-weapons-destruction-program
South Carolina court blasts state’s environmental protection agency over poor oversight of leaking nuclear waste dump
For the second year in a row, the S.C. Court of Appeals has ripped the state’s environmental protection agency for failing to properly oversee a leak-prone nuclear waste dump in Barnwell County.
But this time, the appeals court isn’t telling regulators when to resolve problems at the 44-year-old site.
In an Aug. 12 ruling that disappointed landfill critics, the court backed away from requiring a specific timetable to improve conditions at Chem-Nuclear’s dump near the Savannah River.
Last year, the appeals court ordered the Department of Health and Environmental Control and site operator Chem-Nuclear to develop a written plan for correcting problems within 90 days. Both then appealed for a rehearing, which delayed the 90-day requirement and ultimately resulted in last week’s decision.
Sierra Club lawyer Bob Guild said this year’s decision leaves DHEC — the agency that has failed to properly manage the site — the discretion to react to the court ruling at its own leisure.
“We have an agency that has been lawless for years in not enforcing its own regulations, and now, the court is giving it another open-ended opportunity to review itself,’’ Guild said. “That is unfortunate. We are going to monitor this very carefully.’
Guild’s group filed suit 10 years ago in an attempt to force tougher disposal practices at the unlined landfill, where radioactive tritium leaks first were detected in the 1970s. A plume of tritium extends downhill from the site and has for years trickled into a creek that flows toward the nearby Savannah River.
Sierra Club officials say DHEC has been lax in making Chem-Nuclear follow rules at the disposal site through the years.
The appeals court acknowledged problems, saying that DHEC “failed to enforce the law of South Carolina’’ in monitoring the 235-acre landfill outside the town of Snelling.
The court said DHEC, as the agency overseeing Chem-Nuclear’s activities, did not enforce a handful of specific regulations established to protect the environment. It also said Chem-Nuclear had failed to follow some of the rules on nuclear waste disposal. Except for the timetable, the court’s decision last week was similar to last year’s ruling that took DHEC and Chem-Nuclear to task.
“It is important that DHEC enforce its own regulations and require Chem-Nuclear to take action to comply with the technical requirements,’’ the ruling said in sending the matter back to DHEC for consideration……….
An array of critics, however, say tritium is still toxic and often is a forerunner of other, more dangerous pollutants that will one day wash into groundwater. Leaks were discovered within a decade of the Barnwell County site’s opening in 1971, despite initial assurances from state regulators.
The disposal site once took low-level nuclear waste from atomic power plants, hospitals and other places from across the country. Today, the landfill is open only to South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey, and waste volumes have dropped sharply. But the Sierra Club has pressed ahead with its 2005 lawsuit, saying better disposal practices will prevent tritium leaks from getting any worse.
One of the major concerns centers on rain that falls into open burial trenches. Environmentalists for years have pushed the state to require the placement of tents or roofs atop the burial trenches. That would cut down on the amount of rain that pours in, picks up radioactive pollutants from the waste and leaks through the bottom of the landfill and into groundwater, they say.
The court said Chem-Nuclear had done nothing to keep rain out of the burial pits, even though a state regulation says it is supposed to minimize movement of water in the pits. And the court said DHEC had not forced the company to comply with the rule intended to keep rain out of the pits — or acted to prevent rain from leaking through the bottom and into groundwater………http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article31585892.html
After the disaster at Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, the government demanded Axpo, the Beznau plant operator, and other nuclear companies to step up their safety margins to make sure they were adequately flood and earthquake-proof. ………
Four of the country’s five reactors are temporarily offline for different reasons. Since August 14 block 2 at the nuclear power plant Beznau in canton Aargau has been offline. It will be out of service for four months while maintenance is carried out. Among the planned tasks is the replacement of the reactor pressure vessel cover. Block 1 at the plant has been out of service since March due to irregularities in the pressure vessel. Weak spots were found in the 15cm steel covering of the vessel.
Nuclear power plants in Leibstadt and Mühleberg are also currently not producing any energy due to annual maintenance service.
After the Fukushima disaster, the Swiss government decided to decommission all five of Switzerland’s nuclear power plants, starting in 2019 and ending by 2034. However, no exact dates were given for the individual reactors to be shut down. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/nuclear-power_nuclear-critics-threaten-legal-action-over-beznau-plant/41614406
This uranium project could haunt the Grand Canyon region for decades to come,” said Katie Davis with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Uranium mining leaves a highly toxic legacy that endangers human health, wildlife and the streams and aquifers that feed the Grand Canyon. It’s disappointing to see the Forest Service prioritizing the extraction industry over the long-term protection of a place as iconic as the Grand Canyon.”
‘Beyond Unacceptable’: Judge OKs Uranium Mine at Grand Canyon s underground aquifers. Slamming ruling, conservationists warn of irreversible contamination of the canyon’s underground aquifers.By Reynard Loki / AlterNet August 12, 2015 In June, the Grand Canyon was named one of the “Most Endangered Places” in America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. But the designation came just two months too late to possibly influence U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell. In April, he denied a request by the Havasupai tribe and a coalition of conservation groups to halt new uranium mining next to Grand Canyon National Park, just six miles from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
“We are very disappointed with the ruling by Judge Campbell in the Canyon Mine case,” said Havasupai Chairman Rex Tilousi. “We believe that the National Historic Preservation Act requires the Forest Service to consult with us and the other affiliated tribes before they let the mining company damage Red Butte, one of our most sacred traditional cultural properties.” He said that the Havasupai Tribal Council would appeal the decision.
Cleaning Up Contamination? Next to Impossible Continue reading
Youth Sue Obama Administration For Allowing Climate Change, Violating Constitutional Rights
“We have a moral obligation to leave a healthy planet for future generations.” Huffington Post, 08/12/2015
Twenty-one young people from around the country filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on Tuesday accusing the federal government of violating their rights by contributing to climate change through the promotion of fossil fuels.
The plaintiffs, who range in age from 8 to 19, filed their complaint in U.S. District Court in Oregon. The complaint lists numerous defendants, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Defendants have for decades ignored their own plans for stopping the dangerous destabilization of our nation’s climate system,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint, which was filed with the help of the Oregon-based nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. “Defendants have known of the unusually dangerous risk of harm to human life, liberty, and property that would be caused by continued fossil fuel use and increase [carbon dioxide] emissions.”
While setting new policies to reduce carbon emissions, the Obama administration has often touted an “all of the above” approach to energy policy that includes oil, natural gas, coal and renewable energy, the complaint continues. By continuing to promote the development and use of fossil fuels, the federal government violated their constitutional rights, the young plaintiffs allege.
“What we are providing is an opportunity for them to participate in the civic democratic process and go to the branch of government that can most protect their rights,” said Julia Olson, the lead counsel on the case………
In early August, Obama called climate change “one of the key challenges of our lifetime.”
“We’re the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it,” the president told an audience at an event in the White House’s East Room, where he unveiled new regulations on emissions from power plants.
But in the eyes of Olson and the plaintiffs, that’s not enough. They are asking for a court orderto force Obama to immediately implement a national plan to decrease atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million — a level many scientists agree is thehighest safe concentration permissible — by the end of this century. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already hit 400 parts per million.
“It’s really important that the court step in and do their jobs when there’s such intense violation of constitutional rights happening,” Olson said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/youth-obama-climate-change-lawsuit_55cbc451e4b064d5910a7183
Tamosaitis, who is well-known within the small community of experts in chemical mixing technology, had the largest national impact. The concerns he raised led the Energy Department to order a full-scale test of the mixing system, which has yet to be completed.
“The safety culture in the entire Energy Department complex is bad,” he said. “The Energy Department needs to clamp down on the contractors. It is systemwide.”
Hanford nuclear weapons site whistle-blower wins $4.1-million settlement LA Times, By RALPH VARTABEDIAN contact the reporter Twitter: @rvartabedian When Walter Tamosaitis warned in 2011 that the Energy Department’s plans for a waste treatment plant at the former Hanford nuclear weapons complex were unsafe, he was demoted and put in a basement room with cardboard boxes and plywood for office furniture.
Tamosaitis had been leading a team of 100 scientists and engineers in designing a way to immobilize millions of gallons of highly toxic nuclear sludge as thick as peanut butter. The sludge, which could deliver a lethal dose of radiation to a nearby person within minutes, is stored in leaking underground tanks near the Columbia River in Washington state.
Two years later, Tamosaitis was fired after 44 years with San Francisco-based engineering firm URS, which was later acquired by Los Angeles-based AECOM. He filed a wrongful termination suit but encountered some initial legal setbacks, and it looked as if he had been blackballed from the industry.
But on Wednesday, Tamosaitis won a $4.1-million settlement from AECOM, among the largest known legal damages paid out to a whistle-blower in the Energy Department’s vast nuclear waste cleanup program. Continue reading
Fukushima operator sued over suicide of 102-yo by hanging during evacuation,
Fumio Okubo was living in the village of Iitate, only 38 km from Fukushima Daiichi, when a massive earthquake and tsunami led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the nuclear plant in March 2011. His village was in an area of moderate contamination.
A month later in April, the authorities called for the village to be evacuated, but Okudo was apparently emotionally unable to leave the home where he was born and had lived his entire life.
After learning about the evacuation order on April 22, 2011 via TV, the old farmer told his daughter-in-law Mieko Okubo:“I don’t want to evacuate… I think I have lived a bit too long.”
The next day Mieko found him hanging his room.
Now Mieko, 62, says the 102-year-old’s family is suing Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) for 60 million yen ($485,000) in compensation.
“I want them to realize the gravity of what happened. A person who lived to become 102 chose to kill himself. We want them to know the pains that we as his family have to suffer,” she said at a press conference in Fukushima, adding that the family “will use this opportunity to speak about our feelings.”
The lawsuit filed on Wednesday also says Okubo “was not able to think about living anywhere else” because his“acquaintances, property and purpose of life were all in the village.”………..
10 Companies Appealing €100 Billion In Subsidies For UK’s Hinkley Nuclear Project http://cleantechnica.com/2015/07/23/10-companies-appealing-e100-billion-subsidies-uks-hinkley-nuclear-project/ by James Ayre
The relatively recent decision by the European Commission to approve roughly €100 billion in subsidies for the Hinkley Point C nuclear energy project in the UK is already being legally challenged, according to recent reports. The legal challenge is coming via an alliance of 10 companies — which includes various renewable energy suppliers and municipal utility companies, as well as Greenpeace Energy. The plea for an annulment of the approval is being made via the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Reportedly, according to the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the chances that the challenge will be successful are low. Based on recent events, one could argue that Germany is essentially the de facto head of the Commission, so that doesn’t seem to bode well for the legal challenge.
The challenge is being handled by Dörte Fouquet, of the Becker Büttner Held law firm. He commented on the situation thusly: “(The European Commission used) an incorrect evaluation benchmark because these British subsidies are an unlawful State Aid and not an investment aid. Moreover … there is no general failure of the energy market which could justify these proposed subsidies.”
For some background here, the subsidies call for the European Commission to provide £92.5/megawatt-hour (MWh) in support for 35 years to the 3.2 gigawatt (GW) nuclear project.
Figures provided by Greenpeace show that subsidies for the Hinkley Point C project will total some €108.6 billion over that period if inflation is taken into account (€53.7 billion without taking inflation into account). These subsidies are in addition to more than €20 billion in credit guarantees made by the UK.
That’s certainly quite a lot of state support for nuclear energy, is it not? And people are still claiming that it’s economically viable?
“This high level of subsidization means that Hinkley Point C can generate power at negative prices without suffering financial losses. Hinkley Point C lowers the wholesale price of power in the UK. Lower prices lead to an increased import of electricity from the UK to Germany. These imports lower the price of power in Germany, reducing the profits of its conventional and renewable power plants. This effect can lower the price of electricity in Germany by as much as 20 euro cents per megawatt-hour,” as Greenpeace put it in a recent statement.
The companies involved in the legal challenge are oekostrom AG, Greenpeace Energy, and Energieversorgung Filstal. The municipal utilities involved in the appeal are Bochum, Mainz, Schwäbisch Hall, Tübingen, Mühlacker, Aalen, and Bietigheim-Bissingen.
Group taking battle over nuclear waste burial plan to court http://london.ctvnews.ca/group-taking-battle-over-nuclear-waste-burial-plan-to-court-1.2419411 Scott Miller, CTV London June 12, 2015
Plans to build Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste storage facility are heading to court.
A citizen’s group called Save Our Saugeen Shores has asked the Federal Court of Canada to put the project on ice.
They are appealing for a judicial review of the Joint Review Panel decision of May 7th, which recommended approval of the multi-million dollar project. Following six weeks of public hearings and months of deliberation a three-person panel recommended Ontario Power Generation be allowed to build an underground facility near Lake Huron to house all of Ontario’s low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste.
If approved by the federal government, it would be Canada’s first permanent nuclear waste storage facility.
Save our Saugeen Shores argues the Joint Review Panel erred in their decision because of “multiple legal errors, bias-tainted process, and its acceptance of evidence of, and reliance on, deceptive and unlawful conduct.”
Jill Taylor is president of Save our Saugeen Shores. She says “If the federal government is not prepared to respect its own environmental laws and processes, how can they expect Canadian industry and the Canadian public to do so?”
The federal environment minister has moved a deadline to make a final decision on the project until early December. The deadline was initially early September, before October’s federal election.
Save our Saugeen Shores wants the Joint Review Panel decision quashed and a new, more thorough process to be undertaken before allowing Ontario Power Generation to proceed with construction.
If built, 200,000 cubic metres of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste would be buried within 1.5 kilometres of Lake Huron on the Bruce Power site north of Kincardine. If approved by the federal Ministry of the Environment, construction could begin by 2018.
AUSTRIAN LEGAL ACTION COULD DELAY HINKLEY POINT NUCLEAR FOR THREE TO FOUR YEARS, Power Engineering 09/07/2015 By Diarmaid Williams
That timeframe is based on the average expectation associated with such cases, as confirmed this week by a legal expert who had been advising the Austrian government on the matter. It is less than the worst case scenario timeframe of five to eight years but that delay is not beyond the bounds of possibility as the subsequent decision could still be challenged.
Dr Dorte Fouquet, Partner, BBH Brussels who has been advising Vienna on the matter of their objection to Britain’s flagship nuclear power project on the basis of State Aid contravention told Power Engineering International, “From the publication on average statistics from the European Court in State Aid cases the duration can be on average between 31,5 und 50,3 months.”
Dr Fouquet quoted the information from the 2013 Annual report of the European Court of Justice, (pg. 186).
She had told an audience at Platts Power Summit in central London at the end of April that if Vienna pressed on with its challenge it could set back construction of the Hinkley Point C project for even longer than that average.
“Based on whether a party was unhappy with that, it could then go again before the European Court of Justice, which could also take years, though probably not as much as the first; this is based on average procedures.”……….
Greenpeace and utilities launch suit against Hinkley nuclear plant, Guardian 2 July 15
Nine German and Austrian utilities selling renewable energy join with green group to launch legal action against state aid for new nuclear power in UK. Greenpeace and nine German and Austrian utilities selling renewable energy said on Thursday they are launching legal action against state aid for a new British nuclear power plant, which was approved by the European commission.
Greenpeace and the others in the group said at a news briefing that the lawsuit would be filed with the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in the coming days, over the Hinkley Point C project in south-west England.
It would be based on the argument that billions of euros of subsidies for nuclear energy would distort prices in mainland European power markets, which are linked to those in Britain via a small French interconnector.
“We are complaining against these boundless nuclear subsidies, because from an ecological and macro-economic viewpoint, they appear senseless and bring substantial financial disadvantages for other energy suppliers, renewable energies and for consumers,” said Soenke Tangermann, managing director of the Greenpeace Energy co-operative……… http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/02/greenpeace-utilities-launch-suit-against-hinkley-nuclear-plant
UK government and EDF anxious about Austria’s lawsuit against state aid for Hinkley Point nuclear station
Government and EDF in talks over liabilities if Austria wins nuclear state aid appeal, Telegraph, Energy giant and Government yet to agree what would happen if Austrian challenge against state aid for Hinkley Point C is successful By Emily Gosden, Energy Editor 30 Jun 2015 The Government and EDF are in talks over who will pick up the costs if Austria wins its appeal against the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant once construction has begun.
Plans for the £16bn Hinkley Point plant received state aid clearance from the European Commission last year but Austria has vowed to challenge this, alleging that subsidies for the project constitute illegal state aid.
Although the Government and EDF both insist the appeal, expected to be lodged this week, has no merit, it is understood they are yet to agree on what would happen in the unlikely event Austria does win.Andrea Leadsom, the new energy minister, said on Tuesday she was “confident that the key investment decision on Hinkley C will happen soon, which will enable construction to start”.
But speaking on the fringes of the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference, Ms Leadsom also confirmed that the Government was “looking very closely” at the issue of how the project could go ahead with a state aid challenge ongoing.Austria’s state aid appeal is likely to hang over the project for at least a year and potentially as long as six years – during which time billions of pounds would be spent on construction.
The Government and EDF are believed to be targeting a final investment decision by October.A series of issues remain outstanding including EDF’s takeover of reactor-maker Areva’s nuclear business, deals with Chinese investors, and finalising contracts with the Government.
Writing on legal website Lexology, lawyers at Shearman and Sterling LLP wrote: “While the prospect of success is low, even a small chance of success creates additional risk for project financiers.
“In a worst-case scenario, where the Commission makes an adverse decision, the UK Government’s support scheme – including the strike price and guarantee – would be ruled unlawful and unenforceable, with any aid already received having to be repaid. A competitor or other party with standing could apply to the UK national court to enforce this.
“While this outcome is the least likely, it may have a severely adverse impact on investors in the Hinkley Point C project.”
They added that “investors may find insuring themselves contractually (e.g., via indemnities or similar means) difficult” and that “any provision seeking protection from the UK Government for such an eventuality could itself risk being struck down as unlawful State aid”…..http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11709083/Government-and-EDF-in-talks-over-liabilities-if-Austria-wins-nuclear-state-aid-appeal.html
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