Nuclear still unclear: Does ratification of CSC fix problems of nuclear law? Now that India has ratified the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage, the question is whether this paves the way for firms like GE, Westinghouse and Areva setting up nuclear plants in India or whether the Indian Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CNLD) Act still effectively acts as a deterrent. The Financial Express, By: Sunil Jain | New Delhi | February 5, 2016 Now that India has ratified the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) for Nuclear Damage, the question is whether this paves the way for firms like GE, Westinghouse and Areva setting up nuclear plants in India or whether the Indian Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CNLD) Act still effectively acts as a deterrent. Considering that, on his visit to India less than six months ago, GE CEO Jeff Immelt was quite dismissive of the changes proposed by India, it would appear it isn’t quite the done deal that was made out by the government which, after the ratification in Vienna, said “this marks a conclusive step in the addressing of issues related to civil nuclear liability in India”.
While in India, Immelt had said “the world has an established liability regime … it has been accepted and adopted … I can’t put my company on risk … India can’t reinvent the language on liability”. All that the ratification means, for all practical purposes, is that India considers its nuclear liability law to be in conformity with the CSC; it doesn’t mean that the CSC will now override the Indian law. Indeed, as the FAQs released by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) last year in February make clear, India has believed its law to be in conformity with CSC for a long time. “Based on the presentations by the Indian side …”, the MEA’s FAQs read, “there is a general understanding that India’s CLND law is compatible with the CSC”; at another place, the FAQs states “the provisions of the CLND Act are broadly in conformity with the CSC”.
“The Brookhaven scientific culture still doesn’t understand the interrelationship between humans and the natural world and the lethal consequences their work in nuclear technology imposes on the population and environment of the world. They still don’t understand that nuclear power is a polluting, deadly technology”
The book “Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town” by Kelly McMasters links widespread cancer in neighboring Shirley to radioactive releases from BNL.
Class action lawsuit against Brookhaven National Lab moving ahead, Enformable, Karl Grossman 2 Feb 16 A class action lawsuit—begun 20 years ago—that charges Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) with contaminating neighborhoods adjacent to it will be moving ahead again in New York State Supreme Court this month.
Court action is scheduled for the last week in February. Since it was first brought in 1996, the lawsuit has gone back and forth between the State Supreme Court and the Appellate Division several times, as BNL has fought it.
In July the Appellate Division—the judicial panel over the Supreme Court in New York State —ruled the case can move towards trial. It declared that “the causes of action of the proposed intervenors are all based upon common theories of liability.” In other words, it stated that the plaintiffs could sue for damages.
But, outrageously, the radioactive contamination caused by BNL—documented in the 2008 book “Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town” and focused upon by the award-winning 2012 documentary “The Atomic States of America”—can no longer be part of the case. Continue reading
Marshalls nuclear case set for ICJ hearing http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/295377/marshalls-nuclear-case-set-for-icj-hearing 1 Feb 16, The Marshall Islands’ legal battle against the world’s nuclear powers has inched forward after an international court announced dates for hearings involving India, Pakistan and Britain.
The UN’s highest court, the International Court of Justice, set dates between 7 March and 16 March for separate hearings for the three cases.
The Marshall Islands, where the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958, launched action in 2014 against nine nuclear states.
It has accused them of flagrant violation of international law for failing to pursue the negotiations required by the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In the cases against India and Pakistan, the court at The Hague will examine whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits.
The hearing involving Britain will look at preliminary objections raised by Britain.
The Marshall Islands’ case against the US hit a stumbling block last year when it was thrown out by the Federal District Court in San Francisco.
An appeal is underway. The Marshall Islands also filed suits against Russia, France, China, Israel and North Korea.
Panel begins debate on limit of compensation in event of nuclear accident http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/24/national/panel-begins-debate-limit-compensation-event-nuclear-accident/#.VqUt4Jp97Gh JIJI The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has started full discussions by experts on whether to limit the power plant operator’s liability to pay damage compensation in the event of a nuclear accident.
Currently, nuclear plant operators in Japan bear unlimited liability for compensation, but some experts demand that a ceiling be set for their responsibility.
The discussions are expected to be difficult, as limiting the liability would raise the problem of how to compensate affected people and businesses for the damage in excess of the limit.
For the March 2011 triple meltdown accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant, Tepco shoulders full liability for compensation under the nuclear compensation law.
But as Tepco alone cannot finance all the costs for compensation payments and decontamination work, the government set aside ¥9 trillion in assistance, which has been provided to the company through Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., a public-private organization. Tepco repays the aid little by little.
Electric power industry people have been pushing for a cap on nuclear plant operators’ liability for compensation. “If the sky’s the limit for compensation, we cannot project an outlook for our nuclear energy business,” a senior official of a major power utility said.
In line with the government’s policy of continuing to use nuclear energy, an expert panel of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission started debate last year on any problems with the current compensation regime.
Some panel members argued for a limited liability system. “Shouldering risks that go beyond the limit of the private sector will impede fund procurement by electric power companies,” one member said.
On the other hand, a separate member said, “Limited liability is not an option, considering the current situation of Fukushima.”
There are also concerns that a narrower scope of responsibility for power companies could be detrimental to their commitment to safety.
With the panel divided sharply, a government official said no conclusion is expected at an early date.
The expert panel plans to produce a report on their discussions next year, and the government will subsequently start working on any necessary amendments to the nuclear compensation law.
Even if the nuclear compensation system is revised, past nuclear accidents will not be covered by a limited liability system.
Among countries that impose limits on an electric power company’s liability of compensation for a nuclear accident, the United States sets the maximum liability at $12.6 billion and Britain has a ceiling of £140 million ($199.7 million), according to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission. Under the U.S. system, if the scale of nuclear damage exceeds the limit, the president proposes a supplementary compensation program to the Congress.
the directive signals an initial step toward trying to dismantle or rein in a $12 billion compensation program that has made payments to more than 53,000 sickened workers or their survivors since 2001.
Department of Labor says nuclear facilities are much safer since 1995
Workers and advocates worry it will be more difficult to prove cases
A fight is underway to get policy repealed in order to protect sick employees
BY LINDSAY WISE, ROB HOTAKAINEN AND FRANK MATT McClatchy Washington Bureau, 22 Jan 16 WASHINGTON
Abelardo Garza was working near tanks full of toxic sludge at Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state last Aug. 14 when one of his co-workers noticed a strange smell.
Within minutes, Garza’s nose started bleeding. The next morning, he awoke gasping for breath.
It was the fourth time in five years that Garza would end up in the hospital after suspected exposure to chemical vapors at Hanford, a 586-square-mile site where workers once made plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
Now Garza, 65, worries that a new federal directive the government says was intended to speed up compensation claims by sick and dying nuclear workers could harm his chances of qualifying for benefits if his health worsens in the future.
The directive, which became effective in December 2014, orders claims examiners to conclude that workers at Department of Energy nuclear facilities have not have any significant exposure to toxins since 1995 “in the absence of compelling data to the contrary.”
To Garza, the wording of the government’s directive feels like a dismissal. Continue reading
Nuclear Watch to sue over LANL cleanup problems By Mark Oswald / Journal Staff Writer January 21st, 2016 Albuquerque Journal SANTA FE – Nuclear Watch New Mexico on Wednesday put the federal Department of Energy and the private contractor that manages Los Alamos National Laboratory on official notice that it will file suit over the lab’s failure to meet cleanup goals established in a legally binding 2005 consent order.
The notice mailed Wednesday notes the lab missed a December final deadline for completion of Los Alamos clean-up work and hasn’t asked for an extension of the now-expired schedule that was set a decade ago.
That makes DOE and Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS), the lab’s private manager, liable for civil penalties and subject to injunction, says the notice by attorney Jonathan Block of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center.
“We are putting the weaponeers on notice that they have to clean up their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuke Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group. He was referring to DOE’s recent preliminary approvals for changes at Los Alamos, including new underground facilities, to accommodate re-starting production of plutonium “pits,” the triggers for nuclear weapons……..
The Environment Department has plans to revise the 2005 cleanup consent order with DOE and LANS, a private consortium that includes Bechtel and the University of California.
The order was a result of the Environment Department’s 2002 finding that decades worth of radioactive and hazardous waste at Los Alamos posed an “imminent” threat to health and the environment. The state issued an order requiring LANL to investigate its 40-square-mile property for waste. DOE and the lab argued their own cleanup schedule was better and sued.
The 2005 consent deal ending the dispute laid out milestones toward “fence-to-fence” cleanup by 2015, enforceable by financial penalties. But getting enough funding for the work – federal dollars have been mostly in the range of $185 million to $200 million annually – became increasingly difficult, and it was clear in recent years that the lab would come nowhere near meeting deadlines set in the 2005 document. In November, state Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said he believes it will cost much more than DOE’s own $1.2 billion estimate to finish the job.
Nuke Watch’s Coghlan said Wednesday that cleanup at Los Alamos “continues to be delayed, delayed, delayed,” despite plans to spend a trillion dollars over 30 years to rebuild the U.S. nuclear weapons force……..
Nuke Watch also has been pushing for a formal public hearing process – which Nuke Watch contends is required and allows interested parties to submit materials and question witnesses – as a revised consent order on cleanup is developed. Flynn has said that would cause delays and promised opportunities for public comment instead in other settings, such as meetings of a citizens advisory board.
Flynn also has insisted that before a new consent order is negotiated, DOE must come to final agreement with the state over plans for $73.5 million that the federal agency agreed to pay for a radioactive leak that has shut down the nation’s nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad. Two years ago, a waste drum from LANL, improperly packed, breached at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and contaminated the storage facility. http://www.abqjournal.com/709455/news/nuke-watch-files-suit-over-missed-clean-up-deadlines-at-los-alamos.html
“I had the chance at the start of the week to speak to (Finnish Economy Minister) Olli Rehn, and we gave ourselves a month to let the companies and shareholders find the conditions for an agreement or way out,” Macron said on the sidelines of a New Year event.
Finnish utility TVO and an Areva-led consortium with Siemens are claiming billions of euros from one another in an arbitration suit over cost overruns and delays to the EPR reactor Areva is building in Olkiluoto, in Finland, for TVO.
The unsettled claims are holding up a planned takeover of Areva’s reactor arm by French utility EDF, which does not want to be responsible for them.
TVO has a 2.6 billion euro ($2.8 billion) claim against the Areva-Siemens consortium at the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) arbitration court, while Areva-Siemens have a 3.4 billion euro counter-claim.
While the French state – which owns 85 percent of EDF and 87 percent of Areva – has a big stake in a speedy resolution of the Olkiluoto claims, TVO is a private company and the Finnish government’s position so far has been not to intervene.
TVO’s owners include paper companies UPM and Stora Enso as well as utility Fortum. (Reporting by Michel Rose and Yann Le Guernigou; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by James Regan and Susan Thomas)
Energy department faces legal ordeal on nuclear energy deal, Business Day Live, South Africa BY CAROL PATON, 11 JANUARY 2016 THE CURIOUS DEVELOPMENTS ON GOVERNMENT’S NUCLEAR ENERGY PROCUREMENT PROGRAMME LAST MONTH HAVE SUNK THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY DEEPER INTO A LEGAL MESS.
Already, an attempt to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the process has been lodged: Earthlife and the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Initiative (Safcei) filed papers to oppose it in October.
Now, the muddled events that unfolded last month are likely to make matters worse, making an already controversial process even more contested.
It all began in the last Cabinet meeting of the year on December 7, when it took a decision to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to build 9,600MW of nuclear power-generation.
As important as it is, this decision was not communicated in the normal post-Cabinet media statement by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.
Official confirmation took place only on December 21 in a government gazette. Like the absence of an official announcement, the gazette, too, was strange. Apart from the fact that it was issued on December 21, when the holiday season was under way, the gazette made use of a two-year-old signature by previous minister Ben Martins to establish its legal basis.
In order to call for proposals for new generation, the minister of energy must first make an official determination in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006. To do so, she must obtain the concurrence of the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa). This, it seems, was done two years ago by Mr Martins and the paperwork then lay in a file in the Department of Energy for the next two years.
Last month, the old document was retrieved and slapped into the government gazette.
There are several reasons why the Department of Energy decided to use an old document to make the determination rather than getting a fresh one from serving Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. None of them, though, will make the nuclear deal any smoother……..
key to the legal arguments will be the difference of opinion over whether public consultation to build nuclear power stations has taken place. The department says that it has as it consulted widely over the IRP 2010 and has also engaged in environmental impact assessments. Safcei and Earthlife disagree that this amounts to meaningful consultation.
It is also worth noting that an RFP is only the beginning of the shopping process and does not mean that a decision to build plants has been taken. Reaching a decision on whether nuclear energy is affordable, particularly on the scale that SA has in mind, is a bigger and more difficult decision that the Cabinet will still have to take.
Getting there, though, will mean first navigating the procedural legal hurdles along the way. http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2016/01/11/energy-department-faces-legal-ordeal-on-nuclear-energy-deal
Say hello to the Marshall Islands, the tiny, heroic island nation in Micronesia, with a population just over 70,000. This former U.S. territory, which still bears the terrible scars of 67 above-ground nuclear blasts between 1946 and 1958, when this country used it as an expendable nuclear test site, has engaged the United States — and, indeed, all nine nations that possess nuclear weapons — in lawsuits demanding that they comply with the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and begin the process of negotiating global nuclear disarmament.
Taking on the Nuclear Goliath http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/08/taking-on-the-nuclear-goliath/ by ROBERT KOEHLER
“Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. And . . . as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.
“So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
These words, the core of President Obama’s first major foreign policy speech, delivered in Prague in April 2009, now resonate with nothing so much as toxic irony — these pretty words, these words of false hope, which disappeared into Washington’s military-industrial consensus and failed to materialize into action or policy.
James Carroll, writing at Mother Jones in 2013, describes what happened in the wake of this extraordinary policy declaration:
“In order to get the votes of Senate Republicans to ratify the START treaty, Obama made what turned out to be a devil’s bargain. He agreed to lay the groundwork for a vast ‘modernization’ of the US nuclear arsenal, which, in the name of updating an aged system, is already morphing into a full-blown reinvention of the arms cache at an estimated future cost of more than a trillion dollars. In the process, the Navy wants, and may get 12 new strategic submarines; the Air Force wants, and may get a new long-range strike bomber force. Bombers and submarines would, of course, both be outfitted with next-generation missiles, and we’d be off to the races. The arms races.”
And the cause of global nuclear disarmament, once a dream with geopolitical cred, may wind up entombed in eternal apathy. Continue reading
the plaintiffs have suffered a litany of health problems including cancer, tumors, brain defects, birth defects, early death and a wide variety of undiagnosed conditions. These are “very serious illnesses for a very large population of very young people
Even though it cannot be legally liable, the Defense Department seems to have been actively obstructing the sailors’ quest for justice.
Fukushima radiation causes debilitating deformities in US Navy sailors Thursday, December 31, 2015 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer (NaturalNews) U.S. Navy sailors and Marines dispatched to provide aid to Japan following the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 are now suffering a variety of rare and undiagnosed health problems, including many involving horrifying and visible changes to their bodies.
After the tsunami, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, led by the USS Ronald Reagan, was diverted to the coast of Japan to provide relief work. The soldiers were not told that the disaster had triggered multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, or that a radioactive plume was spreading across the Pacific Ocean.
Aviation Bosun’s Mate Dagan Honda and Aviation Structural Mechanic Ron Wright say they spent all day nearly every day of the mission on the deck of the Reagan, loading supplies. For roughly the first week of the mission, the sailors were given no radiation protection.
“So these sailors literally were marinating in radioactive particles,” said Attorney Charles Bonner, who is representing more than 200 sailors and Marines in a class action lawsuit against Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and several other defendants. Continue reading
Marshall Islands fights back in nuclear lawsuit http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/292690/marshall-islands-fights-back-in-nuclear-lawsuit The Marshall Islands has pulled up the US government over its interpretation of treaty law in a continuing David and Goliath legal battle over nuclear disarmament.
The two sides have been submitting their briefs for the appeal by the Marshall Islands against a US federal judge’s decision to throw out the case.
The Marshall Islands says the US government lawyers have broadly misstated the law surrounding treaty disputes as it pushes ahead with its so-called Nuclear Zero lawsuit.
The country, which was used as a testing ground for the US’ nuclear programme in the forties and fifties, launched action last year to get the world’s nuclear powers to honour their promise to disarm under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.
But the case against the US was thrown out in February on constitutional grounds. In its appeal brief the Marshall Islands says the US courts do have the power to oversee disputes over international treaties saying no law elevates the president’s authority to make a treaty above the judiciary’s power to decide disputes.
It also argued it can bring the suit because the US has violated its treaty negotiations and because of the measurable increased danger it faces.
The government contends even if a foreign state was able to sue in US courts, it can’t challenge the president’s foreign affairs responsibilities.
The Marshalls’ Foreign Minister Tony de Brum earlier said the Marshall Islands would use every legal avenue to make sure the lawsuit is won in his lifetime.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will now appoint a three-judge panel to consider the briefs.
Fukui governor to give consent for nuclear plant restart Japan Today, DEC. 21, 2015 – FUKUI —
Fukui Gov Issei Nishikawa will soon give his consent for the restart of two nuclear reactors in the prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast, sources close to the matter said Sunday, as the central government seeks to bring more reactors back online after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The governor will visit the site of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co’s Takahama plant on Monday to check safety measures before expressing his consent, they said. The governor’s consent is necessary to restart the reactors…….
In the talks, Hayashi said the central government will tackle issues such as nuclear accidents and decommissioning “with responsibility.” The minister also said the government plans to hold symposiums and other events across Japan to gain public support for the restart of nuclear reactors.
Nishikawa welcomed such measures by the central government and said he will make a decision that would “win the trust of the residents of the prefecture.”…..
However, a court injunction in April has banned Kansai Electric from reactivating the Takahama units over safety concerns. The Fukui District Court will make a decision Thursday on an objection filed by the utility over the injunction. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukui-governor-to-give-consent-for-nuclear-plant-restart
More delays for Plant Vogtle, Savannah Morning News December 11, 2015 By WALTER C. JONES ATLANTA — Work to add two nuclear reactors to Plant Vogtle is growing further behind schedule, according to experts hired by state regulators to monitor construction who testified Thursday.
William Jacobs, a nuclear engineer who has managed the construction and startup of seven reactors, testified at a hearing before the Public Service Commission that efforts to catch up haven’t been successful. Instead, the commission consultant said delays have gotten worse despite assurances from Georgia Power executives…….
The hearing is part of the commission’s review of the money spent every six months, which totaled $148 million in the period between January and June……
The anti-nuclear group’s spokeswoman, Glenn Carroll, testified that Georgia Power’s existing power plants only operate at 58 percent capacity and demand hasn’t grown by the 4 percent annually the company predicted when it planed Vogtle’s expansion……
Another group trying to halt construction is taking a different approach. The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League announced Thursday it had filed a petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission along with the Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff accusing the electric utilities that own Plant Vogtle of seeking construction shortcuts that would harm workers and nearby residents……http://savannahnow.com/news/2015-12-11/more-delays-vogtle#
|French and Japanese nuclear fuel cycle may be affected by failures at Monju Enformable ,08 Dec 2015 Residents of Fukui Prefecture in Japan have announced that they will file a lawsuit with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to permanently shutdown the Monju fast breeder reactor.
A breeder reactor generates more fuel than it consumes. The Monju reactor was not only supposed to process the nuclear waste generated at the operating nuclear reactors, but was also supposed to provide fuel for future reactors. The facility has never lived up to its lofty expectations. Japan has spent nearly 10 trillion Yen on the facility, and in return the Monju reactor has been kept offline for most of the past 19 years due to a massive leak, repeated failures, safety problems and organizational issues.
The resident lawsuit claims that the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), operator of the Monju facility, is not qualified to handle operating the facility……
The lawsuit by the citizens could also impact France’s Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration (ASTRID) fast-breeder reactor project. Japan and France have agreed to work together to research, develop, and promote fast breeder reactors. France was supposed to use the Monju reactor to test fuel for the ASTRID project, which uses the same concepts – but since the facility is banned from operations and testing with no established date for coming back online and the volatility around whether or not the facility should operate at all and who should operate it continues unabated – France may be forced to scrap its plans to incorporate the Monju facility.
Monju Fast Breeder Reactor Timeline…. http://enformable.com/2015/12/french-and-japanese-nuclear-fuel-cycle-may-be-affected-by-failures-at-monju/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Enformable+%28Enformable%29
“……..On the issue of liability and compensation, the government has shown scant regard to potential victims. Safeguarding the foreign suppliers from any liability has been a paramount concern.
Nothing could be more absurd and ironic than the fact that since the inception of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act 2010, the government has been busy finding a way to address the concerns of the foreign suppliers, who want complete indemnification.
The clause 17(b), holding suppliers liable, albeit with severe limitations, was introduced under parliamentary and civil society pressure by a reluctant Manmohan Singh. But the Modi governmentt has dumped the earlier BJP position on nuclear liability, and tried to create an insurance pool to channel the liability back to the exchequer, thus undermining the law.
In the light of India’s vulnerability on the above three counts, the 31st anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy should be a moment to recognise that, in general, our administrative and political system can only be relied on to be totally inefficient and unaccountable.
As with Bhopal, in the case of a nuclear accident, the government would be unable to provide any relief for victims, especially as the main victims would be adivasis and villagers far away from the public gaze.
Irreversible and wide-ranging consequences……… http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/india-unprepared-what-happens-in-case-of-a-nuclear-bhopal-1449243696.html
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