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The Week in Nuclear News

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Belgium: Nuclear regulator there calls for global inspection of nuclear reactors, as 1000s of cracks found in pressure vessels of nuclear reactors – “This may be a global problem for the entire nuclear industry”.

Japan: Inspectors urge Japan to dump water from Fukushima  plant into ocean

India:  could develop thermonuclear weapons: it is secretly enriching uranium.

South Africa: All sorts of secret manipulations going on there, in regard to its nuclear agreement with Russia – and that is by no means a done deal. 

Canada:  Lavalin, the company promoting thorium nuclear reactors faces rare corporate fraud and bribery charges

USA: Documents show that US Navy knew that sailors on USS Reagan received dangerous radiation.   Another $8 billion added to the $14 billion cost of Nuclear Plant Vogtle.   Big Solar Energy is taking off, as corporations discover its advantages.  USA’s Tea Party – 85 groups join movement for solar energy!  “Clean Coal” not a goer, for White House –support withdrawn.

UK: Nuclear subsidies for Hinkley Point facility will cost far more than is claimed. Litvinenko radiation murder court case continues.

China’s delay in building reactors is watched in concern by US nuclear industry

February 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

India could develop thermonuclear weapons: it is secretly enriching uranium

text-relevantIndia nuke enrichment plant expansion operational in 2015IHS BY DOUGLAS BUSVINENEW DELHI Fri Jun 20, 2014 (Reuters) – India is expanding a covert uranium enrichment plant that could potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons, a defence research group said on Friday, raising the stakes in an arms race with China and Pakistan.

The revelation highlights a lack of nuclear safeguards on India under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while sanctions-bound Iran faces minute scrutiny in talks with world powers over its own nuclear programme.

New units at the Indian Rare Metals Plant would boost India’s ability to produce weapons-grade uranium to twice the amount needed for its planned nuclear-powered submarine fleet, IHS Jane’s said.

The facility, located near Mysore in southern India, could be operational by mid-2015, the research group said, basing its findings on analysis of satellite imagery and public statements by Indian officials.

“Taking into account all the enriched uranium likely to be needed by the Indian nuclear submarine fleet, there is likely to be a significant excess,” Matthew Clements, editor of IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review, told Reuters.

“One potential use of this would be for the development of thermonuclear weapons.” No comment was available from the Indian government press office or the foreign ministry. Pakistan reacted with consternation, with a senior aide to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying the news underscored India’s “established hegemony”…….http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/06/20/india-nuclear-idINKBN0EV0JR20140620

February 21, 2015 Posted by | India, Uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive isotopes blow around Europe still, from forest fires in Chernobyl areas

wildfire-nukeChernobyl Radiation Still Blows Across Europe http://www.earthweek.com/2015/ew150220/ew150220b.html Lingering fallout in the soil around Ukraine’s crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant is still spreading over parts of Europe when local wildfires lift the contamination into the atmosphere.

Nearly 30 years after arguably the world’s worst nuclear accident, a new study led by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research used satellite images from 2002, 2008 and 2010 to detect three fires in the forests of Ukraine and Belarus near Chernobyl.

The findings were then compared with measurements of radioactive cesium-137 deposited on the area, and fed into models of air movements and fires.

Smoke from the fires was found to have carried between 2 and 8 percent of the cesium-137 in the soil as far south as Turkey and as far west as Italy and Scandinavia.

Even though the contamination was at nearly insignificant levels by the time it reached those areas, the researchers said better forest management and construction of fire breaks could help cut down on the Chernobyl area fires.

But they say the radiation seems to be inhibiting the decay of leaf litter on the ground that can help spark the blazes.  The contamination may have killed off the key insects and microorganisms that promote natural breakdown of the leaves.

February 21, 2015 Posted by | environment, EUROPE, Ukraine | Leave a comment

U.N. report shows that Iran has ceased advanced nuclear centrifuge testing

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranIran has stopped questionable nuclear centrifuge testing: IAEADaily Star, 20 Feb 15 VIENNA: Iran has refrained from expanding tests of more efficient models of a machine used to refine uranium under a nuclear agreement with six world powers, a U.N. report shows, allaying concerns it might be violating the accord.
Tehran’s development of advanced centrifuges is sensitive because, if successful, it could enable it to produce potential nuclear bomb material at a rate several times that of the decades-old version of the machine now in use. …….
A confidential document by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), distributed among its member states Thursday and obtained by Reuters, showed the IR-5 had been disconnected.

“The disconnection reflects Iran addressing concerns about its enrichment [of uranium],” said the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), which closely tracks Iran’s nuclear program.

“The disconnection provides additional confidence that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action,” it said, referring to the 2013 agreement……….  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Feb-20/288170-iran-has-stopped-questionable-nuclear-centrifuge-testing-iaea.ashx#sthash.P1yKqZWQ.dpuf

February 21, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy business dying a slow death?

terminal-nuclear-industryIs There Any Hope Left For Nuclear Energy? By Nick Cunningham, Oil Price.com , 19 February 2015 “…… the IEA notes that the nuclear industry is going to need to demonstrate that it can build new power plants on time and within budget. On this objective, the industry is failing miserably. Nuclear power plants have often suffered from cost overruns and delays, one factor (among many) that put the industry into a decades-long lull beginning in the early 1980’s. The so-called “nuclear renaissance” was thought to put an end to these problems with a new generation of designs and modular construction. So far, it hasn’t played out that way.

One of the showcases of the nuclear renaissance was a reactor to be built by Areva in Finland. Using a new generation technology, the reactor would boast enhanced safety systems and demonstrate lower cost and more timely construction. However, after starting construction in 2005 and slated to be completed in 2009, several delays have pushed off its completion and dramatically inflated costs. Areva now hopes to complete the project by late 2018, more than a decade behind schedule and perhaps at double its initial estimated cost.

In the United States, President Barack Obama has placed a lot of faith in the nuclear renaissance, granting loan guarantees to two new nuclear reactors now under construction in Georgia. he reactors will use the Westinghouse AP1000, a new design that promises simplification and safety that will cut down on construction times…..

Unfortunately, in January 2015 Southern Company, the owner of the Georgia reactors, announced that their completion would be delayed by 18 months and cost an additional $720 million. The reactors could end up being completed of three years behind the initial schedule. As the first newly licensed nuclear reactors in three decades, the inability to complete the project on time could put a chill on the already moribund construction queue. Even Southern Company’s CEO, who has been a big proponent of nuclear power, downplayed the possibility his company would expand beyond Vogtle. …..

even in China reactors are being delayed. China’s most advanced reactor project announced its second delay in January. The project, using similar designs to the AP1000, may not be completed until 2016, three years behind schedule.

Meanwhile, a tidal wave of nuclear reactors will close down over the next 20 years as their operating licenses expire. There are 98 GW of nuclear capacity operatingin the U.S., many of which will see their lives end by the 2030s. And there are only about 5 GW under construction at this stage. In that context, there are huge question marks about the long-term viability for nuclear power in the United States…….it is unclear if even China can make up for the shrinking industry presence in the West, let alone meet the IEA’s ambitious scenario for 2050. http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Is-There-Any-Hope-Left-For-Nuclear-Energy.html

February 21, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Threats for oil drillers and others, in the Arctic’s submerged radioactive trash from Russia

The Norwegian government has spent more than $126 million on Russian nuclear safety projects in the last two decades, according to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

The 17,000 dumped containers are also a potential disaster, creating a minefield for oil companies looking to drill in the area, particularly because the exact locations of most of the containers are unknown.

The Soviet Union Dumped A Bunch of Nuclear Submarines, Reactors, and Containers into the Ocean https://news.vice.com/article/the-soviet-union-dumped-thousands-of-nuclear-submarines-reactors-and-containers-into-the-ocean By Laura Dattaro February 21, 2015 The 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine remains one of the worst nuclear incidents in history and highlighted the risks of generating power by splitting atoms. But it’s not the only nuclear waste the Soviet Union left behind. Scattered across the ocean floor in the cold waters of the Arctic are nuclear submarines and reactors dumped by the Soviets up until the early 1990s.

submarines-sunk-in-Arctic

Now, as energy companies are seeking to drill in those same waters, the Russian government has shown an interest in cleaning up its nuclear waste. But after decades of sitting on the ocean floor, some of the most dangerous pieces may be too unstable to remove, leaving the potential for radioactive material to leak, which could disrupt commercial fisheries and destroy aquatic ecosystems.

“Taking reactors and cutting out the bottom of your ships and letting them sink to the bottom is about as irresponsible as you can get when it comes to radioactive waste,” Jim Riccio, a nuclear expert with Greenpeace, told VICE News. “We’ve had some weird [behavior] in this country where we haven’t been all that great with it but nothing that rose to the level of what the Soviets had done.” Continue reading

February 21, 2015 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, wastes | Leave a comment

South Africa – Russia nuclear agreement is by no means a done deal

scrutiny-on-costsflag-S.Africaflag_RussiaSA’s nuclear deal with Russia is far from done, Mail & Guardian 20 FEB 2015  LISA STEYN Money is the big problem with the initial agreement Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed last year, given the financial positions of both countries.   Russia has emerged as an apparent frontrunner to participate in South Africa’s nuclear build, but selecting the technology is just the first of many challenges that could see a nuclear deal such as this come a cropper.

With the Russian economy in turmoil and the subsequent high cost of borrowing, its ability to raise the funding for its nuclear ambitions in many countries is being called into question – as is its ability to deliver on time.

For South Africa, it is even more of a mystery how the government will provide the loan guarantees that would be required, given that so many have been extended to ailing parastatals such as Eskom and SAA. The state may have hit its limit.

Regardless of which vendor is chosen, the guarantees and the government’s 50% localisation target for the project appear to be insurmountable obstacles, particularly given the challenges faced by the domestic construction industry.

The memorandum of understanding signed between Russia and South Africa last year is far more than a generic agreement, as the government had claimed it is. Rather, it lays the groundwork for government-to-government contracting, in terms that heavily favour Russia, the Mail & Guardian reported last week.

Not only will the agreement be binding for 20 years once in force, but the Russians will also be indemnified from any liability arising from nuclear accidents during the reactors’ life. Russia is also granted a host of regulatory concessions and favourable tax and other financial treatment. The designated competent authorities are South Africa’s department of energy and Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation.

But unresolved issues could make the deal unworkable. An industry expert, who did not wish to be named, said: “My own view is I don’t think the guys driving it from the South African side have joined the dots. I don’t have huge confidence in the people running it and that they understand the issues.”

Financing
Despite the apparent commitment to forge ahead with Russian technology, the agreement defers a decision about funding.

The Russians are known to have offered South Africa a “build, own, operate” construction deal, according to which Russia would build and run the nuclear station, and sell the power to South Africa at an agreed price. This kind of vendor-assisted financing may be the only way South Africa could afford to go nuclear. But the bigger question now is: Can Russia?

First, sanctions have been imposed on Russia for its military intervention in the Ukraine. Then the oil price tumbled, severely hitting government revenues, which are heavily reliant on oil and gas taxes. Subsequently, the rouble has lost almost 50% of its value since the start of 2014, inflation has soared to 15%, and its sovereign credit rating was cut to sub-investment grade by one agency in January. And, in 2014 alone, $151-billion was taken out of the country.

Some nuclear economists and industry insiders believe this dire state of affairs could affect Russia’s nuclear ambitions, as new builds involve high upfront costs and are extremely sensitive to the cost of financing, which is mainly the interest rates at which the funding is secured…….

Delays
The unnamed industry expert, however, expressed concern that Russia might commit itself to a further agreement but not honour it. He said other nations that had signed nuclear deals with Russia, such as Vietnam, India and Turkey, had all experienced delays………….. http://mg.co.za/article/2015-02-19-sas-nuclear-deal-with-russia-is-far-from-done

February 21, 2015 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

IAEA might review its conclusions on Iran’s atomic program: CIA “doctored” evidence

secret-agent-SmFlag-USAflag-IranCIA-planted ‘evidence’ may force IAEA review of alleged Iranian nuclear arms program – report, Rt.com 
February 21, 2015   
Doctored blueprints for nuclear weapon components supplied to Iran by the CIA 15 years ago could force the IAEA to review its conclusions on Iran’s atomic program, which was potentially based on misleading intelligence, Bloomberg reports.

The details of the Central Intelligence Agency operation back in 2000 were made public as part of a judicial hearing into a case involving Jeffrey Sterling, an agent convicted of leaking classified information on CIA spying against Iran.

“The goal is to plant this substantial piece of deception information on the Iranian nuclear-weapons program, sending them down blind alleys, wasting their time and money,” a May 1997 CIA cable submitted to the court reads.

The intelligence in question pertains to fake designs of atomic components that were transferred to Iran in February 2000. Now it turns out the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could be forced to reassess their earlier conclusions regarding Iran’s atomic program, the publication quoted two anonymous Western diplomats as saying. Part of the IAEA’s suspicions about the alleged Iran’s nuclear weapons program relies on information provided by multiple intelligence agencies.

“This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find,”Peter Jenkins, the UK’s former envoy to the Vienna-based agency told Bloomberg. “That looks like a big problem.”……..http://rt.com/news/234271-cia-nuclear-evidence-iran-iaea/

February 21, 2015 Posted by | Iran, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

South Africa by-passes Constitution in top secret nuclear agreement with Russia

secret-dealsflag-S.Africa‘Top secret’ nuclear plan ducks scrutiny   Mail & Guardian 20 FEB 2015 00:00 LIONEL FAULL, SAM SOLE & STEFAANS BRÜMMER Bureaucrats driving the new build programme seem comfortable skirting transparency and fair value. In a “top secret” presentation, the energy department has proposed a closed government-to-government procurement of new nuclear power stations instead of a transparent and competitive ­tender.

If adopted, this would pave the way for the nuclear co-operation agreement it concluded with Russia in September – or “similar” agreements it concluded with France and China after an outcry that it was favouring the Russians – to be implemented without pitting potential suppliers openly against each other.

This flies in the face of public assurances from the government that it would follow a competitive process.

During his State of the Nation address last week, President Jacob Zuma said all countries that bid “will be engaged in a fair, transparent and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner, or partners, to undertake the nuclear build programme”.

If the mooted six to eight nuclear power stations are built, it will be South Africa’s most expensive procurement yet, at roughly R1-trillion.

The agreement with Russia, revealed by amaBhungane last week, states that the South African government is prepared to give Russia the exclusive rights to its nuclear build programme for a minimum of 20 years. During that time, Russia could block South Africa from procuring nuclear technology from any other country.

The agreement is not yet binding, as it requires the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces to ratify it.

The French and Chinese agreements remain undisclosed.

The energy department’s recommendations on the procurement method are contained in a separate document obtained by amaBhungane. It is marked “top secret” and was prepared for presentation to the national nuclear energy executive co-ordination committee in October 2013.  This was a Cabinet committee comprising the ministers and government officials directly responsible for implementing the new nuclear programme and was chaired by President Jacob Zuma………..

Despite the apparent global tendency to conclude nuclear tenders one on one, and behind closed doors, the lack of transparency is likely to jar with what South Africa’s Constitution says about procurement.

According to section 217, “when an organ of state … contracts for goods or services, it must do so in accordance with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective”……..

History doomed to repeat itself
The last time the government bypassed the Constitution on a major public procurement, the deal went badly wrong…….. The lessons of the Airbus debacle are there to be learned, so it remains to be seen whether section 217 will be bypassed again.

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.   http://mg.co.za/article/2015-02-19-top-secret-nuclear-plan-ducks-scrutiny

February 21, 2015 Posted by | politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

$12.5 Billion For Renewable Energy Funding from India’s largest bank

piggy-ban-renewablesflag-indiaIndia’s Largest Bank Commits $12.5 Billion For Renewable Energy Funding  Clean Technica February 19th, 2015 by   Private sector project developers in India’s rapidly growing renewable energy would be happy to have the backing of the country’s largest bank as they get ready to participate in cut-throat competitive bidding.

The State Bank of India (SBI) has committed to provide $12.5 billion in debt funding to renewable energy projects over the next few years. The announcement was made at the RE-INVEST summit organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The bank hopes to provide debt financing to 15 GW of renewable energy projects, most of which are likely to be based on wind and solar energy…….

Over the last few years some private banks in India have signed deals with development banks to provide loans at concessional rates. The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is also expected to provide loans at low rates following its recent agreements with the European Investment Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the US Export-Import Bank……

This announcement by the country’s largest bank and the recent funding agreement worth $4 billion with the US is expected to boost the growth of the Indian renewable energy sector.

 works as a senior solar engineer at Mott MacDonald, a reputed engineering and management consultancy. She has conducted due diligence of several solar PV projects in India and Southeast Asia. She has keen interest in renewable energy, green buildings, environmental sustainability, and biofuels. She currently resides in New Delhi, India.   http://cleantechnica.com/2015/02/19/indias-largest-bank-commits-12-5-billion-renewable-energy-funding/

February 21, 2015 Posted by | India, renewable | Leave a comment

World Uranium Symposium – a first for Quebec April 14 to 16

text-Please-NoteFor the first time in Quebec, Canada: World Uranium Symposium http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1489785/for-the-first-time-in-quebec-canada-world-uranium-symposium 

QUEBEC CITY, Feb. 19 2015 /CNW Telbec/ – The World Uranium Symposium will be held for the first uranium-oretime inQuebec City, Canada, from April 14 to 16, at the Centre des congrès de Québec. Organized by medical associations and civil society partners, the symposium will welcome more than 100 national and international specialists who will examine major questions associated with the nuclear fuel chain, including issues related to economic trends in the industry, safety and governance, social and environmental aspects, health, ethics, human rights, and indigenous peoples’ rights (register online: www.uranium2015.com/en). Continue reading

February 21, 2015 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

MR SENTI THOBEJANE – the secret voice behind South Africa’s covert nuclear power plans

Whether or not he is appointed, Mr Thobejane already wields enviable power. He was instrumental in negotiating the nuclear co-operation agreements with Russia, France and China, which have been kept secret not just from the public but also from top government officials in the Department of Energy and the Treasury. The Cabinet is also yet to see the agreements……

With rational planning processes set aside, Mr Thobejane’s advice could turn out to be more influential than all the well-laid plans on paper.

secret-agentflag-S.AfricaHidden voice behind SA’s nuclear plans, Business Day  BY CAROL PATON, 20 FEBRUARY 2015 PRESIDENTIAL AND DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ADVISER SENTI THOBEJANE IS CERTAINLY NO HOUSEHOLD NAME, BUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS ADVICE WILL BE FELT IN YEARS TO COME IN EACH HOUSEHOLD AND BUSINESS OF THE FUTURE.

Mr Thobejane is one of SA’s most influential people. As adviser to Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and a frequent adviser to President Jacob Zuma, he is in the uniquely powerful position of having direct channels to the two most important people in the Cabinet at the precise moment that SA contemplates radical decisions in its energy future.

So who is Senti Thobejane and what are his views on the big questions of the day?

Mr Thobejane is a US-schooled physicist and an ardent supporter of nuclear energy, a sector in which he has been involved for a good part of his life. His passion for nuclear energy and knowledge of energy matters has put him at the side of Mr Zuma in recent trips to China and Russia.

It has also made him a key figure in the Cabinet’s subcommittee on energy security that is overseeing SA’s nuclear procurement, as well as in the negotiations on international agreements for nuclear co-operation Continue reading

February 21, 2015 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

UK wind power surges: UK on track to meet renewable energy targets

UK on track to meet its renewable energy targets Guardian, , 20 Feb 15,Wind power has surged while gas use has fallen by over a fifth, putting UK on course to meet 2020 clean energy and climate goals. The UK is on track to meet its renewable energy goals, with wind power substituting for gas and coal use and driving down greenhouse gas emissions, according to new analyses. However, the actions of the next government are likely to be crucial in deciding whether the legally binding targets can be met.

Gas use in the UK fell by more than a fifth from 2005 to 2012, as energy efficiency increased across the economy and green energy took up more of the burden.

Under European Union targets, the UK must produce 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, and is one of a small number of big member states to be judged on track to meet all of its energy and climate commitments by the European environment agency.

This was confirmed on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics, which found that 15% of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2013. This puts the UK about halfway towards its commitments, because the overall energy target includes transport and heating, as well as electricity generation. For the UK to meet its EU goals, electricity generation from renewable sources is likely to have to increase to above 30% by 2020……..

The rise in renewables while gas use fell also highlights the competition that clean energy represents to gas. Gas companies have been keen to emphasise the fuel as a “greener” alternative to coal – it burns more cleanly, producing much less carbon dioxide and none of some other pollutants associated with coal – and as a “transition” fuel that can help the move to a low-carbon economy alongside the use of renewable.

However, many in the green sector are concerned that investment in renewable alternatives could suffer if gas is prioritised. Many of Europe’s biggest players in renewable energy are power companies that still generate large amounts of their output from fossil fuels.

Renewable UK, the trade association for the wind industry, said renewable power generators were “doing their bit” towards the UK’s targets, but that fossil fuel use in transport and heating remained relatively high. For renewables to cut transport emissions too, through electric cars, the next government needs to show support for wind power, they said…….

Gordon Edge, Renewable UK’s director of policy said: “Onshore and offshore wind farms have been growing rapidly and are now generating more than half of our clean electricity. The question is whether the UK will make fast enough progress on renewable heat and renewable transport as well – that’s looking less certain. If there’s a shortfall in those areas, we’ll need to generate more renewable electricity to hit the target.

“The cheapest way to do this would be to install more onshore wind, which is why it’s utterly baffling that the Conservative party is proposing to cap the development of onshore wind if they’re elected in May.”………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/20/uk-on-track-to-meet-its-renewable-energy-targets

February 21, 2015 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Lavalin, the company promoting thorium nuclear reactors faces rare corporate fraud and bribery charges

bribery handshakeflag-canadaSNC-Lavalin faces rare corporate fraud and bribery charges LES PERREAUX, JEFF GRAY AND BERTRAND MAROTTE MONTREAL and TORONTO — The Globe and Mail, Feb. 19 2015, The RCMP have laid rare corporate fraud and bribery charges against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. after protracted negotiations with prosecutors failed to reach a settlement, threatening the future of an enormous Canadian firm that builds infrastructure around the world.

While former company executives already face criminal charges related to bribing Libyan officials – former vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa has pleaded guilty to Swiss charges – a series of scandals has shown a culture of breaking ethics rules in the company’s executive suite prior to 2012. These are the first charges targeting the company as a whole.

SNC is accused of using at least $47.7-million to bribe Libyan officials. A second count is for fraud of about $130-million related to construction projects in Libya. SNC responded quickly, saying the alleged activities took place between 2001 and 2011 and the people involved have been fired. The company says it has co-operated with authorities for the past three years and intends to plead not guilty.

A source familiar with the investigation said settlement talks between SNC-Lavalin and prosecutors were close to a deal in October.

As part of any deal, the company was expected to face a multimillion-dollar fine. But the possibility that a guilty plea could automatically trigger a 10-year ban on winning Canadian government contracts “complicated everything” and must have been among the factors that scuppered the settlement, the source said.

Long considered soft on anti-corruption enforcement, Canada’s international reputation may benefit from the charges, according to one of the country’s staunchest critics.

“This is a step in advance. Canada is actually gaining ground on its past,” said Mark Pieth, a criminal law professor at the University of Basel in Switzerland and the former chairman of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s bribery working group.

“Finally. I had waited for action against the company for a long time.”

Business analysts played down any immediate threat to the company, saying charges and an eventual fine of up to $300-million were expected. But chief executive Robert Card was unequivocal when he told The Globe and Mail last fall SNC could be broken up or “cease to exist” if the company were convicted and barred from Canadian government contracts for 10 years. He said even laying charges could be damaging enough to SNC’s reputation to pose a threat…..

Riyaz Dattu, a Toronto lawyer with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP who advises companies on corruption issues, said the charges for SNC-Lavalin are a dire warning for other Canadian companies that they need to bring in stronger anti-corruption controls and new training for employees to ensure bribes are not being paid around the world.

“The message is coming through loud and clear to corporate Canada,” Mr. Dattu said.

The Libyan allegations are not the only corruption troubles facing SNC. Ethics probes have involved SNC employees who worked on projects in Algeria, Bangladesh and Montreal. Mr. Ben Aissa is at the centre of many of the allegations, including fraud and corruption charges related to building a Montreal hospital……….http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/snc-lavalin-faces-rare-corporate-fraud-and-bribery-charges/article23108284/

February 21, 2015 Posted by | Canada, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Big Solar Energy is taking off, as corporations discover its advantages

At corporations, the mentality has shifted from being willing to spend a little more money to use green power to viewing the shift to green power as a way to save money.

renewable energy—for so long a flaky, small-scale enterprise—has developed into an industrial-strength solution that affords big companies the opportunity to lock in the cost of electricity over a period of 20 to 25 years

Each of these new, large-scale transactions will displace and obviate the need for power produced from fossil fuels.

solar-concentrated

 


highly-recommendedBig Solar:
 Renewable energy finally makes sense as a utility—and that’s why it’s becoming a threat to coal. http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_juice/2015/02/apple_kaiser_permanente_solar_investments_renewable_energy_is_finally_a.html

By  When it comes to innovation, businesses often follow the lead of government. Take large-scale renewable power—especially solar. Before the 2009 stimulus package, solar power was nowhere in this country. But the same program that brought us the Solyndra debacle offered loan guarantees for the first efforts to build truly massive, utility-scale projects—ones that could supply massive quantities of energy and theoretically replace plants fired by fossil fuels.
Those projects worked. America now is home to the world’s two largest solar plants. California’s Desert Sunlight and Topaz facilities each have a capacity of 550 megawatts. Both were made possible by Energy Department loans.

Once the technologies were proven, and the costs began to come down, investors and operators stepped in. Companies put up plants, and then made deals with utilities to buy the output—often at a price above the cost of electricity created by coal plants. Utilities complied in part because of state requirements that they source a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources.

Now we’re entering a new stage. Companies in sectors such as technology, health care, and consumer products—all big consumers of power—are striking deals to purchase huge amounts of renewable energy from newly constructed plants

This is different than companies putting up a solar array, or buying some carbon offsets, or making token greenness gestures. They are conjuring into existence new infrastructure that can’t help but replace coal. Continue reading

February 21, 2015 Posted by | renewable, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment