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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Time to stop the secrecy on nuclear reports,by SCE&G, its parent company SCANA, and Santee Cooper

No excuse for secrecy, http://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/editorials/no-excuse-for-secrecy/article_10c74bc4-8e96-11e7-afd6-03e74390c340.html, 1 Sept 17 As lawmakers and state officials investigate the failure to complete construction on two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County, the responsible parties — SCE&G, its parent company SCANA, and Santee Cooper — owe the hundreds of thousands of customers who have already helped pay for the project a full and thorough explanation.

That includes supplying every piece of documentation and evidence available as regards the nearly decade-long effort.

Troublingly, neither Santee Cooper nor SCE&G appear to have been forthcoming with a particularly intriguing report produced by Bechtel, an engineering and project management company. The Post and Courier reported on Thursday that SCANA and Santee Cooper officials testified under oath about the Bechtel document — specifically that it exists — which was news to officials at the state Office of Regulatory Staff, who had been told otherwise by SCE&G after repeated requests.

Now, SCANA is claiming that the document cannot be handed over to lawmakers investigating the debacle since it contains privileged information that could be used in a lawsuit against lead contractor Westinghouse.

Santee Cooper, which is a state agency that answers to Gov. Henry McMaster, has similarly refused access, even to Mr. McMaster himself.

For SCANA, refusal to hand over a document that could provide critical information to investigators amounts to an unacceptable hindrance of an effort to save ratepayers from having to pay off as much as $2.2 billion over the next six decades for power plants they will never use.

For Santee Cooper, stonewalling the governor could be fairly described as insubordination. Santee Cooper is a state agency and Mr. McMaster is the chief executive officer of the state.

The Bechtel report was ordered when problems began to arise during the construction process on the reactors. It reportedly contains recommendations for getting the project back on track and avoiding delays and budgetary woes.

If state officials can prove that SCE&G ignored the advice or was insufficiently prudent in implementing it, it could help customers avoid having to pay some or all of the costs associated with the failed project, as part of a critical clause in the disastrously misguided Base Load Review Act.

 In other words, it is a key document, and there is no acceptable excuse for denying access to the state’s regulators, lawmakers and the governor.

Members of the state House and Senate investigative committees have threatened to subpoena if the Bechtel report is not turned over in a timely fashion. They should not hesitate to do so.

In the meantime, SCANA and Santee Cooper must be completely forthcoming with not just one critical document but with every relevant piece of evidence that can help explain just what went wrong leading to one of the state’s costliest-ever economic disasters.

At the least, the utilities owe it to the many South Carolinians who already have been collectively charged $1 billion for a plant that apparently will never go on line.

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September 2, 2017 - Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

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