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Redress for nuclear industry whistleblowers in USA

Redress for nuclear industry whistleblowers

In a recently published fact sheet, OSHA reminds contractors, subcontractors, and licensees of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and contractors and subcontractors of the Department of Energy (DOE) that their employees are protected from retaliation for reporting potential violations of the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA) or the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) to their employers or to the government.

According to OSHA, retaliation comprises a wide range of actions, including firing or laying off, blacklisting, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, disciplining, denying benefits, failing to hire or rehire, intimidation, reassignment affecting promotion prospects, reducing pay or hours, and making threats.

Affected employers

Under the ERA, employees of the following employers are protected from retaliation for engaging in protected activity:

  • NRC licensees and applicants for licenses, including the Tennessee Valley Authority;
  • NRC contractors and subcontractors;
  • Contractors and subcontractors of NRC licensees and applicants for licenses;
  • Agreement state licensees and applicants for licenses from agreement states, including their contractors and subcontractors; and
  • Certain DOE contractors and subcontractors.

Protected actions

Employees of the above entities may not be discharged or otherwise retaliated against because the employee:

  • Notified the employer of an alleged violation of the ERA or the AEA;
  • Refused to engage in any practice that is unlawful under the ERA or the AEA if the employee has identified the alleged illegality to the employer;
  • Testified before Congress or at any federal or state proceeding regarding any provision (or proposed provision) of the ERA or the AEA;
  • Commenced a proceeding, caused a proceeding to be commenced, or is about to commence or cause to be commenced a proceeding under the ERA or the AEA;
  • Testified, assisted, or participated in or is about to testify, assist, or participate in a proceeding under the ERA or AEA; or
  • Assisted, participated in, or is about to assist or participate in any other action to carry out the purposes of the ERA or the AEA.

Filing requirements

The major burden for an employee seeking redress for alleged illegal retaliation is that the complaint must be filed with OSHA within 180 days after the employee was notified of the action taken against her or him. Otherwise the process is relatively simple. The employee or his or her representative can file an ERA complaint with OSHA by visiting or calling his or her local OSHA office, sending a written complaint to the closest OSHA office, or filing a complaint online. No particular form is required, and complaints may be submitted in any language. Also:

  • Written complaints may be filed by fax, electronic communication, hand delivery during business hours, U.S. mail (confirmation services recommended), or other third-party commercial carrier.
  • The date of the postmark, fax, electronic communication, telephone call, hand delivery, delivery to a third-party commercial carrier, or in-person filing at an OSHA office is considered the date filed.

What OSHA will do

If the complaint is filed on time, OSHA will investigate it according to procedures at 29 CFR Part 24.

“If the evidence supports an employee’s complaint of retaliation, OSHA will issue an order requiring the employer to, as appropriate, put the employee back to work, pay lost wages, restore benefits, and provide other possible relief,” states OSHA. “The exact requirements will depend on the facts of the case. If the evidence does not support the employee’s complaint, OSHA will dismiss the complaint.”

After OSHA issues a decision, the employer and/or the employee may request a full hearing before an administrative law judge of the Department of Labor (DOL). The judge’s decision may be appealed to DOL’s Administrative Review Board. The employee may also file a complaint in federal court if the Department does not issue a final decision within 365 days.

DOE’s program

Also, the DOE has established regulations at 10 CFR Part 708 to protect employees of DOE contractors against reprisal by the employer for specific employee actions that largely mirror OSHA’s protected actions listed above.

Procedures for filing a complaint under Part 708 differ from OSHA’s procedures and are generally considered more difficult to navigate. For example, the complaint must be filed within 90 days of the alleged retaliation; the complaint must be filed in writing; and the complaint may not be filed if it is based on the same facts for which the employee already requested a remedy from OSHA, under Federal Acquisition whistleblower protection regulations for contract employees, or from a state government.

In July 2016, the Government Accountability Office reported on DOE’s Part 708 program and recommended improvements.

OSHA’s fact sheet is available here.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Arctic climate change: The northern Barents Sea has warmed 1.5 degrees Celsius in just 18 years

Huge part of Arctic ocean is shifting to an Atlantic climate, study finds
The northern Barents Sea has warmed 1.5 degrees Celsius in just 18 years,
Independent, Chris Mooney 28 June 1

June 29, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Toronto schools want anti-radiation pills in case of nuclear incident at Pickering plant By  June 28, 2018

The boundary would encompass almost all of the city’s schools and goes well beyond the current distribution radius of 10 kilometres, said Trustee Jerry Chadwick, who was part of committee that made the recommendation recently approved by the Toronto District School Board.

“All of our schools east of Morningside Ave. have had the potassium pills for years,” said Chadwick, who represents Ward 22 in the southeast end of Scarborough. “The TDSB did not have to request them, they were provided as part of the range covered by Pickering.

“Now we are asking them to cover schools in the 50-kilometre radius, which covers most of our schools.”

The issue of schools being provided with stockpiles of potassium iodide, or “KI” pills — which protect the thyroid in case of radiation exposure — dominated hearings held on the future of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, said attendee Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace.

In Greater Toronto, there are two plants — Pickering, about 30 kilometres from Toronto’s Yonge St., and Darlington, which is about 60 kilometres away.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

British govt clings to the old dream of ‘cheap’ nuclear power: UK environmentalists are not buying it!

Business Green 28th June 2018 Green groups expressed scepticism at the industry’s ability to drive down
costs and challenge increasingly cost-competitive renewables. “Promises
that costs of nuclear power will come down have historically been proved
false over the past 50 years,” said Greenpeace UK’s policy director Doug

“Fortunately for the nuclear industry, the repeated broken promises
have been met by a stream of new or impressionable UK politicians coming
into power and offering to spend taxpayers’ money on bad investments.

Unfortunately for the nuclear industry, most other developed nations have
realised that nuclear power is being outcompeted by cheap renewables, and
have given nuclear either no role at all, or only a bit part, in their
future energy plans.

Only the UK government is left clinging on to the old
fashioned dream of ‘cheap’ nuclear power, unwilling to admit that more
affordable and reliable power is coming from renewables and smart
technology, and without the risks and liabilities that extortionate new
nuclear builds create.”

June 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

A glut of plutonium pits. Oh great! USA can make more nuclear weapons

DOE considering new locations, weapons uses for some SRS plutonium By Colin Demarest

Jun 29, 2018

      ,In order to remove 1 metric ton of defense plutonium from South Carolina within two years, as a federal court has required, the U.S. Department of Energy is considering the plutonium’s nuclear weapon uses.

According to a June 13 progress report, the DOE and its National Nuclear Security Administration are re-examining the possibility of repurposing some Savannah River Site plutonium for “future defense programs.”

“Approximately 1 metric ton was identified for possible use by the weapons production program,” the report reads. “The amount of candidate programmatic material at SRS is limited; most of the surplus material is not suitable for weapons program use.”

  • The DOE’s prospective plan would shift the plutonium from SRS to another site, either for interim storage or plutonium pit production.

    Plutonium pits are nuclear weapon cores, often referred to as triggers.

    Potential out-of-state relocation sites for the 1 metric ton of plutonium have been identified, according to the DOE.

    The June report did not specify where. Site studies concluded in April.

    Environmental impact assessments for moving the plutonium, required by the National Environmental Policy Act, are already underway and could be completed by the end of 2018, the report notes.

    In 2017, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the DOE to remove 1 metric ton of plutonium from the state within two years, the result of a lawsuit launched by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson. At the time, Wilson celebrated the ruling as a major win.

    The DOE has stated disposing 1 ton of plutonium via downblending, also known as dilute-and-dispose, would take until fiscal year 2025 to complete at current funding and operation levels. A court-received declaration made by Henry Allen Gunter, then a plutonium program manager and technical adviser at SRS, reinforced the DOE’s claim.

    More funding and more trained personnel, according to the June report, would speed things up.

  • But planning related to dilute-and-dispose – mixing plutonium with inert material for burial at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico – ceased in June due to another court order that protected the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility.
  • The defense- and weapons-use option, according to the DOE’s report, vastly undercuts the 2025 estimate: “Indeed, the department believes that it is possible that, if successful, this option might allow the department to meet the current two-year timeline imposed by the district court,” the report reads.

    According to the DOE, the plutonium is “safe and secure in its present location.” Moving it costs money and poses radiological, safety and security concerns, all of which are listed at the end of the report.

    Eventually, the plutonium would have to be moved to Los Alamos National Laboratory or back to SRS for pit production.

    On May 10, the DOE and the U.S. Department of Defense recommended a pit production mission for SRS, which muddies the waters a bit. Those plans have not yet been finalized.

    Los Alamos currently does not have enough room for the 1 metric ton, the DOE report states. Holding it at an interim location incurs additional costs.

    More information and detail, including timing, will be made available in December, the June report states.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Asia will cop huge climate change effects over the coming decades

Half of South Asia living in vulnerable climate ‘hotspots’: World Bank Menon– 29 June 18 

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Changes in temperature and rainfall will impact almost half of South Asia in the coming decades, reducing economic growth in one of the world’s poorest regions, the World Bank said.

A World Bank report released on Thursday analyses two scenarios – “climate sensitive”, based on collective action by nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and “carbon intensive”, which assumes no action on climate change.

The report combines future changes in temperature and rainfall with household survey data linking living standards to weather conditions for the first time.

More than 800 million people now live in areas predicted to become moderate-to-severe “hotspots”, or affected areas, by 2050 under the carbon intensive scenario, with India accounting for almost three quarters of them, the report said.

Moderate hotspots are areas where projected consumption spending declines by 4-8 percent and severe ones are where the drop exceeds 8 percent.

“There seems to be some kind of correlation between climate hotspots and water stressed areas,” Muthukumara Mani, a World Bank economist, said.

The World Bank’s expectation of about half of India living in moderately or severely-affected areas by 2050 tallies with a federal think tank’s report two weeks ago. This warned that 600 million Indians could suffer high to extreme water stress as the country faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history.

Rising temperature and changing monsoon rainfall patterns from climate change could cost India 2.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and depress the living standards of one in every two Indians by 2050, the World Bank report said.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

France’s anti nuclear activists not imprisoned

Greenpeace France 28th June 2018 The verdict of the trial of Privas, where Greenpeace France, one of his employees and 22 activists were judged on May 17 following an intrusion into the Cruas-Meysse nuclear power plant, fell. Despite EDF’s will to attack our activists, none of them have been sentenced to imprisonment.

Yannick Rousselet, a nuclear campaigner prosecuted for complicity, was released. EDF’s strategy to demand heavier prison sentences and colossal damages to Greenpeace to dissuade us from denouncing nuclear risk has failed.

The lawsuit against Greenpeace France, his campaign campaigner, Yannick Rousselet, and 22 activists of the organization was held May 17 at the tribunal de grande instance Privas in Ardeche. The verdict was made public six weeks later.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | France, legal | Leave a comment

Public sessions in North Wales on plans for Wylfa nuclear power station

North Wales Chronicle 28th June 2018 , PEOPLE are being asked for their views on Horizon Nuclear Power Wylfa
Ltd’s permit applications by Natural Resources Wales. The applications
are for three environmental permits and a marine licence, required to build
and operate the proposed nuclear power station on Anglesey. The
consultation period has opened and runs until September 6, 2018. NRW is
holding three public drop-in sessions as part of the process and these are
on: Monday. July 16, 1pm-6.30pm at Storiel, Bangor, LL57 1DT.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

June 29 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “These Are the Toughest Emissions to Cut, and a Big Chunk of the Climate Problem” • Efforts to tackle climate change typically focus on renewable energy or cleaner cars. Without improving shipping, cement, and steel, however, major greenhouse gas pollution sources will be locked in for generations, new research shows. [InsideClimate News] ¶ […]

via June 29 Energy News — geoharvey

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear lobby appears to be winning, but the Tidal Lagoon Energy movement has not given up

BBC 29th June 2018 Developers hoping to pitch new tidal power stations to the UK government
have vowed to carry on with their plans despite the rejection of the
Swansea Bay lagoon.

One called on ministers to set up a competitive
tendering process. Energy Secretary Greg Clark said he was “enthusiastic”
about the technology if it could prove to be value for money. The company
behind the Swansea Bay scheme is considering its next steps.

Tidal Lagoon Power’s (TLP) £1.3bn “pathfinder” project, touted as a world-first, was
turned down by the UK government on Monday. after it was deemed too
expensive. The aim was for it to lead to a fleet of larger, more powerful
lagoons in Cardiff, Newport, Bridgewater Bay, Colwyn Bay and off the coast
of Cumbria. The decision came 18 months after an independent review,
commissioned by the UK government, had urged ministers to plough ahead.

Other developers also looking to build lagoons have been following the
situation closely. Henry Dixon, chair of North Wales Tidal Energy (NWTE)
said the government had made the “wrong decision” but that would not deter
his company from “continuing to develop and promote” its own plans. He
claimed NWTE’s proposal for a £7bn lagoon, stretching from Llandudno
eastwards towards Talacre in Flintshire, would stack up in terms of costs
as it could generate more energy and revenue than the much smaller Swansea
scheme. There were also added benefits in terms of flood prevention, he
claimed. Dale Vince, who founded Ecotricity, one of the UK’s biggest
providers of renewable energy, believes he can build cheaper lagoons in the
Solway Firth. This approach differs to TLP’s as the lagoons would be
entirely offshore, instead of being attached to the coastline. “There is
plenty of time to have a competitive tender and to get this right – as the
government have said this week,” Mr Vince said. “Swansea Bay was too
expensive and it doesn’t make sense to do it, especially when not just
other forms of renewable energy are much cheaper but other approaches to
tidal energy are too.” “We’re hoping that the government now turns round,
on the back of this decision, and creates a proper competitive process for
tidal lagoons.”

June 29, 2018 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

In South Africa, there’s confusion about the new government’s policy on matters nuclear

Nuclear energy: Ramaphosa’s mixed messages Ellen Davies and Saliem Fakir 

June 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Norwegian anti nuclear protest ship “Nora” sails to Sellafield to campaign for the closure of the nuclear plant.

Fraserburgh Herald 28th June 2018 ,The ‘Nora’ is an open-decked wind-powered wooden Norwegian boat which
has been sailing along the Norwegian coast for the last three years
bringing attention to claims of radioactive discharge from the Sellafield
nuclear plant.

Nora is sailing under the direction of the Neptune Network,
a private foundation established in April 2001 with the aim of stopping the
destruction of environment and nature. The crew arrived in Fraserburgh on
Monday morning after a tough voyage over the North Sea having left Bergen
on June 15. While in port they met up with fellow Norwegian Anders Blix who
lives at Memsie and who kindly took pictures for the Herald. After making
some small repairs and picking up supplies,

Nora left Fraserburgh crewed by
skipper Frank-Hugo Storelv along with Øystein Storelv and Roger Jenssen on
Tuesday afternoon heading for Inverness. Their plan is to sail through the
Caledonian Canal towards their destination at Sellafield to campaign for
the closure of the nuclear plant.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perrys claim: bailing out coal and nuclear industries so important that the cost doesn’t matter

Reuters 28th June 2018 , U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Thursday that bailing out
struggling coal and nuclear power plants is as important to national
security as keeping the military strong, and that the cost to Americans
should not be an issue.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Halden nuclear reactor shut down not just for safety reasons, more because it lost so much money

Halden Reactor to be decommissioned, WNN, 28 June 2018

The board of directors of Norway’s Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) has decided to close the Halden Reactor permanently and to start its decommissioning. The board will not apply to extend its operating licence, which expires in 2020, and the reactor, which is currently shut down due to a safety valve failure, will not be restarted……The Halden project is a joint undertaking of national organisations in 19 countries sponsoring a jointly financed programme under the auspices of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). The programme is financed by the participating countries and is renewed every three years. As the host country, Norway covers about 30% of the programme cost.

“In conjunction with the licence renewal process for the Halden Reactor, IFE has over the last year carried out a strategic review of reactor operations, including a financial and operational risk assessment. Based on this review, IFE’s Board concluded that operation of the reactor beyond the current licence period is not viable, as this would imply business risks in excess of what IFE is capable of handling on its own,” IFE said.

Over the past seven years, IFE has lost more than EUR18 million on its nuclear operation and has this year relied on extraordinary funding from the Norwegian government. As a self-owning foundation, IFE said it is not able to manage the financial risk of operating the reactor. ……

June 29, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE | Leave a comment

What happened last time it was as warm as it’s going to get later this century?

Kids today will be grandparents when most climate projections end—does the past have more hints? Ars Technica  HOWARD LEE – 

June 29, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment