nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Trump tax bill promotes polluting robots – and damages clean energy workers

Polluting robots win big, clean energy workers get screwed in Trump tax bill http://reneweconomy.com.au/polluting-robots-win-big-clean-energy-workers-get-screwed-trump-tax-bill-37122/ By Joe Romm on 7 December 2017

Think Progress  Polluting robots of the world, unite! The GOP tax bill is for you.

The rest of us, however, have a lot to lose from GOP tax changes that favor investments in dirty energy over clean — and robots over human workers.

As one MIT economist told Newsweek, “We are creating huge subsidies in our tax code for capital and encouraging employers to use machines instead of labor.” And unless significant changes are made in the GOP plan, those machines will be running on dirty energy.

 Last month, I discussed how the House tax bill targets key solar and wind energy tax credits that have helped make clean energy a crucial high-wage job-creating sector in the United States.

The good news is that the Senate tax bill doesn’t roll back those renewable energy tax credits.

The bad news is that it contains language that could seriously undermine the investment in renewables by imposing “a new 100 percent tax” on those credits, as Gregory Wetstone, head of the American Council on Renewable Energy, explained in a statement.

“If this bill passes as drafted, major financial institutions would no longer participate in tax equity financing, which is the principal mechanism for monetizing credits,” Wetstone pointed out.

“Almost overnight, you would see a devastating reduction in wind and solar energy investment and development.” Meanwhile, tax subsidies for fossil fuels, many of which are decades old, would continue unchanged–and the Senate bill opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

This type of clean energy financing will reach $12 billion this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which examined the impact of this change in detail.

This investment, much of it by multinational finance companies, has helped leveraged some $50 billion a year in U.S. wind and solar projects, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Ironically — or, rather, tragically — harming renewables mostly harms red states. As “The American Prospect” noted, “The states that voted for Trump produce nearly 70 percent of wind energy, while 85 percent of existing wind projects are in GOP-held congressional districts.”

As for longer-term impacts, the GOP plan would cut billions of dollars in incentives for  the biggest new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the world — clean energy — just as China and the rest of the world are making massive investments.

What’s unknown at this point is how these and other changes to these tax credits will be dealt with in the final bill, after the House and Senate work out their differences. While the House plan to gut the credits was intentional, it’s not clear that Senators intended to undermine them, so the problem is fixable.

 One thing that was very intentional was the “full and immediate expensing of equipment purchases” provision. This would let companies deduct from their taxes the full cost of some types of investments, such as new industrial equipment, that are currently only allowed a 50 percent deduction.

This change would occur just when companies are beginning to automate their factories using robots and advanced computing technology, as corporate tax attorney Robert Kovacev, explained to Huffington Post: “It’s going to accelerate spending, basically, on robots that could displace workers.”

The GOP plan naturally has no tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire more actual workers or to retrain those who lose their job due to automation

Indeed, the Senate bill is so bad that Bloomberg’s editors wrote a piece explaining “Republicans have managed to make a terrible plan worse.” As one example the equipment-expensing provision would take effect immediately, but the Senate only lowers the corporate tax rate to 20 percent (from 35) in 2019.

“This will allow businesses to take deductions on investments while rates are high, then pay a lower rate on the resulting income, creating a perverse incentive to pursue otherwise unprofitable projects,” explains Bloomberg.

So the Senate bill actually encourages companies to replace workers even with unprofitable robots.

Unprofitable polluting robots — quite a legacy for the disastrous GOP tax plan.

Advertisements

December 7, 2017 Posted by | employment, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Risk of Chernobyl sarcophagus collapsing – radiation danger to workers now sealing it

Vice News 5th Dec 2017, Workers at the Chernobyl Power Plant are now facing some of the highest
radiation levels ever while they put the finishing touches on a new
decontamination structure for the world’s worst nuclear disaster. After
the fallout in 1986, workers at the plant built a sarcophagus to contain
the radiation in just three months.

But it was just a quick fix, designed
without future decontamination in mind. And now, after more than 30 years,
it’s at risk of collapse. Workers are sealing the old structure with a
new one they finished building a year ago, called the New Safe Confinement.
They hope it will hold for the next 100 years.
https://news.vice.com/story/inside-the-clean-up-of-chernobyl-the-worlds-worst-nuclear-disaster

December 7, 2017 Posted by | employment, Ukraine | Leave a comment

America’s “overkill” with nuclear weapons – but Trump still wants more

The Sway of the Nuclear Arms Industry Over Donald Trump and Congress Is Terrifying
“The devastation is very important to me.”  Mother Jones his story originally appeared on TomDispatch.com……… in every sense of the term, our nuclear arsenal already represents overkill on an almost unimaginable scale. Independent experts from US war colleges suggest that about 300 warheads would be more than enough to deter any country from launching a nuclear attack on the United States.It may not surprise you to learn that there’s nothing new about the influence the nuclear weapons lobby has over Pentagon spending priorities. The successful machinations of the makers of strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, intended to keep tax dollars flowing their way, date back to the dawn of the nuclear age and are the primary reason President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” and warned of its dangers in his 1961 farewell address.

Without the development of such weapons, that complex simply would not exist in its present form. The Manhattan Project, the vast endeavor that produced the first workable nukes during World War II, was one of the largest government-funded research and manufacturing projects in history. Today’s nuclear warhead complex is still largely built around facilities and locations dating back to that time…….

Eisenhower couldn’t have been more clear-eyed about all of this. He saw the missile gap for the fiction it was or, as he put it, a “useful piece of political demagoguery” for his opponents. “Munitions makers,” he insisted, “are making tremendous efforts towards getting more contracts and in fact seem to be exerting undue influence over the senators.”

 Once Kennedy took office, it became all too apparent that there was no missile gap, but by then it hardly mattered. The damage had been done. Billions of dollars more were flowing into the nuclear-industrial complex to build up an American arsenal of ICBMs already unmatched on the planet.

The techniques that the arms lobby and its allies in government used more than half a century ago to promote sky-high nuclear weapons spending continue to be wielded to this day. The 21st-century arms complex employs tools of influence that Kennedy and his compatriots would have found familiar indeed—including millions of dollars in campaign contributions that flow to members of Congress and the continual employment of 700 to 1,000 lobbyists to influence them; that’s nearly two arms lobbyists for every member of Congress. Much of this sort of activity remains focused on ensuring that nuclear weapons of all types are amply financed and that the funding for the new generations of the bombers, submarines, and missiles that will deliver them stays on track.

When traditional lobbying methods don’t get the job done, the industry’s argument of last resort is jobs—in particular, jobs in the states and districts of key members of Congress. This process is aided by the fact that nuclear weapons facilities are spread remarkably widely across the country There are labs in California and New Mexico; a testing and research site in Nevada; a warhead assembly and disassembly plant in Texas; a factory in Kansas City, Missouri, that builds nonnuclear parts for such weapons; and a plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that produces weapon-grade uranium. There are factories or bases for ICBMs, bombers, and ballistic missile submarines in Connecticut, Georgia, Washington State, California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Such a nuclear geography ensures that a striking number of congressional representatives will automatically favor more spending on nuclear weapons.

In reality, the jobs argument is deeply flawed. As the experts know, virtually any other activity into which such funding flowed would create significantly more jobs than Pentagon spending.study by economists at the University of Massachusetts, for example, found infrastructure investment would create one and one-half times as many jobs as Pentagon funding and education spending twice as many.

In most cases it hasn’t seemed to matter that the jobs claims for weapons spending are grotesquely exaggerated and better alternatives litter the landscape. The argument remains remarkably potent in states and communities that are particularly dependent on the Pentagon. Perhaps unsurprisingly, members of Congress from such areas are disproportionately represented on the committees that decide how much will be spent on nuclear and conventional weaponry………. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/11/devastation-very-important-nuclear-weapons-industry-donald-trump-1/

November 20, 2017 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

What It’s Like for Informal Labour Employed in Nuclear Power Stations in Japan

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management, ANU, Adam Broinowski, 7 Nov 17,  

Sworn to secrecy,12 after a superficial safety education drill, they are sent into highly contaminated, hot and wet labyrinthine areas.

Irregular workers’ oral contracts with tehaishi are often illegal or dangerous, and are sometimes imposed on workers through threats or use of force.

Over the past 40 years, poor monitoring and record-keeping has meant that many former nuclear workers who develop leukaemia and other illnesses have been denied government compensation due to their lawyers’ inability to prove the etiological link between their disease and employment.

Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management, ANU, Adam Broinowski, 7 Nov 17,  “…

Conditions for Informal Labour Employed in Nuclear Power Stations  The phenomenon of assembling and recruiting a relatively unskilled labour pool at the cheapest rate possible is typical in nearly all of Japan’s large-scale modern industrial projects in the 20th century. As early as the late 19th century, however, non-criminal homeless men were recruited for such projects, whether forced, coerced or voluntarily from the major day-labourer (hiyatoi rōdōsha 日雇い労働者) sites (yoseba) established in Sanya (Tokyo), Kotobuki (Yokohama), Kamagasaki (Osaka) and Sasashima (Nagoya). In pre–World War II and wartime Japan, yakuza tehaishi (手配師 labour recruiters) operated forced labour camps known as takobeya (たこ部屋 octopus rooms) for Korean and Chinese labourers who had been transported to work mainly in coal mines and on construction sites.6………

The rapid build of nuclear power stations was planned in the 1960s by a consortium of major investment banks, electric utilities and construction companies and/or industry manufacturers (Mitsubishi, Tōshiba, Hitachi, Sumitomo, etc.), and was carried out in the 1970s, with increased momentum in response to the oil crisis of 1974–76. Through an intensive ‘regional development’ program of rural industrialisation from the early 1970s, politically disempowered communities were targeted as potential cheap labour as their environs were designated as sites for nuclear projects by investment capital. In a combination of regulatory capture and economic dependency, utilities moved in to provide employment opportunities to communities while the same communities steadily lost control over their resources and subsistence economies. In the process, they lost political agency as their political representatives often received corporate and state inducements for these projects. As TEPCO owns the electricity distribution system in Fukushima Prefecture, which includes hydroelectric and thermal power stations as well as nuclear, and is a major employer and investor in Fukushima Prefecture,10 it has considerable sway in the political process as well as over electricity bills.

By the early 1980s, irregular workers came to comprise nearly 90 per cent of all nuclear workers.11 As nuclear reactors grow increasingly contaminated and corroded by radiation over time, informal labour became fodder for regular maintenance, cleaning, repairing and/or venting and refuelling of these nuclear reactors to reduce exposures to permanent company employees such as scientists and engineers. As the power station must be halted during the maintenance period, this period equates to a lack of production and profitability and is kept to a bare minimum by the operators, an approach that led to a litany of safety oversights and accidents.

Although provided less training, informal nuclear workers are paid higher over a shorter employment period than regular workers, whose insurance is taken out of their wage. Sworn to secrecy,12 after a superficial safety education drill, they are sent into highly contaminated, hot and wet labyrinthine areas. Their work includes scrubbing contaminated areas, installing shields to reduce exposure for skilled workers, decontaminating and repairing pipes and tanks, welding, transporting contaminated materials and waste, washing contaminated uniforms and tools, removing filters and clearing garbage, inspecting gauges in high-level areas, dispersing chemicals over nuclear waste piles, pouring high-level liquid waste into drums and mopping up waste water. Although radioprotection regulations have been tightened in the last decade, working conditions for irregular workers have not necessarily improved and, without sufficient information about radiation danger, they can still be exposed to over 1 millisievert (mSv) of external radiation within minutes in high concentration areas and accumulate large amounts of internal radiation.13

Since 3.11, invoking the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s (ICRPs) often-used ALARA (as low as reasonably allowable) principle to justify this regulatory contingency, the state also raised nuclear workers’ limits from no more than 50 mSv per year (mSv/y) and 100 mSv/5 years to 250 mSv/y to deal with emergency conditions, and determined that there would be no follow-up health treatment for those exposed to doses below 50 mSv/y, while TEPCO decided to not record radiation levels below 2 mSv/y in the misplaced justification that the effects would be negligible. In December 2011, ‘cold shutdown’ was (erroneously) declared and the workers’ limit was returned to 100 mSv/5 years. It will likely be raised again as the government expedites decommissioning to meet its estimated completion by 2030–2050.14 Although very few regular workers’ cumulative doses exceeded 20 mSv/y in any year prior to 3.11, by June 2015 the official number rose to 6,64215 with doses of irregular nuclear workers often un(der)counted.

In a fast-track 40-year plan to decommission Fukushima Daiichi (i.e. removing the cores and dismantling the plant), as of August 2015 roughly 45,000 irregular workers (‘front-line’ workers, or ‘nuclear gypsies’) had been assembled at the J-Village Iwaki-Naraha soccer stadium before entering the sites. As well as jobs at the power stations, they work on decontamination and construction sites throughout the prefecture, which include those designated for the 2020 Olympics, a new school in Futaba (the town nearest to FDNPS), a large centre for radiation monitoring, a large research and training institute for reactor decommissioning, and a giant sea wall for tsunami prevention (see also Chapter Five). Yakuza-linked labour brokers (tehaishi/ninpu-dashi), eager to profit from the post-3.11 decommissioning budget (conservatively estimated at $150 billion), use social media and oral contracts to recruit these workers from the most vulnerable populations for ‘clean up’ work.16 In this customary cascade of diluted responsibility, their original wage and conditions are skimmed or cut away (pinhane sareta ピンハネされた) by contractors (roughly 733 companies) so that some irregular workers receive as little as 6,000 yen per day and only a very small fraction of the 10,000 yen per day in danger money promised by the Ministry of the Environment (MoE) and TEPCO.17

Irregular workers’ oral contracts with tehaishi are often illegal or dangerous, and are sometimes imposed on workers through threats or use of force.18 In addition, the day labourer may become indebted to tehaishi for housing and/or loans for lifestyle dependencies (i.e. gambling, drugs, prostitution). As products of structural discrimination, itinerant and/or irregular workers who are already socially isolated may find it difficult to build support networks, whether through marriage, family or solid friendships. Obligated within a semi-legal economy and stripped of rights and protections, each worker is pitted against the other, young and old, stronger and weaker, individual and family man, for basic survival.

Over the past 40 years, poor monitoring and record-keeping has meant that many former nuclear workers who develop leukaemia and other illnesses have been denied government compensation due to their lawyers’ inability to prove the etiological link between their disease and employment. For example, the death of Yoshida Masao (58), the Fukushima Daiichi manager who was among the ‘Fukushima 50’ who remained at the plant to manage the nuclear meltdowns in their critical phase and who developed oesophagal cancer in 2013, was not recognised by TEPCO as related to radiation exposure from Fukushima Daiichi as the cancer was deemed to have developed too quickly after the initial accident.

Irregular nuclear workers have commonly relied on permanent employees to monitor, record and calibrate their doses. Denied sufficient information about radiation exposure risks, and preferring not to jeopardise their contracts and provoke physical intimidation if they complain about their conditions, many collude with company officers (who record their accumulated doses) to camouflage and underestimate their dose rates (particularly for internal doses). This allows them to extend their time and contracts at nuclear plants before they are deemed to have reached (or exceeded) the maximum annual dose limit (50 mSv/y).19 When a nuclear worker is diagnosed with abnormalities in a routine check-up, some subcontractors may falsify nuclear workers’ passbooks.20 Despite the long lives of internalised radionuclides, it has been customary either not to measure this properly and/or to simply reset the dose record at the end of each financial year.

While protective clothing and procedures have grown more stringent for nuclear workers, especially after some workers died and fell ill from heat-related causes, irregular workers remain far less protected.22 At Fukushima Daiichi, where crews are overworked and understaffed, irregular workers often commit errors leading to cases of serious injury and large leaks of radioactive materials into the environment. This is further compounded by the lack of understanding or recognition of chronic illnesses in either permanent or irregular nuclear workers. This has sometimes led to poorly explained deaths of nuclear workers.23

In October 2015, a welder in his late 30s and father of three from Kita-Kyushu became the first worker in four years to be awarded workers’ insurance payments (medical costs and loss of income for temporary disability) while three more cases remained undecided. He was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukaemia after having accumulated 19.8 mSv/y from exposure to a radiation leak and one year’s work at Fukushima Daiichi (Reactors 3 and 4) and the Genkai nuclear plant (Kyushu) (both of which use MOX fuel).24 While compensation was recognised under nuclear workers’ compensation insurance legislation (1976), the Health Ministry maintained that a causal link between illness and employment remains to be scientifically proven. After the delayed report by TEPCO of 1,973 workers exposed to over 100 mSv/y by mid-2013, by August 2015 21,000 of the 45,000 irregular workers had been exposed to over 5 mSv/y and 9,000 workers to over 20 mSv/y.25 TEPCO and the central government would certainly be worried about a spike in compensation claims.

Without a proper health regime, the permanent damage incurred by irregular nuclear workers far outweighs the value of their cheap labour power. With their use as filters as they move to each plant, as nuclear workers grow older and sicker they become less able to commodify their labour and are unlikely to receive proper treatment and/or compensation (due to insufficient data and high radiation safety limits among other things). Although the endless production of labour willing to take on this dangerous work and the devolution of responsibility and ambiguity around radiation health effects are used to justify the continuation of these practices, if workers are knowingly placed in harmful conditions the employer is in breach of a duty of care under the Labour Standards Law. As byproducts of a discriminatory industrial labour system, these irregular nuclear workers and their families, like many elsewhere, are deprived of basic rights to health and well-being. As one labourer stated in relation to Fukushima Daiichi: ‘TEPCO is God. The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves’.26 In short, Fukushima Daiichi clearly illustrates the social reproduction, exploitation and disposability of informal labour, in the state protection of capital, corporations and their assets….http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n2335/html/ch06.xhtml?referer=2335&page=11

November 11, 2017 Posted by | employment, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

30 October: National Day of Remembrance commemorating atomic energy workers

National Day of Remembrance commemorating atomic energy workers RIVER BENDER.com October 24 2017 ST. PETERS, MO – Each year on Oct. 30th atomic energy workers across the nation are commemorated for the National Day of Remembrance. “……Many atomic energy workers unknowingly worked with hazardous chemicals and radiation without consent or proper protective gear during this construction. As a result, countless numbers of individuals are now sick or deceased because of occupational induced illnesses……… Today, the sacrificial work displayed by nuclear weapons workers for their nation and families is remembered……..

October 25, 2017 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

How to get a $60 million payout – be an executive of a $9 billion failed nuclear project

Who gets $60 million when nuke project fails? SCANA execs with golden parachutes could, Myrtle Beach Online, BY AVERY G. WILKS  awilks@thestate.com  21 Oct 17 Top SCANA Corp. executives who led a failed nuclear project that cost S.C. power customers and shareholders billions could be paid roughly $60 million more if the Cayce-based company is sold in the aftermath of the V.C. Summer fiasco.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, employment, USA | Leave a comment

UK unions, formerly opponents of nuclear power, are now slow to understand the increasing role of renewable energy

Dave Elliott’s Blog 5th Oct 2017, The UK Trade Unions currently mostly back nuclear power.

In 2016, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady noted that the Hinkley project ‘will
be the largest construction project in the UK, creating 25,000 high-quality
jobs and 500 apprenticeships’.

It wasn’t always like this. In 1986, in
the wake of Chernobyl, the TUC backed a nuclear ‘moratorium and review’
policy. In the same year, the Labour Party had confirmed its 1985 anti
(civil) nuclear power stance, with a two thirds majority for phasing it
out.

The then quite dominant Transport and General Workers Union said it
was ‘clear and unambiguous in its position on nuclear power. We support a
halt to nuclear expansion and a safe and planned phase out of nuclear power
in this country.’

So what has changed? Well it’s taken nearly 30 years,
but renewables are now big (25%) growing, and creating jobs- with nearly
126,000 people employed in the UK renewable energy industry in 2017
according to the REA.

However, the unions still seem unsure, and some have
taken to recycling dubious statistics and arguments to try to undermine the
case for renewables. At its 2016 annual Congress the GMB Union’s National
Secretary, Justin Bowden, noted that‘over the last 12 months there were
46 days when wind was supplying 10% or less of the installed and connected
wind capacity to the grid’ and insisted that ‘until there is a
scientific breakthrough on carbon capture or solar storage, then nuclear
and gas are the only reliable shows in town which those advocating a
renewable energy-only policy have to accept.”

This doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. For over half of those 46 low-wind days
i.e. outside of winter, and for most of the nights, overall energy demand
would have been low, so a low wind input would not matter. When it did,
existing gas plants would have ramped up a bit more to provide the extra
energy needed e.g. as they do any way to meet daily peaks. As more
renewables come off the grid, other balancing measures can also be used, so
there is not really a problem. But inflexible base-load nuclear plants are
no use for this – they can’t vary output regularly, quickly and safely.
They just get in the way of the flexible supply and demand approach that is
needed.

http://delliott6.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/trade-unions-and-nuclear-power.html

October 9, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

UK politician criticises nuclear workers’ union as “the voice of big business”

Politics Home 28th Sept 2017, A powerful trade union has labelled Clive Lewis “anti-working class” after
he launched an extraordinary attack on their defence of the nuclear
industry. The GMB said the former Shadow Cabinet member’s remarks were
“offensive to our members”.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour party
conference, Mr Lewis said the unions, and the GMB in particular, had become
“the voice of big business”. He also accused them of fighting “to the
bitter end” for the arms industry, but failing to speak up for the
renewable energy sector because it didn’t generate union members.

The Labour MP for Norwich South said: “One of the problems with where trade
unions are at the moment is that they have been so weakened that I think
they have become, and have been used by big business as, a voice for big
business.

“Because big business understands that if you have a unionised
workforce they also become spokespeople for you. They create a situation
where you have a wide and broad spectrum politically of people supporting
your particular position.

“On nuclear, yes, GMB and other unions are staunchly supporting it because the jobs there generate union members.
Contrast that to the highly self-employed solar sector: the unions have no
trade unions there. They are not speaking up at all for them…
https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/news/89369/clive-lewis-accused-being-%E2%80%98anti-working-class%E2%80%99

September 30, 2017 Posted by | employment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Construction workers at Hinkley Point C nuclear project reject pay offer, will support industrial action

Bridgwater Mercury 21st Sept 2017, CONSTRUCTION workers at Hinkley Point C have overwhelmingly rejected a
renewed pay offer in the long-standing dispute over pay and bonuses on the
project. Industrial action is now likely after 95 per cent of staff
rejected the new deal from EDF which was understood to be about a five per
cent increase on their gross pay. A worker at the power plant site, who did
not want to be named, expects the same proportion of the workforce will
support industrial action. He said: “Considering it is the biggest
project in Europe strike is an absolute catastrophe”.
http://www.bridgwatermercury.co.uk/news/15550499.Strike_action_at_Hinkley_Point_C_would_be__absolutely_catastrophic___power_plant_worker_says/

September 25, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

More delay for Britain’s Hinkley nuclear project,as labour dispute worsens

Guardian 21st Sept 2017, The UK’s first new nuclear power plant for 20 years could be delayed
again, after trade unions for construction staff working on the £20bn
Hinkley Point C project announced a ballot for strike action in a dispute
over pay. More than 95% of members balloted by GMB and Unite rejected a pay
increase offered by the French energy company EDF and its contractor Bylor
after months of discussions. Any extension of the labour dispute risks
further time and cost overruns for Europe’s largest construction project,
which is already behind schedule and over budget.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/21/hinkley-point-c-fresh-strike-threat-over-pay-dispute-delays

September 23, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

Scott Pruitt has turned America’s Environment Protection Agency into a nerve-wracking mess

turning the agency into a hollow shell by whacking its budget, overturning rules based on bogus reportand keeping employees in the dark allows Pruitt and his allies to claim publicly that all they are doing is restricting the EPA to its original purpose, not demolishing it.

In fact, the damage that Pruitt is inflicting will take years to repair.

Scott Pruitt’s EPA Is Crazyland, Clean Technica , August 22nd, 2017 “…..By Meteor Blades     Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton at The New York Times report that Pruitt has injected a sense of paranoia at the agency, making career employees feel as if they are the enemy. Those staffers say floors at EPA HQ are frequently locked, and if they wish to see Pruitt, they must have an escort. They are often told to leave their cellphones behind and not to take notes in meetings with him:“Mr. Pruitt, according to the employees, who requested anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs, often makes important phone calls from other offices rather than use the phone in his office, and he is accompanied, even at E.P.A. headquarters, by armed guards, the first head of the agency to ever request round-the-clock security.

“A former Oklahoma attorney general who built his career suing the E.P.A., and whose LinkedIn profile still describes him as ‘a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,’ Mr. Pruitt has made it clear that he sees his mission to be dismantling the agency’s policies — and even portions of the institution itself.

 “But as he works to roll back regulations, close offices and eliminate staff at the agency charged with protecting the nation’s environment and public health, Mr. Pruitt is taking extraordinary measures to conceal his actions, according to interviews with more than 20 current and former agency employees.”…….

Among the examples of Pruitt’s moves to undermine the agency’s mission is what was done to the analysis of the Waters of the United States rule put in place during the Obama administration to expand EPA’s oversight of large bodies of water to the streams and rivers that feed them. This attempt to preserve wetlands and clean up polluted tributaries was widely attacked by farmers, real estate developers, and rightist ideologues.

Pruitt was determined to dump the rule. So he ordered a rewrite of a lengthy analysis that had shown that the rule’s economic benefits far outweighed its costs. The EPA’s staffers dutifully complied, and when their report emerged, more than half a billion dollars in benefits from the rule had been erased:

Jeffrey Ruchs, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an organization representing government employees in environmental fields, said the E.P.A. could not allow changes like this to take place, or expect its employees to follow such directives.

“‘This is a huge change, and they made it over a few days, with almost no record, no documentation,’ Mr. Ruchs said, adding, ‘It wasn’t so much cooking the books, it was throwing out the books.’ […]

“’The mere fact they are telling people not to write things down shows they are trying to keep things hidden,’ said Jeffrey Lubbers, a professor of administrative law at American University.”

The secrecy extends to the most mundane matters. Unlike previous agency administrators, he doesn’t post his schedule and makes it difficult for top staffers to even know where he is traveling on government business……

turning the agency into a hollow shell by whacking its budget, overturning rules based on bogus reports and keeping employees in the dark allows Pruitt and his allies to claim publicly that all they are doing is restricting the EPA to its original purpose, not demolishing it.

In fact, the damage that Pruitt is inflicting will take years to repair. https://cleantechnica.com/2017/08/22/scott-pruitts-epa-crazyland/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+%28CleanTechnica%29

August 23, 2017 Posted by | employment, environment, politics, USA | 2 Comments

V. C. Summer former nuclear workers filing lawsuits against nuclear plant employers

Attorneys filing lawsuits against nuclear plant employers, http://wach.com/news/local/attorneys-filing-lawsuits-against-nuclear-plant-employersby Michelle Zhu, 18 Aug 17, 

It’s called the WARN Act, which stands for Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification. It requires employers of more than 100 workers to provide 60 day advance notice of mass layoffs. In response, Attorney Jack Raisner and his partners filed lawsuits against both Westinghouse and SCANA at the beginning of August.

At this point, complaints have been filed and the Outten and Golden firm is waiting for an answer. Attorney Raisner says they can’t guarantee an outcome but they feel confident something will come out of the case. If the plaintiffs win, all employees will receive up to eight weeks of lost pay, plus benefits. The process could take as little as a few months or up to several years.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | employment, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Escalating dispute at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria

18 Aug 17, The dispute at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria has
escalated amid claims workplace meetings to discuss a 1.5% have been banned
by bosses. The union Unite, which is preparing to ballot its 2,000 members
for industrial over the offer which it says is “completely
unacceptable”, has hit out at the management move.
http://www.thebusinessdesk.com/northwest/news/2008261-union-hits-sellafield-workplace-meetings-%E2%80%98ban%E2%80%99

August 19, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

Hundreds of workers laid off, thousands of contractors lost jobs: lawsuit against Westinghouse over VC Summer nuclear failure

Pittsburgh Gazette 11th Aug 2017, Following the filing of a lawsuit alleging that Westinghouse Electric Co. violated labor laws by laying off hundreds of workers without proper notice, the bankrupt nuclear company confirmed Friday that it has furloughed 870 employees across the company.

The number represents all full-time Westinghouse employees who had been working on the VC Summer
nuclear power plant in South Carolina and includes 125 workers at
Westinghouse’s Cranberry headquarters. The majority of the furloughs took
place at the site of the VC Summer nuclear power plant construction
project.

The project was canceled last week by two South Carolina utilities. Years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, theproject was expected to cost another $8 billion to complete.

In addition to the Westinghouse layoffs, thousands of contractors working on the South Carolina site also lost their jobs.

The lawsuit, filed in bankruptcy court on Thursday by Andrew Fleetwood, a field engineering manager at VC Summer,
claims Westinghouse employees like him were furloughed “without being given any indication that his employment or that of his co-workers would ever recommence.”  http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies/2017/08/11/Westinghouse-furloughed-870-employees-in-fallout-from-the-cancelled-South-Carolina-nuclear-project/stories/201708110130

August 14, 2017 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

Workers’ health at risk at Idaho nuclear lab

Unheeded warnings, repeated mistakes put workers’ health at risk at Idaho nuclear lab, Idaho Statesman, BY PATRICK MALONE AND PETER CARY, The Center for Public Integrity AUGUST 10, 2017 

August 11, 2017 Posted by | employment, incidents, USA | Leave a comment