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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

High Court in South Africa to hear case against government’s nuclear power plan

legal actionActivists seek to bar plan by South African government to expand nuclear power http://af.reuters.com/article/southAfricaNews/idAFJ8N1BD01Z   CAPE TOWN, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Activist groups are challenging a plan by South Africa’s government to expand the country’s nuclear power generation capacity on the grounds that the process was unconstitutional, they said on Thursday.

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute said in a statement that the High Court in Cape Town would hear their case on Dec. 13 and 14 this year to block plans to add 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear power. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by James Macharia)

September 23, 2016 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

Canadian political parties forced to reimburse illegal SNC-Lavalin donations

Liberals, Conservatives reimburse illegal SNC-Lavalin donations, ROBERT FIFE AND DANIEL LEBLANC OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Sep. 08, 2016 The federal Liberal and Conservative parties were forced to reimburse the government after the commissioner of elections found they had received $117,803 in illegal donations from SNC-Lavalin’s political slush fund.

The unlawful contributions span from March, 2004, to May, 2011, and showcase how dirty money that funded Quebec political parties also found a home in the federal arena.

The Liberal Party received the bulk of the illegal donations from the Quebec engineering giant, amounting to $109,615, while the Conservatives got $8,187. As part of its reimbursement, the Liberal Party covered $12,529 in donations that SNC-Lavalin gave in 2006 to the leadership campaigns of Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Stéphane Dion and Gerard Kennedy.

 Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin has been mired in corruption and bribery scandals over the past decade involving attempts to curry favour with politicians and other influential players to win lucrative engineering and construction contracts in Canada and abroad. The RCMP has raided SNC-Lavalin’s offices a number of times over the years.

The Commissioner of Canada Elections, Yves Côté, announced Thursday morning that the company had signed a compliance agreement with the federal agency and committed to put in place a series of steps to ensure it does not make illegal donations in the future.

SNC-Lavalin has already admitted it made more than $1-million in illegal donations to Quebec political parties during the 2000s. Like other engineering firms in the province, managers and family members made personal donations to parties, which were then reimbursed with salary bonuses.

A commission of inquiry found that officials inside the Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois were aware of SNC-Lavalin’s political slush fund, although there is no evidence the federal political parties knew the donations were illegal.

The Liberal Party said it was informed of the illegal donations by the Commissioner of Canada Elections last month, and immediately reimbursed the Chief Electoral Officer……….

An elections commissioner investigation found that senior SNC-Lavalin executives illegally donated $83,534 to the Liberal Party of Canada; $13,552 to various Liberal riding associations; $12,529 to contestants involved in the 2006 Liberal leadership race; $3,137 to the Conservative Party; and $5,050 to Conservative riding associations………

Facing the threat of getting barred from future federal contracts, SNC-Lavalin signed an “administrative agreement” last year with the Public Services and Procurement Department under the government’s new integrity regime. The agreement allows companies that have federal charges pending against them to continue to contract with or supply the government. As part of the deal, SNC agreed to strict conditions and third-party oversight of its business practices. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/snc-lavalin-violated-elections-act-with-contributions-to-liberals-tories/article31762290/?cmpid=rss1&click=sf_globe

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Canada, Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnerships’ major problem – Investor-State Dispute Settlements

the easiest way to fix ISDS is to throw it out. Several countries, including India,Indonesia and Ecuador, have told their trade partners they’re considering terminating bilateral treaties because of ISDS. Some experts question whether the system is necessary even in the situations it was originally designed for
 
texy-TPPThe Big Problem With The Trans-Pacific Partnership’s Super highly-recommendedCourt That We’re Not Talking About,
Huffington Post, David Dayen Financiers will use it to bet on lawsuits, while taxpayers foot the bill. August 30, 2016 A secretive super-court system called ISDS is threatening to blow up President Barack Obama’s highest foreign policy priority.

Investor-state dispute settlement — an integral part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — allows companies to sue entire countries for costing them money when laws or regulations change. Cases are decided by extrajudicial tribunals composed of three corporate lawyers. Buzzfeed, in a multi-part investigation launched Sunday, called it “the court that rules the world.”

 Although the ISDS process has existed for years, TPP would drastically expand it. The most common criticisms of the system are that it’s secret, that it’s dominated by unaccountable big-firm lawyers, and that global corporations use it to change sovereign laws and undermine regulations. That’s all true.
 But here’s what most of the coverage and the critics are missing.

The ISDS system ― which is now written into over 3,000 international trade treaties, including NAFTA ― was designed to solve a specific problem. When corporations invest abroad, they fear that their factories might be nationalized or their products expropriated by governments that also control the local courts. ISDS is meant to give companies confidence that if a country seizes their accounts or factories, they’ll have a fair, neutral place to appeal.

 But instead of helping companies resolve legitimate disputes over seized assets, ISDS has increasingly become a way for rich investors to make money by speculating on lawsuits, winning huge awards and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill.

Here’s how it works: Wealthy financiers with idle cash have purchased companies that are well placed to bring an ISDS claim, seemingly for the sole purpose of using that claim to make a buck. Sometimes, they set up shell corporations to create the plaintiffs to bring ISDS cases. And some hedge funds and private equity firms bankroll ISDS cases as third parties — just like billionaire Peter Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan in his lawsuit against Gawker Media.

It’s the same playbook that hedge funds were following when they bought up Argentine, Puerto Rican and other U.S. housing debt for pennies on the dollar. As The Huffington Post reported in May, the financiers were betting they could use lawsuits and lobbying to influence the political system in favor of the creditors like them and reap huge rewards.

Indeed, the damage of ISDS goes far beyond the money that investors manage to extract from public coffers and extends to the corruption of a political system by investors who buy off scholars, economists and politicians in pursuit of whatever policy outcome leads to a payoff. And there’s nothing stopping plutocrats with agendas that go beyond profit-making from getting involved ― again the way Thiel did with Gawker. That alone changes the power dynamic: If you’re the government of Thailand, the billionaire you’re negotiating with has one extra threat at his disposal.

If these investors are able to cement ISDS as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the opportunities for hedge funds to do what they’ve already done to Argentina will be endless ― possibly even in cities and states under financial pressure in the U.S., like Detroit and Illinois.

So-called third-party funding of “international arbitration against foreign sovereigns” has been expanding quickly, according to Selvyn Seidel, a pioneer in the litigation finance industry and now CEO of the advisory firm Fulbrook Capital Management.

“You can get an award for billions of dollars when that award would never come out in domestic law,” said Gus van Harten, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto. “It’s just a jackpot for speculators.”……….

Third-party funding shields corporations from the upfront costs of litigation, making it easier to sue. Since companies generally don’t have to disclose that they’ve received third-party funding for an ISDS case, and since international arbitration usually proceeds in comparative secrecy, pursuing a claim through ISDS can shield companies from the public criticism that accompanies challenging a law in regular courts. “You can actually ask for enormous amounts of money without anybody criticizing you,” said Verheecke of Corporate Europe Observatory.

With ISDS permitted under some 3,000 treaties, there are a huge number of opportunities to sue. And “unlike some other legal systems, the default remedy is a cash payment,” said Todd Tucker, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute with a decade of experience researching trade and investment policy. The awards are also uncapped, meaning they can be enormous. If a corporation sought damages on future profits in perpetuity and the arbitrators agreed, the sovereign would have no recourse. Dozens of cases have resulted in awards of over $100 million, according to a 2016 report from van Harten, the law professor.

Those possibilities have the ISDS claim-financing industry booming. Hedge funds, private equity firms and institutional investors are flocking to fund lawsuits as they would any other speculative asset, according to experts in the field. And the lack of transparency means that lawyers acting as arbitrators or advocates in one case could be unnamed investors in other cases, and nobody would ever know.

Defenders of ISDS argue that the outcome of any case is uncertain and that companies win only about one-quarter of the time. But that’s only the cases that have been publicly identified and it doesn’t include settlements, where the corporation can also extract a monetary award. If funding ISDS suits was really such a bad bet, the industry probably wouldn’t be expanding so quickly.

Fulbrook Capital Management’s primer on the litigation finance industry, updated this year, includes a section entitled “International, the name of the game.” It lists numerous big-city hubs for arbitration: London, New York, Paris, Toronto. About ISDS in particular, the primer reads, “Investment claims against Sovereigns are often subject to Treaty and, within the Treaty, subject to arbitration. This promotes investments. … While investors are known to shy away from financing claims in ‘third world’ courts, particularly claims against the host court’s sovereign, they view international arbitration in a far more favorable light.”

Between 2009 and 2015, rulings in 16 ISDS cases have noted the existence of third-party funding, according to a report from Jean-Christophe Honlet, a partner at the global law firm Dentons. But the scale of third-party funding for ISDS cases is probably significantly larger than that number suggests. The International Council for Commercial Arbitration suggests that at least 60 percent of ISDS cases “enquired about (but not necessarily sought or obtained) third-party funding before their cases were lodged.” Just this month, Canadian gold mining company Rusoro won a $1.2 billion claim against Venezuela that was “third-party funded,” according to Global Arbitration Review………..

Giving financiers the ability to extract taxpayer dollars from around the globe transfers wealth upwards. It’s another way the rich get richer by accessing tools unavailable to most citizens. That has massive follow-on effects for economic and political power worldwide, including right here in the U.S.

Now, upcoming trade agreements would dramatically expand this system. Public Citizen estimates that 9,000 new companies would gain ISDS rights to sue the United States under TPP alone. That’s 9,000 new opportunities for financiers to reach down into state and local coffers, in addition to the federal government, to grab cash. TPP would also expand the “minimum standard of treatment” clause, which sets up the most flexible type of ISDS claim, to cover financial services companies, meaning almost any change in the expected future profits of a bank could be challenged. “TPP was a win for the banks on ISDS,” said van Harten, the law professor……..

the easiest way to fix ISDS is to throw it out. Several countries, including India,Indonesia and Ecuador, have told their trade partners they’re considering terminating bilateral treaties because of ISDS. Some experts question whether the system is necessary even in the situations it was originally designed for……http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/isds-lawsuit-financing-tpp_us_57c48e40e4b09cd22d91f660

September 12, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

French Unionists take legal action to stop Hinkley nuclear power project

legal actionflag-franceEDF representatives file legal challenge in France over Hinkley Point Five union members in France are seeking to annul decision on £18bn project to build nuclear reactors, Guardian,  in Paris . Tensions over Britain’s proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley Point have flared again in France as five worker representatives on the board of the French power company EDF filed a challenge to overturn the company’s controversial decision to build the nuclear reactors.

The employee representatives believe EDF’s chief executive “did not communicate crucial information about a major project” he was aware of before the 28 July meeting at which the board of directors approved the £18bn project to build Britain’s first new nuclear reactors in decades, their law firm told Agence France-Presse.

The five union board members have filed a complaint with the Paris commercial court seeking to annul the decision because the Jean-Bernard Levy had not shared essential information with all board members.

The complaint also protests against the participation of several directors “with conflicts of interests”, according to the law firm Alain Levy. The challenge claims that some of the EDF board members who voted in favour of Hinkley Point represent companies that are EDF customers and could benefit from the UK contract. French firms Bouygues and Vallourec have denied that members of their boards who are also on the board of EDF had a conflict of interest in their Hinkley Point vote………

The nuclear reactors carry huge risks for both France and Britain. EDF will assume the upfront costs, which unions say could jeopardise the firm’s survival, while Britain has committed to pay a price twice current market levels for the power generated by the plant……..

A date for a Paris court hearing should be set on 5 September.

EDF is also being sued by its Works Council, which also wants to annul the vote because it argues it had not received the necessary documents from management to give non-binding preliminary advice to the company. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/31/edf-representatives-file-legal-challenge-in-france-over-hinkley-point

September 5, 2016 Posted by | France, Legal | Leave a comment

Hitachi sued for $1 billion Over Hitachi Fukushima Cleanup Contracts

legal action1 Billion USD Lawsuit Over Hitachi Fukushima Cleanup Contracts http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=15716  September 1st, 2016 Purolite company based in the US has sued Hitachi for 1 billion USD in a US court over theft of intellectual property.The suit alleges that Hitachi signed on to a joint venture to develop contaminated water systems for Fukushima Daiichi back in 2011 or 2012. Once Hitachi had the proprietary technical information from Purolite they signed on to work on the project with AVANtech, also a US company, according to the allegation in the suit.

Purolite claims they have evidence that AVANtech and Hitachi conspired to do the work but cut Purolite out of the project. The high dollar amount in the lawsuit was based on the assumption that Hitachi would see significant income out of the water decontamination contracts they won for Fukushima Daiichi. Purolite has also filed suit in a court in Japan related to this issue.

With all of the high dollar contracts related to Fukushima Daiichi and the large number of joint projects this may not be the only one in the future.

September 3, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Legal challenges to New York nuclear power subsidies,

legal actionFlurry of challenges attacks NY nuclear and renewable power subsidies,  http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09/flurry_of_challenges_attack_ny_plan_for_nuclear_and_renewable_power_subsidies.html   Syracuse.c om, By Tim Knauss | tknauss@syracuse.com , 1 Sept 16, SYRACUSE, N.Y. – At least 15 interest groups have challenged New York’s new “clean energy standard,” which mandates subsidiesfor nuclear plants and renewable energy, by petitioning the state Public Service Commission to reconsider the policy.

The formal petitions for rehearing come from a wide range of critics, from power plant owners to low-income consumer advocates, reflecting the sweeping impact of the new regulations.

Challenges had been widely expected, given the high stakes for energy producers and customers. Petitions for rehearing are typically the first step in seeking to change a commission decision. Lawsuits could follow.

There is no deadline for the commission to respond to the petitions, said Jon Sorensen, speaking for the PSC.

“Parties will likely be given 45 business days to comment on the arguments presented in the petitions before the commission decides whether to reject those petitions or modify the order,” he wrote in an email.

The PSC is under pressure to move ahead with its new policy swiftly, especially the part that affects Upstate nuclear plants. The FitzPatrick plant in Oswego County is slated to close in January if the planned sale of the plant to Exelon Corp. is blocked. The sale of FitzPatrick depends on approval of subsidy contracts authorized by the clean energy standard.

Under a side agreement between New York officials and current plant owner Entergy Corp., the sale of FitzPatrick must be approved and subsidy contracts for the facility signed, all by Nov. 18, or the sale can be called off and state power authority would owe a $35 million termination fee to Entergy.

Several of the petitioners seeking to revisit the clean energy standard claim the PSC acted with illegal haste by adopting the nuclear subsidy scheme, details of which were proposed just two weeks before the commission vote. Those critics say the proposal to adopt a 12-year subsidy program for Upstate nuclear plants, which is expected to cost nearly $1 billion during just the first two years, should have been subjected to a 45-day comment period under the State Administrative Procedures Act. The PSC said in its original order that the comment period was adequate.

Other petitions say the PSC erred by excluding certain types of renewable energy, such as existing wind farms or new hydroelectric dams, from getting subsidies under the clean energy standard.

The Independent Power Producers of New York, among others, argued that some New York power generators excluded from the clean energy standard might sell their output in Massachusetts, which just enacted financial incentives for renewable power.

Contact Tim Knauss anytime | email | Twitter | 315-470-3023

September 2, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear industry in turmoil over botched contracts

judge-1flag-UKUK nuclear industry hit by fresh turmoil, Ft.com Gill Plimmer August 26, 2016  Britain’s nuclear industry has been hit by fresh turmoil after the government said it was planning to appeal against a ruling that it had botched a £7bn contest to clean up toxic power plants, while another company threatened to bring legal action.

A High Court judge ruled on July 29 that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority had acted unlawfully in the way it awarded a contract to dismantle and make safe 12 of the UK’s first-generation nuclear power stations. The decision leaves the government agency exposed to multimillion pound claims for damages.

The initial court challenge was brought by Energy Solutions, the US-based company that lost the contract after managing the nuclear sites for 14 years, but on Friday another US contractor, Bechtel , said it would also take legal action. Other losing companies or consortiums, such as Ch2MHill and Serco, are expected to follow.

Bechtel is understood to be seeking compensation for the loss of future earnings but others may just seek to recoup bid costs, which are estimated at £15m per consortium……….

 The fiasco raises fresh questions over the way government entities hand out multibillion-pound contracts as well as casting further doubt on the UK’s nuclear industry at a time when the government is reviewing the £18bn Hinkley Point project.It has also prompted concerns over the future of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which was already under scrutiny after the government scrapped the outsourced management contract to run Britain’s biggest nuclear waste site — Sellafield in Cumbria.

John Clarke, chief executive of the NDA, announced this month his intention to retire next year………http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0c4e74e4-6b80-11e6-a0b1-d87a9fea034f.html#axzz4ITV1TlFn

August 27, 2016 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Exelon readies for legal fight to keep New York nuclear subsidies

legal costsExelon girds for challenges to Cuomo’s N.Y. nuclear subsidy, Jeffrey Tomich and Saqib Rahim, E&E reporters EnergyWire: Friday, August 19, 2016 Even before the first counterpunch to New York’s plan to subsidize a trio of upstate nuclear power plants in the name of fighting climate change, the beneficiary of almost $500 million in annual payments is airing its legal defenses.

Chicago-based Exelon Corp., owner of the R.E. Ginna and Nine Mile Point plants and the soon-to-be-owner of a third plant, James A. FitzPatrick, said it has vetted all of the potential arguments its opponents could raise and its defense is airtight.

“Given the importance to the company, we’ve gone through these legal theories in great detail and each of the potential challenges,” William Von Hoene, Exelon’s senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer, said in a recent presentation. “And we will have the challenges.”

Exelon is on the same page as New York’s Public Service Commission, which designed the policy to avoid specific legal tripwires. Experts say there’s likely to be a court challenge anyway, if only because of the money at stake and the precedent it could establish. If it survives, the plan could be a blueprint for other states to achieve the same policy goals, even after similar efforts have been blocked by judges and regulators.

This year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Maryland incentive program for new gas-fired generation because it strayed too far into federal jurisdiction over wholesale electricity markets (Greenwire, April 19). And the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission blocked a plan approved by Ohio regulators to subsidize utility-owned coal and nuclear plants because it clashed with affiliate transaction rules (EnergyWire, April 28).

The New York PSC approved its clean energy standard (CES) on Aug. 1, formalizing the state’s goal of getting half its power from renewable energy by 2030. Toward that end, the CES will subsidize three nuclear power plants, giving more time for wind and solar power to develop in New York…..

Opponents said the process moved too fast given the high stakes. They’ve said it’s dubious to peg the subsidy to the social cost of carbon, and that it will lead to burdensome costs for large energy users, like manufacturers. And some environmentalists have objected to any support for nuclear power in a policy meant to advance renewable energy…….

Regulators moved quickly to finalize the clean energy standard. Entergy Corp., the owner of FitzPatrick, planned to shut the plant in January. Exelon was willing to buy it and add to its nuclear fleet, but it wanted clarity about what their economics would be……

On July 8, the state Department of Public Service proposed its plan to rescue the nuclear plants with ZECs. The plan contemplated nearly $1 billion in subsidies for the first two years. It said the $4 billion net benefit, largely from cutting carbon, was worth it.

Regulators took public comments for two weeks and issued a final order on Aug. 1.

Opponents said the process moved too fast given the high stakes. They’ve said it’s dubious to peg the subsidy to the social cost of carbon, and that it will lead to burdensome costs for large energy users, like manufacturers. And some environmentalists have objected to any support for nuclear power in a policy meant to advance renewable energy.

Legal fight on the horizon?

What remains unclear: Will any of the objections lead to a formal legal challenge?…….

Parties have 30 days to petition the PSC for a rehearing, said Jon Sorensen, a spokesman for the Department of Public Service. They have four months to challenge a decision at the New York Supreme Court.

At FERC, parties could lodge a complaint at any time, asserted Tyson Slocum, energy program director at Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog.

What might be the substance of such a challenge? “We do expect opponents to challenge the order both on administrative process as well as the merits,” said Fox of ClearView.

That opens many angles of attack, though not all of them are equally likely. Some parties question how regulators set the amount of the nuclear subsidy. At first, it was based on the cost of running the reactors. They ultimately decided to use the social cost of carbon.

Whether the recent appellate court ruling validates the social cost of carbon metric, some critics say the PSC staff didn’t allow enough time for parties to vet the formula.

“Two business weeks is a wholly inadequate amount of time for parties to review, evaluate and comment on a proposal that is projected to result in billions of dollars in costs and with a newly-created methodology for calculating ZEC prices,” the National Energy Marketers Association said in a filing last month.

The PSC’s timetable violated the state’s Administrative Procedure Act, NEMA said. It declined to comment on a possible challenge to the CES.

Exelon is also bracing for challenges that claim the PSC strayed too far into FERC’s jurisdiction……http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060041817

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Environmental groups in America take legal action against transport of nuclear wastes

radiation-truckFlag-USAGreens Sue to Stop Nuclear Waste Transport http://www.courthousenews.com/2016/08/15/greens-sue-to-stop-legal actionnuclear-waste-transport.htm   By BRITAIN EAKIN WASHINGTON (CN)– The U.S. Energy Department’s unprecedented proposed transfer of “a toxic liquid stew” containing nuclear waste between Canada and the U.S violates federal law, seven environmental groups claim in court.

     The proposed $60 million deal would see more than 6,000 gallons of the liquid waste transported more than 1,100 miles from the Fissile Solutions Storage Tank at Chalk River in Ontario, Canada to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, according to a 47-page lawsuit filed Friday in Washington, D.C., Federal Court.
“The radioactive waste byproducts resulting from processing the HEU targets at Chalk River are acknowledged to be among the most radioactively hazardous materials on Earth,” the complaint states, abbreviating highly enriched uranium. “They would be more easily dispersed into the environment in liquid form than in solid form, in the event of a breach of containment during transport.”
The material in question, highly enriched uranyl nitrate liquid, or HEUNL, comes from Canadian production of medical radioisotopes with highly enriched uranium provided by the Energy Department.
“The targets are irradiated in a nuclear reactor and then dissolved in nitric acid so that certain useful medical isotopes can be chemically extracted from the liquid solution,” the complaint states, which environmental groups say results in a highly radioactive liquid waste that contains dangerous radioactive byproducts of nuclear fission.
According to the complaint, which names the Energy Department as the primary defendant, the transport will take several years and will require 150 separate trips.
   The lawsuit alleges that the Energy Department wrongly designated the liquid waste, which contains dozens of radioactive compounds often present in irradiated nuclear fuel. The liquid also contains small amounts of highly enriched uranium, “which is nuclear weapons usable material,” the environmental groups claim.
“Thus the material to be shipped is functionally equivalent to liquid high-level radioactive waste that results from dissolving spent nuclear fuel in nitric acid for the purpose of reprocessing,” the complaint states.
The conservationists say the liquid waste is similar to that being stored at Washington state’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which has never been transported in liquid form over public roads.
The complaint calls the public and environmental health dangers of the liquid waste “significant and in some cases even legendary.” Some of it could easily enter the food chain and be absorbed into muscle and organ tissues, the groups say.
Additionally, the lawsuit warns that the liquid waste requires careful monitoring and constant mixing to prevent the highly enriched uranium from becoming more concentrated, which in a worst case scenario could rupture the tank and release the material into the environment.
   “The import and transport of highly radioactive liquid waste is being justified under a U.S.-Canada agreement to return highly enriched uranium to the United States. However, shipping of high-level radioactive waste in liquid form over public roads has never occurred in the 75-year history of U.S. nuclear power, research, medical isotope production, and weapons programs,” the complaint states.
The environmental groups argue that other alternatives exist. The liquid waste can be solidified and stored at Chalk River, or it can be converted or “down-blended” so that it contains low-enriched, non-weapons grade uranium, which the Energy Department has said is a viable option, according to the complaint.
The groups that filed the lawsuit – Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Savannah River Site Watch, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Lone Tree Council, Sierra Club and Environmentalists Inc. – are asking the Energy Department to thoroughly analyze down-blending as an option for dealing with the waste.
According to the lawsuit, the agency has not compiled an environmental impact statement on the proposed shipments, which federal law requires it to do.
Instead, the agency published and adopted as policy its own analysis of the risks, which it determined are similar to transporting other nuclear material, the complaint says, thereby circumventing public notification and comment requirements.
“The agency found that there would be no significant environmental impacts from the proposed project and provided no meaningful discussion of the potential risks from accident, terrorism, sabotage and the associated possible breach of the transport container,” the lawsuit states.
The environmental groups seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions against the transport plan until the Energy Department compiles an environmental impact statement and complies with the National Environment Policy Act, the Atomic Energy Act and the Department of Energy Organization Act.
The Energy Department declined to comment.
Terry J. Lodge, attorney for the environmental groups, did not respond Monday to an emailed request for comment.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Legal, Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

French Polynesia’s Protestant church takes action against France over nuclear testing

justiceMururoa-test-1971Tahiti Protestants take France to court, Radio New Zealand,  9 August 2016 French Polynesia’s Protestant church has decided to take France to the International Criminal Court over the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests. The decision was announced at the conclusion of the Maohi Protestant Church Synod in Tahiti.

Its secretary general Celine Hoiore said the case will be filed in The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity as a result of 193 nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.

The action is being taken for all the consequences of the tests, including contempt for the illnesses Polynesians suffer from as a result of the tests she said.

Oscar Temaru, a pro-independence opposition politician, has welcomed the church decision as historic.

The church will also raise its concern with the United Nations (UN) where Mr Temaru has already been campaigning on the matter as part of his decolonisation effort.

In October, the French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch is due to go to the UN as his government is against decolonisation.

He is yet to react to the church decision.

In 2010, France passed a law to compensate victims but the law’s scope has been too narrow to allow more than just a handful of people to get recognition and there have been calls to review the law…….http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/310514/tahiti-protestants-take-france-to-court

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Obama’s climate change accounting is upheld by federal appeals court

judge-1climate-changeCourt backs Obama’s climate change accounting http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/290859-court-backs-obamas-climate-change-accounting  By Timothy Cama – 08/09/16 

A federal appeals court is upholding the Obama administration’s accounting of the costs of greenhouse gas emissions as applied to a Department of Energy (DOE) regulation. In a unanimous decision late Monday, the Chicago-based 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an industry-backed request to overturn a 2014 rule that set energy efficiency standards for commercial refrigerators.

 In doing so, the court specifically backed the so-called social cost of carbon, President Obama’s administration-wide estimate of the costs per metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere — currently $36.

The DOE used the carbon cost in its cost-benefit analysis, justifying the rule in part because of the amount of climate change regulators believe it would avoid.

It’s the first time a court has considered the legality of the carbon accounting, according to the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University, which supports the policy and filed a brief backing the DOE in the case. Congressional Republicans, business interests and energy companies have criticized the accounting as bad math and improper forecasts.

The court said the carbon cost is entirely within the DOE’s discretion to use.

“To determine whether an energy conservation measure is appropriate under a cost‐benefit analysis, the expected reduction in environmental costs needs to be taken into account,” the judges wrote. “We have no doubt that Congress intended that DOE have the authority under the [Energy Policy and Conservation Act] to consider the reduction in SCC.”

They went on the say that the industry challengers were incorrect in stating that the carbon cost is “irredeemably flawed,” concluding instead that “DOE’s determination of SCC was neither arbitrary nor capricious.”

The Institute for Policy Integrity said the ruling is significant for including climate change in cost-benefit analyses.

August 14, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Citizen groups organise for legal action to stop Japan’s nuclear restarts

legal actionflag-japanShikoku MOX plant restarts amid outcry over fresh quake fears, Japan Times, BY STAFF WRITER, 12 Aug 16,  MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. Shikoku Electric Power Co. restarted the Ikata No. 3 reactor Friday at its plant on the narrow Sadamisaki Peninsula in Ehime Prefecture as citizens groups sought injunctions in three different prefectures to turn it back off amid various safety concerns, including the viability of evacuations.

The reactor is the fifth to be switched back on since all of the nation’s atomic reactors were closed due to the March 2011 triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant following a mega-quake and tsunami.

However, a March decision by the Otsu District Court to place a temporary injunction on two Kansai Electric Power Co. reactors in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, left only two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in operation. They were restarted a year ago.

The Ikata No. 3 unit is also the only reactor burning the mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel…….

the reactor’s restart has not gone unchallenged. The Otsu District Court decision, which shut down Kepco’s Takahama No. 3 and 4 reactors less than two months after they were restarted, has energized residents who opposed the Ikata restart. In light of the quakes in Kyushu earlier this year, many now fear a natural disaster could also damage the reactor, and that official evacuation plans for the slender peninsula could prove unrealistic.

Petitions seeking a temporary injunction on the Ikata reactor have been filed in the district courts of Matsuyama in Ehime, as well as Hiroshima and Oita, by people living relatively close to the plant. Matsuyama is about 60 km from Ikata and Hiroshima is within 100 km. Oita’s Saganoseki Peninsula is about 45 km away.

A temporary injunction from any one of the three courts would almost certainly mean Ikata No. 3 would have to shut down immediately. For this reason, anti-nuclear lawyers involved with the petitions remain hopeful the courts will do what politicians have not.

“The Otsu court decision to shut down the Takahama reactors sent a shock wave through the government and the utilities. Political measures including demonstrations are needed. But I’ve come to believe the best way to stop the restart of nuclear power plants is through legal means, such as filing lawsuits and requests for temporary injunctions,” Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer involved with the Matsuyama, Hiroshima and Oita petitions, said at a news conference in Matsuyama late last month.

The Otsu decision angered Kepco and senior corporate leaders in the Kansai region who fear it will spark a nationwide movement against nuclear power plants. Some are now pushing the government to establish a separate court presided over by judges with specialized knowledge, or to establish separate legal measures to review petitions by citizens’ groups targeting restarts in the hope of obtaining more favorable rulings.

“From the viewpoint of a stable energy supply, it’s necessary to reduce the legal risks as much as possible,” Kansai Economic Federation chairman and former Kepco Chairman Shosuke Mori said at his regular news conference last month.

Other pro-nuclear Kansai economic leaders support Mori’s call for legal changes.

“Why should the nation’s energy policy be impaired by a judge at a district court? I hope the law is quickly changed so this doesn’t happen,” said Kansai Economic Federation Vice Chairman and Hankyu Railways Chairman Kazuo Sumi after the initial Oita ruling in March.

In their request for a temporary injunction on the Ikata unit, citizens’ groups cite the fact that it lies about 5 km from the Median Tectonic Line, which runs from Kyushu to Honshu. They also say that evacuation plans in the event of a natural disaster that damages the plant could prove impossible if the roads along the narrow, landslide-prone peninsula hosting it collapse or are washed away by a tsunami…….http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/12/national/shikoku-electric-poised-fire-ehime-plant-mox-reactor-amid-protests/#.V642mlt97Gg

August 13, 2016 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Lawsuit claims that US aid to Israel is illegal under the Foreign Aid Act

justiceFlag-USALawsuit claims US aid to Israel violates nuclear pact Institute for Research: highly-recommendedMiddle Eastern Policy says atomic powers who don’t sign NPT aren’t legally eligible for American money, Times of Israel, BY JTA August 12, 2016   A  lawsuit filed in a US district court claims that American aid to Israel is illegal under a law passed in the 1970s that prohibits aid to nuclear powers who don’t sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, who filed the lawsuit Monday with a Washington DC court, said the United States has given Israel an estimated $234 billion in foreign aid since Congress in 1976 passed the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act, with its stipulation regarding countries that did not sign the NPT, according to Courthouse News.

Discussing his August 8 lawsuit in an interview to Court House News, Smith said the litigation has been 10 years in the making.

Though Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Smith noted that it is a known nuclear power and recipient of US aid. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied possession of nuclear weapons but is widely believed to possess dozens if not hundreds of nuclear warheads.

The US has had a long-standing policy of keeping mum on the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, an open secret that successive US administrations since Gerald Ford have refused to publicly acknowledge.

Smith’s lawsuit comes on the eve of an aid deal that would boost US assistance to the country by between $1 billion and $2 billion per year over a decade. Israel already gets $3 billion a year in US aid.

In addition to the United States and President Barack Obama, the complaint names as defendants Secretary of State John Kerry, CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and the secretaries of the Treasury, Energy and Commerce Departments.

“Defendants have collectively engaged in a violation of administrative procedure and the Take Care Clause by unlawful failure to act upon facts long in their possession while prohibiting the release of official government information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, particularly ongoing illicit transfers of nuclear weapons material and technology from the US to Israel,” the 33-page lawsuit states.

To sustain a policy of “nuclear ambiguity” on Israel’s weapons program, Smith says the government uses improper classification and threatens federal employees and researchers with prosecution, fines and imprisonment.

The gag is driven, according to the complaint, by a Department of Energy directive known as WNP-136, Foreign Nuclear Capabilities. Smith says his digging under the Freedom of Information Act brought a version of the document to light that was “nearly 90 percent redacted.”

“This is an Energy Department directive that demands imprisonment for any federal official or contractor who even mentions that Israel might have a nuclear weapons program,” Smith said in an interview.

In the lawsuit, Smith says foreign aid to Israel violates two amendments of the 1961 Foreign Aid Act, known as the Symington and Glenn amendments, which ban aid to clandestine nuclear powers……..http://www.timesofisrael.com/lawsuit-claims-us-aid-to-israel-violates-atomic-pact/

August 13, 2016 Posted by | Legal, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Chinese executives charged with spying on USA nuclear technology, particularly Small Nuclear Reactor plans

computer-spy-nukeUS government accuses Hinkley point partner of nuclear espionage, SC Magazine, , 12 Aug 16  Major partners in the controversial nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point have been accused in American courts of attempting to steal US nuclear technology.  Fears over Chinese involvement in a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point have been reinforced as a major partner in the plant’s development has been accused by the US government of nuclear espionage.

Szuhsiung Ho, an advisor to the state-owned China General Nuclear Power (CGN) company, which would have a 33 percent stake in the new plant at Hinkley, has been charged with “conspiracy to unlawfully engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the United States”.

Essentially, the US Department of Justice has accused Szuhsiung Ho, otherwise known as Allen Ho, of trying to steal US nuclear technology.

Ho, under orders from CGN, is supposed to have tried to get US nuclear experts to help develop nuclear material in China. According to a statement released by the DoJ, for nearly 20 years, between 1997 and 2016,  Ho “identified, recruited and executed contracts with US-based experts from the civil nuclear industry who provided technical assistance related to the development and production of special nuclear material”.

Of particular interest to Ho and his co-conspirators was assistance with CGN’s programmes on small modular reactors, advanced fuel assembly and fixed in-core detectors.

If one is to act as an agent of a foreign power within the United States, their status must be declared to the US attorney general. Not only did Ho not do this but explicitly told those he was trying to recruit that he was acting on behalf of the Chinese state. The DoJ records him as telling his potential recruits that he was working surreptitiously to help China “to design their Nuclear Instrumentation System independently and manufacture them independently”.

None of the accusations have yet been proven but the charges could carry a sentence of life and a US$250,000 (£192,000) fine.

The case is being pursued by a number of US law enforcement agencies including the Department of Energy – National Nuclear Security Administration and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Executive assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch Michael Steinbach said in a statement, “The arrest and indictment in this case send an important message to the US nuclear community that foreign entities want the information you possess”.

“The federal government has regulations in place to oversee civil nuclear cooperation, and if those authorities are circumvented, this can result in significant damage to our national security. The US will use all of its law enforcement tools to stop those who try to steal US nuclear technology and expertise.”…….http://www.scmagazineuk.com/us-government-accuses-hinkley-point-partner-of-nuclear-espionage/article/515702/

August 13, 2016 Posted by | China, Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Previously classified documents help legal case for thorium affected nuclear workers

Once secret documents helping lawyers argue for sick nuclear workers at South Carolina complex Unlike many lawyers, Bob Warren agreed to represent sick workers at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The pay has been low, but Warren has for 13 years handled their cases in hopes of gaining compensation from the federal government. He’s done so, despite battling Parkinson’s disease and financial difficulties.Today, he continues to press their cases from a tiny law office in Black Mountain, N.C.  BY SAMMY FRETWELL sfretwell@thestate.com COLUMBIA, SC , 11 Aug 16, 

sick worker Idaho

Lawyers are using once-classified government documents to argue that potentially thousands of sick nuclear weapons workers and their families should be eligible for federal benefits.

The documents, released late last year, provide evidence that some workers at the Savannah River Site were exposed to thorium after 1972 even though the government said the South Carolina plant no longer had significant quantities of the radioactive material, said Bob Warren, an attorney representing ex-SRS employees.

Warren said the federal records show that SRS had ample amounts of thorium, a metal used in nuclear reactions that can cause cancer. Warren obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act from the U.S. Department of Energy after a three-year wait.

“Without this information, we would not be able to go forward,’’ Warren said in an interview with The State. “These documents are pivotal in making the case.’’

In a letter to a government radiation advisory board, Warren asks that more people employed at SRS be compensated for illnesses they contracted while working there.

Warren’s request, to be discussed by the advisory board Wednesday, seeks to expand a federal compensation program by making it easier for people who worked at SRS from 1973-2007 to gain benefits for cancer the site caused.

The federal government has already made it easier for many sick workers employed before 1973 at SRS to receive compensation because of likely exposure to thorium at the site.

Those eligible for benefits could get up to $400,000 each under the federal compensation program. The program, available to sick workers at federal weapons complexes across the country, has been criticized as a bureaucratic maze of rules so tough that many deserving people have been denied benefits. Some ex-workers have died before receiving compensation, according to a McClatchy newspapers investigation last year.

“There is no reason not to expand,’’ Warren’s written comments said, noting that approving his request would make “many more workers and their survivors eligible for benefits from the … program before they die.’’

Warren said if he is successful, several thousand people who worked at SRS from 1973 to 2007 could receive benefits.

SRS is a 310-square mile federal atomic weapons site near Aiken along the Georgia border. It was a cornerstone of the nation’s Cold War nuclear weapons production effort, at times employing more than 10,000 people. Many who worked there were exposed to radiation, and some now say the exposure made them sick.

Federal officials charged with recommending whether to expand the program are expected to challenge Warren’s arguments at Wednesday’s meeting of the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health. But Warren said it’s hard to dispute what he has found in more than 1,300 pages of records that the government released.

The documents, many of which were previously classified, contradict past federal justification for not expanding the compensation program, he said. The records indicate that thorium existed in notable quantities for years at SRS after 1972 – despite government arguments that it did not.

Among the documents are:

▪  Handwritten records from SRS officials showing that more than 8 tons of thorium were stored at the site in 1998.

▪ A 1982 memo from a ranking SRS official showing that thorium was among the radioactive materials the government wanted to discard.

▪  A 1976 inventory report showing about 7 tons of thorium on the site.

In addition, Warren’s comment letter to the advisory board uses the deposition of a top site official to show that the government had no bioassay medical screening program for thorium exposure before 2000.

Thorium is used in the aerospace industry and in nuclear reactions. Breathing thorium dust may cause an increased chance of lung disease as well as lung and pancreatic cancer years after being exposed, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Thorium, which is odorless and tasteless, also has been linked to bone cancer, the agency reports.

The 1,300 pages released by the government now “definitely show thorium shipments to, and in some cases from, SRS after 1972,’’ Warren’s letter says. In the past, federal health officials charged with giving the advisory board information have not provided documentation that would have helped the board recommend expanding the program to cover more recent years, he said.

The Department of Energy had no immediate comment on the thorium issue. It could be months before Warren’s request is resolved……….

Under the federal compensation program, employees sickened by numerous types of cancer at SRS and other federal weapons sites must show that the radiation they received was a significant cause of their illnesses. But the government also can declare entire classes of workers as eligible without requiring each worker to document his or her doses. The class designation can occur when individual dosage records are unavailable to workers.

Bioassy records are unavailable for individual workers to show exposure to thorium, Warren said. So Warren argues that all workers from 1973-2007 should be eligible for compensation. In 2011, he was successful in persuading the government to make workers prior to 1973 eligible for compensation because of thorium exposure.

Warren’s petition is part of a 14-year-effort to obtain compensation for people who say they were sickened by radiation at SRS. An attorney in Black Mountain, N.C., Warren is one of the few lawyers who took on SRS compensation cases, which do not pay attorneys well. He plans to retire soon because of health problems but he works with South Carolina lawyers Warren Johnson and Joshua Fester, who will continue the work.

Nationally, the government has paid more than $12 billion to sick ex-nuclear workers and their families, including those from SRS, McClatchy newspapers reported last year. The energy employees compensation program began in 2001. http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article94448307.html

August 12, 2016 Posted by | health, Legal, Reference, thorium | Leave a comment