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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

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

European Commission investigating French government’s financing of AREVA nuclear comnpany

Hollande-salesEurope checks French state aid for Areva restructuring, WNN 20 July 2016 The European Commission has launched an investigation to determine whether the French government’s contribution of €4.0 billion ($4.4 billion) towards the financing of the restructuring of Areva meets EU rules on state aid.

In late July 2015, EDF and Areva announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding setting out the principal terms and conditions for EDF to take a majority share in Areva’s reactor business, Areva NP. Areva – which has been experiencing financial difficulties for over five years – plans to create a new group later this year that will bring together all its fuel cycle operations: mining, chemistry, enrichment, recycling, dismantling, logistics and related engineering. And in April 2016 France notified the European Commission of a restructuring plan to return the Areva Group’s competitiveness and improve its financial position. The plan includes state aid in the form of a public capital injection of €4.0 billion. It also involves a renewed focus on the nuclear fuel cycle through various divestments and withdrawal from certain activities.

Areva – in which the French state owns, either directly or indirectly, an 86.5% stake – plans to launch a capital increase by the first quarter of 2017. The company earlier said, “The French state has indicated its intention of subscribing to it and ensuring its complete success, in compliance with European regulations.”

According to European guidelines on state aid for rescuing and restructuring companies in difficulty, aid to rescue such firms can only be granted for up to six months. Beyond this period, aid must either be reimbursed or a restructuring plan must be approved by the European Commission to allow aid for the company’s restructuring. The plan must ensure that the long-term viability of a company is restored without further state support, that the distortions of competition induced by the state aid are addressed by specific measures and that the company contributes to the cost of restructuring. Restructuring aid may only be granted once over a period of ten years.

The European Commission announced yesterday it has opened an in-depth investigation into the French government’s financial contribution to Areva’s restructuring…..http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Europe-checks-French-state-aid-for-Areva-restructuring-2007164.html

August 10, 2016 Posted by | Legal | 2 Comments

US Dept Energy ordered by court to hand over Idaho nuclear waste documents

judge-1Court orders feds to turn over Idaho nuclear waste documents http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/court-orders-feds-to-turn-over-idaho-nuclear-waste-documents/ August 9, 2016 By  The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Department of Energy to make available to the court documents sought by former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus involving nuclear waste shipments to eastern Idaho.

U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill on Monday ordered the agency to produce the documents within a week so Winmill can determine whether to make them public.

Andrus filed a lawsuit in September after Energy Department officials responded to Andrus’ Freedom of Information Act request with heavily redacted documents.  Andrus wants information on research shipments of spent nuclear fuel to the Idaho National Laboratory that require a waiver to a 1995 agreement.Andrus says the waiver would make the state a nuclear waste repository.

Energy Department officials didn’t immediately respond to inquiries from The Associated Press on Tuesday.

August 10, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

New York “s Clean Energy standard drafted with an effort to avoid legal challenges about nuclear subsidy

justiceNY Attempts to Thread Legal Needle with Clean Energy Standard, Nuke Incentives, RTO Insider, 

August 8, 2016 By William Opalka

The U.S. Supreme Court cast a long shadow as New York regulators drafted the Clean Energy Standard and its incentives to preserve upstate nuclear power plants.

Audrey Zibelman, chair of the state Public Service Commission, said that the order adopted last week was drafted to avoid legal challenges that could jeopardize the standard’s goal of generating 50% of the state’s power from renewable resources by 2030. PSC lawyers feared challenges to the zero-emission credit (ZEC) program for nuclear plants and the way in which renewable energy development is encouraged. (See New York Adopts Clean Energy Standard, Nuclear Subsidy.)……

ZEC Pricing

New York has priced ZECs based on EPA’s social cost of carbon, minus prices for carbon allowances sold under the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, in which New York participates. Load-serving entities must purchase ZECs, which recognize the carbon-free attribute of nuclear power, proportionate to their annual energy sales.

Although it was designed to be similar to the REC procurement, the ZEC program may face a legal challenge that the mandate would suppress energy and capacity prices.

A group of power generators advanced that argument during the public comment period last month.

The comments were “a dry run driving right at the heart of ZEC,” said David Appelbaum, an attorney for the New York Power Authority. “They’re going to try to derail this. I don’t know if they’re going to be successful.”

The suppliers, 11 power generators and marketers, say the ZEC proposal violates the Federal Power Act and impinges on FERC jurisdiction over wholesale markets. “It conflicts with FERC’s policy that the NYISO’s capacity market provide the necessary price signals to encourage maintenance of existing, and development of new, facilities to meet reliability needs,” the suppliers contend. “But for the artificial price suppression, prospective new generators that may have been economic may forego entry, and existing generators that may have been economic may prematurely retire.”

The PSC order sought to head off this line of attack. The proposal “does not establish wholesale energy or capacity prices; it only establishes pricing for attributes completely outside of the wholesale commodity markets administered by NYISO,” the order states. “To the contrary, it addresses a well recognized externality that otherwise would lead to economic inefficiencies with respect to the costs incurred due to environmental damage, in particular, climate change.”

John Reese, the senior vice president of Eastern Generation, one of the suppliers, told RTO Insider on Monday that no decisions on any appeal have been made.

“We continue to look at all of the options, so we are in the process of deciding what is the best action to take,” he said. http://www.rtoinsider.com/new-york-clean-energy-standard-30101/

August 10, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Japanese Government Wins in Supreme Court: Tents of Anti-Nuclear Groups Next to METI Ministry Building to Be Forcibly Removed

judge-1flag-japan On July 28, Japan’s Supreme Court handed down its ruling in a case filed originally by the national government over tents pitched by anti-nuclear groups outside buildings of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. It upheld an earlier order that the groups evacuate and pay for their use of the land.

The court’s petty bench, led by Judge Naoto Ohtani, rejected an appeal made by members of the groups against a lower court ruling. The Tokyo District Court is expected to carry out the forcible removal of the tents upon the request of the government, though members of the groups are expected to resist……..
The ruling includes an order that two defendants of the groups pay about JPY21,000 (USD206 at USD1 = JPY102) per day for use of the land, for a total of nearly JPY40 million (USD392,000) for the five-year period, plus interest.
http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japanese-government-wins-in-supreme-court-tents-of-anti-nuclear-groups-next-to-meti-ministry-building-to-be-forcibly-removed/

August 8, 2016 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Non-profit World Business Academy sues Lands Commission over Diablo Canyon Nuclear Station

justiceFlag-USASanta Barbara nonprofit sues Lands Commission over Diablo Canyon, Cal Coast News, August 3, 2016
By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A Santa Barbara-based nonprofit has filed a lawsuit against the California State Lands Commission, alleging the agency wrongfully approved a new lease for the cooling system at Diablo Canyon power plant. The lawsuit claims state law mandates than Diablo Canyon undergo an environmental review.

On June 28, the three-member State Lands Commission voted unanimously to approve a new tidelands lease for the Diablo Canyon cooling system. The decision will allow PG&E to continue operating the nuclear plant until 2025, when the utility plans to shut it down. If PG&E did not obtain the new lease, it faced the possibility of closing Diablo Canyon as early as 2018.

The World Business Academy, a think tank that opposes nuclear power and promotes renewable energy, filed its lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The suit demands that state officials review potential environmental and public health dangers that could occur due to continued operation of Diablo Canyon.

California law mandates a project undergo an environmental review when any unusual circumstances exist, the lawsuit states. The World Business Academy claims there are numerous unusual circumstances surrounding Diablo Canyon. They include: high seismic risk; adverse health impacts from continuing emissions of radioactive isotopes; devastating impacts on marine life; potential adverse impacts from a terror attack; leakage and buildup of radioactive waste; and Diablo Canyon’s status as the sole remaining nuclear plant in California.

Rinaldo Brutoco, the president of the nonprofit, said any of the unusual circumstances should have triggered an environmental review…….http://calcoastnews.com/2016/08/santa-barbara-nonprofit-sues-lands-commission-diablo-canyon/

August 5, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | 1 Comment

Potential for legal challenges to New York’s new Clean Energy Standard

justiceFlag-USAWith Clean Energy Standard, New York looks to save nukes, skirt legal challenges Regulators say three nuclear plants are essential to meeting state climate goals, but is their plan to save them legal? Utility Dive, By  | August 4, 2016  New York regulators approved an aggressive Clean Energy Standard this week that calls for 50% renewable energy and includes income supports to keep three upstate nuclear plants online. ……the order has been carefully crafted to pass federal or legal scrutiny, though a challenge is all but inevitable……

New York’s nuclear support is unique, in that it uses the federal government’s social cost of carbon as an integral part of the formula determining the level of financial support to plants. Regulators hope that formulation will insulate them from legal challenges, but the National Energy Marketers Association has argued that the nuclear supports are the same type of regulatory action invalidated by the Supreme Court in Hughes v. Talen Energy MarketingThe Natural Gas Supply Association has said the ZEC proposal steps into FERC’s territory…….
With parties on both sides of the issue staking out positions, a challenge in front of either federal regulators or a judge is likely. And because time is of the essence for these challenged plants, it remains unclear what impact a drawn out fight could have………
Potential legal challengesWith opposition to the CES bubbling among fossil fuel providers, its likely the decision will face some challenge, either regulatory or legal.

In the days after its announcement, much of the legal speculation has centered on Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing.

In a unanimous decision in April, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a controversial Maryland program to incentivize new in-state generation, finding that it intruded on federal authorities’ jurisdiction over wholesale energy markets.

That case is also being talked about in the context of Ohio’s struggles with uneconomic generation. A previous subsidy passed by that state was blocked by FERC, forcing the utilities to revise and reduce their subsidy proposals……http://www.utilitydive.com/news/with-clean-energy-standard-new-york-looks-to-save-nukes-skirt-legal-chall/423673/

August 5, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

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