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Ex-Southern California Chief Justice Toal Takes Over Nuclear Debacle Cases

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September 16, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Vietnamese trainees sue Fukushima firm over nuclear decontamination work

Vietnamese trainees sue Fukushima firm over decontamination work, September 5, 2019 (Mainichi Japan, TOKYO (Kyodo) — Three Vietnamese men on a foreign trainee program in Japan have sued a construction company for making them conduct radioactive decontamination work related to the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture without prior explanation, supporters of the plaintiffs said Wednesday.

The lawsuit, dated Tuesday and filed with a branch of the Fukushima District Court, demanded that Hiwada Co., based in Koriyama in the northeastern Japan prefecture, pay a total of about 12.3 million yen in damages, according to the supporters.

The case is the latest in a string of inappropriate practices under the Japanese government’s Technical Intern Training Program which has been often criticized as a cover for cheap labor.

According to Zentouitsu Workers Union, a Tokyo-based labor union that supports foreign trainees, Hiwada made the plaintiffs conduct decontamination work in the cities of Koriyama and Motomiya in Fukushima Prefecture between 2016 and 2018……. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190905/p2g/00m/0na/014000c

September 7, 2019 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear company FirstEnergy Solutions wants Supreme to stop Ohio statewide vote on financial rescue of nuke plants

Nuclear plants want court to stop vote on financial rescue,  https://www.13abc.com/content/news/Nuclear-plants-want-court-to-stop-vote-on-financial-rescue-559374661.html  COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) 4 Sept 19,  – The owner of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants is asking the state Supreme Court to block a proposed statewide vote that aims to overturn a financial rescue for the plants.

FirstEnergy Solutions argues in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that the financial rescue approved by state lawmakers in July can’t be overturned by voters because it amounts to a tax.

The company says the Ohio Constitution prohibits tax levies from being overturned by voters.

Opponents of the $1.5 billion rescue package for the nuclear plants and two coal-fired plants are collecting signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November 2020.

The financial rescue adds a new fee on every electricity bill in the state and scales back requirements that utilities generate more power from wind and solar.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Catholic peace activists to face trial on 21 October

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

FirstEnergy Solutions moves to ditch union contracts for bailed out nuclear plants, drawing Democrats’ ire

FirstEnergy Solutions moves to ditch union contracts for bailed out plants, drawing Democrats’ ire

FirstEnergy Solutions’ veteran nuclear plant workers would lose traditional pensions if a bankruptcy court agrees with the latest FES restructuring plan, Utility Dive,   John Funk Aug. 15 2019, “…….

On the same day in July that Ohio lawmakers approved state-wide customer charges to give FirstEnergy Solutions a six-year $1.1 billon nuclear plant subsidy, the company told a bankruptcy court it could not honor existing contracts with unions representing power plant employees and intended to negotiate completely new bargaining agreements once it emerged as a reorganized company.
That revelation emerged Friday in an objection to the company’s latest reorganization plan by lawyers representing locals of the Utility Workers Union of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The unions were among more than half dozen parties in the case filing objections.

In a reference to the FES reorganization plan filed July 23 — less than 12 hours after House Bill 6 had been approved by the legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine — the unions argue that the company intends to use the court to emerge from bankruptcy without its union contracts. And that contradicts the testimony of David Griffing, the company’s vice president of governmental affairs, the union filing to the court charges.

Griffing assured lawmakers in April before an Ohio House subcommittee that “that new [collective bargaining agreements] were in essence agreed upon … Both parties … believe the negotiations were acceptable.” But Friday’s filing on behalf of the union locals indicates that the company has neither agreed to assume the existing contracts nor reached new ones with the unions at two of the three FES nuclear plants, Perry, east of Cleveland and Beaver Valley, near Pittsburgh.

The struggle between the company and its unions is erupting publicly just weeks before court hearings are scheduled on the company’s bankruptcy reorganization plan and also comes at a time when opponents of HB 6 are gearing up a referendum petition drive to put the subsidy issue before voters on the November 2020 ballot.

The union is basing its position in the bankruptcy struggle to remain viable at the power plants on the argument that “successorship clauses” in the contracts obligate FES to require any new company — including a reorganized FirstEnergy Solutions — to assume the contracts as they were agreed to.  The unions point out that FES abided by that contract language when it sold other power plants to outside companies.

FES: Can’t assume the contract

The company position, as laid out in its July 23 reorganization plan, is that the reorganized FES cannot assume the contract because “the collective bargaining agreements require the Debtors to provide benefits to their employees under health care, severance, welfare, incentive compensation, and retirement plans sponsored by FirstEnergy Corp.”

Instead, FES wants to negotiate new terms “consistent with the business plan” of the reorganized company. FES also held out the possibility that it might ask the court to throw out the contracts.

The unions are countering that under the bankruptcy code and existing case law, the company must declare before reorganization whether it is rejecting the contract. “They simply want the benefit of plan confirmation, without deciding whether to assume or reject,” the union attorneys wrote. “However this is not what the law provides.”

The union filing reveals that in bargaining talks over the past few months the company has contended that the benefits in the existing union contracts, particularly the pension benefits, “are non-replicable.”

The union filing also notes that it would have the right to file an “administrative damage claim” later if the issue is not resolved now and the company later decides to reject the contracts out of hand.

Unions play key role in HB 6

The power plant unions played what has been described as a key role in the company’s media and lobbying campaigns to persuade Democrat lawmakers of the necessity of approving the unprecedented bailout in Ohio of an unregulated power plant company……
 Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, issued a statement Monday questioning FirstEnergy Solutions’ move and praising unions for quickly filing their objection in bankruptcy court.

“HB 6 was problematic because I thought it was a bad idea to direct rate payer money to a corporation who refused to unequivocally agree to protect and support union contracts and the men and women who rely on those contracts to put food on their table,” Sykes wrote.

“Less than 12 hours after the bill was signed into law, the ink hardly dry, FirstEnergy Solutions began backing away from the workers who depend on those jobs. FES can make this right by coming to the table and affirming and recognizing these union employees who deserve to be treated fairly through this process,” she continued………  https://www.utilitydive.com/news/firstenergy-solutions-moves-to-ditch-union-contracts-for-bailed-out-plants/560236/?fbclid=IwAR3qbI100d-e46tFg5caow77Aer8fg3QfZ0Ud8H1J-84f5tJS0M85_bRcJ0

August 22, 2019 Posted by | employment, Legal | Leave a comment

Harm to astronauts’ brains from space radiation

Space Radiation Will Damage Mars Astronauts’ Brains, Space.com By Mike Wall 9 Aug 19, Space radiation will take a toll on astronauts’ brains during the long journey to Mars, a new study suggests.

August 10, 2019 Posted by | deaths by radiation, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Catholic peace activists may face 25 years’prison, for breaking into a nuclear submarine base

These Catholics broke into a nuclear base. Now they’re asking a judge to drop the charges. Religion News Service, by Yonat Shimron, August 7, 2019  — Seven Catholic peace activists who broke into a nuclear submarine base in Kings Bay, Ga., last year stood before a federal judge Wednesday (Aug. 7) to argue that the charges against them should be dismissed.

The activists, known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, are charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor and face up to 25 years in prison each for trespassing on the U.S. Navy base that houses six Trident submarines carrying hundreds of nuclear weapons.

A crowd of about 100 people that included the actor Martin Sheen packed the three-hour hearing in Brunswick, Ga., as the seven and their lawyers made their case before U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood.

The defendants, mostly middle-aged or elderly, are residents of Catholic Worker houses, a collection of 200 independent houses across the country that feed and house the poor. As the hearing began, several were in the middle of a four-day liquid-only fast to mark the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The Kings Bay 7 are part of a 39-year-old anti-nuclear movement called Plowshares, inspired by the pacific prediction of the biblical prophet Isaiah that the nations of the world shall “beat their swords into plowshares.” Its activists have made a signature of breaking into nuclear weapons bases to hammer on buildings and military hardware and pour human blood on them. …….

The group individually and through its lawyers are using a novel defense: the Religion Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law that says the government may not burden the faith practices of a person with sincerely held religious beliefs……

Three of the defendants, the Rev. Steve Kelly, Elizabeth McAlister and Mark Colville, have been in jail since the break-in last year. They declined to accept the conditions of the bail — an ankle monitor and $50,000 bail — and have remained in the Glynn County Detention Center.

Ira Lupu, professor emeritus of law at the George Washington University Law School, said he had great respect and admiration for the Plowshares’ actions but suspected they would not win a dismissal of their charges……

The judge is expected to issue an opinion in a few weeks on whether the case should proceed to a trial. https://religionnews.com/2019/08/07/these-catholics-broke-into-a-nuclear-base-now-theyre-asking-a-judge-to-drop-the-charges/

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Legal, opposition to nuclear, Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Belgium broke law but can keep nuclear plants open, EU court rules

Belgium broke law but can keep nuclear plants open, EU court rules,  DW, 31 July 19

Belgium’s self-imposed deadline for giving up nuclear power is not far off. Environmentalists look forward to the end of the atomic era, but not everyone thinks the country is ready to change course.  The European Union’s top court ruled on Monday that Belgium can continue to run two aging nuclear reactors, despite breaking EU law by not carrying out the necessary environmental audits.

By failing to carry out the environmental assessments before prolonging the life of Doel 1 and 2 nuclear reactors near the northern port city of Antwerp, Belgium infringed EU law, the court ruled.

However, the plants could stay open provisionally, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said: “Where there is a genuine and serious threat of an interruption to electricity supply.”

More than half of Belgium’s electricity is generated by nuclear power with reactors in Doel and in Tihange, in the east, near the border with Germany. But a 2003 law says the country’s last reactor must shut down by December 1, 2025.

The grid operator Elia has warned of a “serious crisis” if the government doesn’t act to fill gaps in production.   Despite recent technical hitches, some think Belgium has no choice but to keep its nuclear plants running.

Impact assessments

In recent years, reactors at both the Doel power station near Antwerp (pictured above) and the Tihange plant near Liège have been shut down temporarily because inspectors found tiny cracks caused by hydrogen flakes. During one period last autumn, six of Belgium’s seven reactors were down at the same time.

Nuclear power always carries risks, including the potential for leakage and cyber attacks, according to Sara Van Dyck from BBL, a Belgian environmental NGO. She says Belgium’s two nuclear plants “were designed in other times with other security standards.” The reactors all started production between 1975 and 1985.

The problems have attracted protest. In 2017, tens of thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators formed a human chain stretching from Tihange to the nearby Dutch city of Maastricht and the German city of Aachen. The Antwerp-based “elf Maart Beweging” (March 11 Movement),” named after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011, says keeping the Doel plant running is tantamount to playing “Russian roulette with Antwerp.” Doel has more people living in the vicinity of a nuclear plant than anywhere else in Europe — 9 million within 75 kilometers (46 miles). …….

What all sides can agree on is that Belgium must make a decision, one way or another. Following the national elections in May, the country still doesn’t have a new government, and can’t afford to skirt the issue.  https://www.dw.com/en/belgium-broke-law-but-can-keep-nuclear-plants-open-eu-court-rules/a-49787150

August 1, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

Lies and deceptions surrounding the planned costly bailout of Ohio’s nuclear power plants

There’s still time to say no to Ohio’s costly nuclear bailout   https://www.crainscleveland.com/opinion/personal-view-theres-still-time-say-no-ohios-costly-nuclear-bailout  Jeff Barge  21 July 19, There may have been a case once for Ohio to subsidize FirstEnergy Solutions’ two nuclear plants in Ohio. But the company’s deceit and dishonesty in providing false and misleading information to the state legislature and the public now make that virtually impossible. That may be why the bailout failed to pass as scheduled on July 17 by one vote and may not be brought up again until Aug. 1.

July 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Tahitians remember atomic bomb tests and withdraw from France’s propaganda memorial project

Marchers in Tahiti ‘mourn’ French nuclear weapons test legacy  https://asiapacificreport.nz/2019/07/05/marches-in-tahiti-mourn-french-nuclear-weapons-test-legacy/, By PMC Editor -July 5, 2019 , By RNZ Pacific

An estimated 2000 people have joined a march in French Polynesia this week to mark the 53rd anniversary of France’s first atomic weapons test in the Pacific.

The first test was on July 2, 1966, after nuclear testing was moved from Algeria to the Tuamotus.

Organisers of the Association 193 described it as a “sad date that plunged the Polynesia people into mourning forever”. The test on Moruroa atoll was the first of 193 which were carried out over three decades until 1996.

The march was to the Place Pouvanaa a Oopa honouring a Tahitian leader.

The march and rally were called by test veterans’ groups and the Maohi Protestant church to also highlight the test victims’ difficulties in getting compensation for ill health.

After changes to the French compensation law, the nuclear-free organisation Moruroa e Tatou wants it to be scrapped as it now compensates no-one. The Association 193 said it was withdrawing from the project of the French state and the French Polynesian government to build a memorial site in Papeete, saying it will only serve as propaganda.

Apart from reparations for the victims, the organisation wants studies to be carried out into the genetic impact of radiation exposure.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | France, Legal, OCEANIA, opposition to nuclear, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Unrepentant, Catholic anti-nuclear activists face gaol for breaking into a nuclear base

July 13, 2019 Posted by | legal, opposition to nuclear, Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fraud, money-laundering, convictions of staff at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor

THREE CONVICTED IN DIMONA NUCLEAR RESEARCH AGENCY FRAUD, Besides the three individual defendants, the case also led to charges against two entities used by the defendants. Jerusalem Post, BY YONAH JEREMY BOB JULY 4, 2019
The Beersheba District Court has convicted three persons engaged by Israel’s nuclear research agency in Dimona of an NIS 3.2 million fraud scheme, including also money-laundering and breach of trust.

Announced for the first time by the court spokesperson’s office on Wednesday, the convictions and jail sentences of the three were actually handed down in April and earlier, but were under gag order due to the implications for national security.
Unlike a normal case probed by police, the investigation was led by a special division in the Defense Ministry which eventually worked with a special team in the state prosecution – again all due to the extreme sensitivity of all issues related to Dimona.

Israel has never confirmed that it has nuclear weapons, but according to foreign sources, the Dimona reactor has been used to produce between 80-200 nuclear weapons which Israel can deploy by land, sea and air.

The central defendant, an external consultant in 2002 who eventually became a senior manager within the Negev Nuclear Research Center in 2011, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined NIS 100,000. Another defendant was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined NIS 75,000. A third defendant had cut a plea deal with the state at an earlier date. Due to the cooperative plea deal, the third defendant received only six months of community service and a NIS 50,000 fine.

Unlike a normal case probed by police, the investigation was led by a special division in the Defense Ministry which eventually worked with a special team in the state prosecution – again all due to the extreme sensitivity of all issues related to Dimona.

Besides the three individual defendants, the case also led to charges against two entities used by the defendants.
Combined, the court fined those companies or seized assets worth NIS 450,000.

A statement by the Justice Ministry said that some of the defendants had appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. …….

Many of the details remain under gag order, but broadly speaking, the defendants started to scheme as early as 2011 to have the nuclear agency pay significant funds to outside entities, which the defendants controlled, for services…….. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Three-convicted-in-Dimona-nuclear-research-agency-fraud-594539

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Israel, legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Settlement Talks Collapse in $200-Million Lawsuit over Savannah River Plutonium

BY DAN LEONE,  3 May 19, After settlement talks collapsed, a federal judge this week cleared the way for a long-awaited decision in a $200-million lawsuit between South Carolina and the Department of Energy over the federal government’s failure to remove plutonium from the state. The… (subscribers only)  https://www.exchangemonitor.com/settlement-talks-collapse-200-million-lawsuit-savannah-river-plutonium-2/

July 4, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Appeals Court Hears Argument On Nuclear Plant Decision

Appeals Court Hears Argument On Nuclear Plant Decision,Wabe.org,  • JUN 18, 2019  THE GEORGIA COURT OF APPEALS HEARD ARGUMENTS TUESDAY ABOUT WHETHER A STATE DECISION TO CONTINUE EXPANDING PLANT VOGTLE BROKE ANY REGULATORY RULES. A FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE DISMISSED THE CASE ON TECHNICAL GROUNDS IN DECEMBER, AND APPELLANTS ARE REQUESTING RECONSIDERATION OF THAT DISMISSAL.Georgia Power is expanding Plant Vogtle, a nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Ga. It’s the only nuclear power plant under construction in the country.

The Public Service Commission, which regulates Georgia Power, has to review Plant Vogtle’s ongoing costs during semiannual Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) reports. Back in 2017, during VCM 17 the Commission had a big decision to make: should Georgia Power continue construction, even though its contractor was going bankrupt from building it?

The commission decided yes, the higher costs and longer schedule were acceptable enough for the project to continue.

The advocacy groups in court, including Georgia Watch and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light are trying to challenge the decision, saying it was more than just checking expenses.

“This didn’t limit itself to simply approving expenditures that had accrued and been spent,” John Salter, the advocates’ lawyer, said…

…Now the court will decide by the end of the year if the advocates have the grounds to challenge that 2017 decision. https://www.wabe.org/appeals-court-hears-argument-on-nuclear-plant-decision/

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

USA court deliberates on whether or not global warming violates children’s rights

US court weighs if climate change violates children’s rights    Business Mirror, By The Associated Press,

A Justice Department attorney warned three judges from the ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals that allowing the case to go to trial would be unprecedented and would open the doors to more lawsuits.

“This case would have earth-shattering consequences,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark said.

He called the lawsuit “a direct attack on the separation of powers” and said the 21 young people who filed it want the courts to direct US energy policy, instead of government officials.

The young people are pressing the government to stop promoting the use of fossil fuels, saying sources like coal and oil cause climate change and violate their Fifth Amendment rights to life, liberty and property.

The judges seemed to feel the enormity of the case, which the plaintiffs’ lawyer compared in scope to the US Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling that mandated desegregation of schools in the 1950s.

The dire threat to people, particularly the young, demands such action, said Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust, which is representing the plaintiffs.

“When our great-grandchildren look back on the 21st century, they will see that government-sanctioned climate destruction was the constitutional issue of this century,” Olson told the judges.

The  lawsuit  asks the courts to declare federal energy policy that contributes to climate change unconstitutional, order the government to quickly phase out carbon-dioxide emissions to a certain level by 2100 and mandate a national climate recovery plan…….

The young people argue that government officials have known for more than 50 years that carbon pollution from fossil fuels causes climate change and that policies promoting oil and gas deprive them of their constitutional rights.

Lawyers for President Donald  J. Trump’s administration say the young people didn’t find any “historical basis for a fundamental right to a stable climate system or any other constitutional right related to the environment.”

The lawsuit says the young are more vulnerable to serious effects from climate change in the future. The American Academy of Pediatrics, 14 other health organizations, and nearly 80 scientists and doctors agreed in a brief filed with the appeals court.

They pointed out that the World Health Organization estimates 88 percent of the global health burden of climate change falls on children younger than five. The case has become a focal point for many youth activists, and the courtroom in Portland was packed.

If the ninth Circuit judges decide the lawsuit can move forward, it would go before the US District Court in Eugene, where the case was filed. The appeals court judges will rule later.  https://businessmirror.com.ph/2019/06/10/us-court-weighs-if-climate-change-violates-childrens-rights/

June 10, 2019 Posted by | climate change, legal, USA | Leave a comment