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Judge: TVA Deal for Bellefonte Nuclear Plant Stays in Place

Power, 05/17/2019 | Darrell Proctor   A federal judge this week ruled the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) must continue to honor an agreement to sell the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant to a real estate developer who has said he would complete construction of the long-idled project.

U.S. District Court Judge Liles C. Burke, in a 17-page opinion issued after a hearing this week in Huntsville, Alabama, declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by developer Franklin Haney, who sued TVA in November 2018 for breach of contract after TVA said it could not complete the sale of the Bellefonte site and its assets to Haney’s Nuclear Development LLC.

Haney in 2016 was the winning bidder in an auction for Bellefonte, agreeing to pay $111 million for the twin-reactor nuclear plant. He sued TVA last year after the federally owned utility said it needed approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to authorize the sale.

TVA at the 2016 auction said the winning bidder would have two years to complete the purchase. Haney has argued he was ready to take over Bellefonte last year, though the NRC was still reviewing his application to resume construction at the site. TVA asked the district court to dismiss Haney’s lawsuit, saying federal rules require the sale to be authorized by the NRC, and thus TVA cannot legally sell the plant to Haney.

Nuclear Development filed a license transfer application with the NRC on Nov. 13, 2018, a couple of weeks after the sale’s original closing date, and just more than two weeks before an extended deadline to complete the sale by Nov. 30. TVA told Haney on Nov. 29 that it could not complete the transaction without approval of the license transfer by the NRC. In the sales agreement with Haney, TVA said “federal law at all times govern the validity, interpretation and enforceability” of the sale.

Developer: $30 Million Spent on Project……….

VA has until May 29 to respond to the court ruling. Burke has not ruled out that he could agree with TVA’s arguments if the case goes to trial. TVA, meanwhile, must maintain Bellefonte’s deferred construction permit for a possible transfer to Haney once a decision is reached in the case.

Haney has said his group can finish the nuclear plant, and sell its power for a competitive price. His group has not identified any utility or other customer that would buy Bellefonte’s electricity.

TVA has said that if the deal with Haney falls through, the utility would again put the site Bellefonte up for sale.

https://www.powermag.com/judge-tva-deal-for-bellefonte-nuclear-plant-stays-in-place/

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

Legal challenge to stop New Jersey bailout for nuclear power

New Jersey’s $300 Million Nuclear Power Bailout Is Facing a Court Challenge. Does It Have a Chance? The state’s utility advocate said regulators should not have approved the subsidies for the energy company PSEG.by Talia Buford , May 16,

But some of the board members who voted for subsidies had openly questioned the need for them, echoing concerns expressed by the board’s staff and objections raised by utility watchdogs.

Now, the unusual circumstances around the vote are the basis of a legal challenge by the state-appointed utility advocate, who says the subsidies — and the surcharge financing them — should be cut off.

In an appeal filed on Wednesday in state court, Stefanie Brand, the state’s rate counsel, said that by ignoring its own staff experts and providing little basis for the amount of the surcharge, the board had violated the law.

“It’s very unusual and inconsistent with the statute,” Brand said.

But will that argument persuade a court?

“It’s hard, in general, to beat regulators at their own game,” said Ari Peskoe, a lawyer and director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard Law School. ……..

“The significant thing about this filing is the rate counsel was given this on a silver platter on why these subsidies are unwarranted,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “It’s not a surprise that she’d be filing an appeal. I think the surprise is the ratepayer has such a strong case.”

The appeal focuses on four issues: the staff findings that PSEG didn’t meet the criteria for the subsidy; the board’s dismissal of those findings; the lack of reasoning for setting the subsidy rate at $0.004 per kilowatt hour, which was calculated to provide a total subsidy of $300 milion; and whether the amount of the subsidy represented clean-energy benefits as legislators claimed.

PSEG’s Hope Creek and Salem plants in Salem County make up the second-largest nuclear facility in the United States, and they serve as an economic anchor for the area, which is represented by New Jersey’s most powerful legislator, Senate President Stephen Sweeney. New Jersey passed its nuclear subsidy last year after intense lobbying by PSEG, which spent nearly $4 million in 2017 and 2018 on the effort.

Similar measures that offer incentives for nuclear plants to stay open after the companies have threatened to close them survived challenges in federal court. This month, Pennsylvania legislators said they didn’t have the support to bring the proposed subsidy bill to a vote, prompting Exelon to announce plans to close Three Mile Island nuclear plant in September.

Since the debate over the New Jersey measure began in 2017, Brand has questioned how legislators came up with the amount of the subsidy…….

At the board meeting last month, BPU staff and an independent consultant reported that PSEG was including some ineligible costs and inflating others in an attempt to satisfy the statute’s requirements, but they said that the facilities were not actually in danger of closing. …….

While the run-up to the BPU vote was marked by full-page newspaper ads and stories in local media, the only indication that customers were subsidizing PSEG’s nuclear plants was, for some, a note on the top corner of their latest bills. https://www.propublica.org/article/new-jerseys-300-million-nuclear-power-bailout-is-facing-a-court-challenge-does-it-have-a-chance#

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. federal board rejects objections to proposed New Mexico nuclear dump 

Federal panel rejects all objections to proposed New Mexico nuclear dump   https://www.krwg.org/post/federal-panel-rejects-all-objections-proposed-new-mexico-nuclear-dump?fbclid=IwAR1ROpcdsAWDegwnW0vib6ICXXy3q2lzDVTrrOuEbKN4ZbM90Q169XCM6Cc

 • MAY 7, 2019  On Tuesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that its Atomic Safety and Licensing Board had rejected every objection made by intervenors challenging Holtec International’s application to build a storage facility for high-level nuclear waste in southeast New Mexico.

Among the requests the panel refused to consider was the objection raised by Sierra Club that U.S. law clearly prohibits nuclear waste being moved to interim facilities before a permanent storage site has been identified. No such permanent sites exist in the U.S.

“This ‘interim’ storage facility could well become a permanent repository without the protections of a permanent repository,” Sierra Club attorney Wally Taylor said in response to Tuesday’s ruling. “Now it is up to the people and public officials in New Mexico to protect New Mexicans from this boondoggle.”

“New Mexico citizens should be very concerned about this project,” Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Nuclear-Waste Co-Chair John Buchser said. “Energy Secretary Rick Perry has indicated he is OK with the storage-site proposal in Texas, just across the New Mexico border, becoming a permanent facility.  The Sierra Club is very concerned about possible radioactive releases from containers designed for short-term storage. The transport of this highly radioactive waste is even more risky, and the nation’s rail system is not safe enough to transport this waste.”

Taylor, representing the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, and attorneys for Beyond Nuclear, Fasken, AFES and transportation intervenors raised nearly 50 different contentions before the three-judge board during oral arguments in January in Albuquerque.

The panel, charged with ruling on petitioners’ standing and the admissibility of their contentions under NRC regulations, agreed that some of the six petitioners, including the Sierra Club, had standing, but ruled that not not a single one of nearly 50 contentions raised were admissible for even an evidentiary hearing.

“The board won’t even consider transportation risk,” Buchser said.

“This decision is a perfect example and a lesson for the citizens of New Mexico and the United States of how the NRC process is shamelessly designed to prevent the public from participating,” Taylor said.

“It’s clear from the hearings across the state that the people of New Mexico don’t want this. They need to join forces and make that clear to New Mexico officials,” Taylor said. “State officials can pass and enforce laws that would require permits or other protections from the dangers posed by the transport of high-level radioactive waste to southeast New Mexico.”

The next step for Sierra Club is to appeal to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | legal, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Chelsea Manning is denied bail, by U.S. appeals court

U.S. appeals court denies Manning’s bail request, upholds contempt finding, Sarah N. Lynch, 24 Apr 19, WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning will remain in jail after a federal appeals court on Monday denied her request to be released on bail, and upheld a lower court’s decision to hold Manning in civil contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

The ruling is a blow to Manning, who has been detained since March after she declined to answer questions in connection with the government’s long-running investigation into Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.

In a comment released by a spokesman, Manning said that while disappointing, the appeals court ruling will still allow her to “raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process.”

I don’t have anything to contribute to this, or any other grand jury,” Manning added.

Assange was arrested on April 11 at Ecuador’s Embassy in London, after U.S. prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia unsealed a criminal case against him alleging he conspired with Manning to commit computer intrusion.

The Justice Department said Assange was arrested under an extradition treaty between the United States and Britain.

……Manning has tried to fight the grand jury subpoena in the Assange case, citing her First, Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights under the Constitution.

Manning’s lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, suggested prosecutors were abusing “grand jury power,” and that “the likely purpose of her subpoena is to help the prosecutor preview and undermine her potential testimony as a defense witness for a pending trial.”

Her lawyers have also argued that the courtroom was improperly sealed during substantial portions of the hearing.https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-manning/us-appeals-court-denies-mannings-bail-request-upholds-contempt-finding-idUSKCN1RY14O

April 25, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

ANOTHER FEDERAL JUDGE RULES THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ILLEGALLY ROLLED BACK CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS 

ON EVE OF EARTH DAY, ANOTHER FEDERAL JUDGE RULES THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ILLEGALLY ROLLED BACK CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS  https://www.atg.wa.gov/news/news-releases/eve-earth-day-another-federal-judge-rules-trump-administration-illegally-rolled   Apr 21 2019

AG Ferguson’s 20th legal victory against Trump Administration

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson released the following statement today after a federal judge in Montana ruled that the Trump Administration illegally revoked an Obama-era moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands, and must comply with a federal law requiring environmental analysis before leasing coal-mining rights on public lands:

“It’s fitting that on the eve of Earth Day, another federal judge slaps down the Trump Administration’s illegal effort to roll back basic environmental protections,” said Ferguson. “The Trump Administration illegally revoked the Obama-era moratorium on leasing public lands for coal-mining even though its Interior Department admitted it did not fully understand the societal and environmental impacts of extraction. This ruling sends a clear message that the federal government cannot take an action that impacts our environment without careful review and deliberation – which, to be polite, is not a strong suit of The Trump Administration.”

Case background

In May 2017, Ferguson filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management over a program to lease coal mining rights on public land, which contributes to significant coal-train traffic through the state of Washington. The lawsuit challenged then-Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to restart the federal coal-leasing program without supplementing or replacing its nearly 40-year-old environmental study.

The lawsuit was jointly filed by California, New Mexico, New York and Washington in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Great Falls Division.

Coal from federal leases following Zinke’s order would be transported by rail across Washington. In particular, coal from the Powder River Basin is shipped to or through the state. According to the Washington Department of Transportation, the baseline number of trains in 2015 numbered 70 per day on some track segments in the state, including multiple coal trains. Diesel exhaust and coal dust from uncovered coal train cars can negatively affect air quality.

Washington has a further interest in the effects of increased coal production and consumption on climate change. Washington experiences many negative effects of climate change, including rising ambient temperatures, a diminished and unpredictable snowpack necessary for water consumption and hydropower generation, and ocean warming and acidification, which is harmful to Washington’s shellfishery.

The AGO’s Counsel for Environmental Protection is handling the case for Washington.

Attorney General Ferguson created the Counsel for Environmental Protection in 2016 to protect our environment and the safety and health of all Washingtonians.

Ferguson has filed 35 lawsuits against the Trump Administration and has not lost a case. Ferguson now has 20 legal victories against the Trump Administration. Eleven of those cases are finished and cannot be appealed. The Trump Administration has or may appeal the other nine, which include lawsuits involving Dreamers and 3D-printed guns. After more than two years of litigation, no court to rule on the merits of the Attorney General’s arguments in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration has ruled against the office.

-30-

The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Contacts:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

April 23, 2019 Posted by | environment, Legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Lawsuit against Santee Cooper, claims that investors were deceived over nuclear project risks

Lawsuit: Santee Cooper misled investors about failed SC nuclear project, Post and Courier,   By John McDermott jmcdermott@postandcourier.comm Apr 17, 2019  

A Santee Cooper investor is suing the state-owned power company and its former chief executive, alleging they violated securities laws by not adequately disclosing the financial risks associated with the V.C. Summer nuclear project while selling debt several years ago.

Murray C. Turka is seeking class-action status to include others who purchased as much as $118 million of the utility’s “Mini-Bonds” from 2014 to 2016.

Lonnie Carter, who was Santee Cooper’s CEO at the time, is named a co-defendant in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston this week.

The lawsuit alleges Carter and other key decision-makers knew by mid-2015 that the expansion of the V.C. Summer power plant “was hopelessly behind schedule” based on a largely unfavorable assessment of the troubled project by the engineering firm Bechtel Corp.

Auditors found that the reactors’ designs were sometimes impossible to build, that construction wouldn’t be finished in time to qualify for critical federal tax breaks and that South Carolina’s utilities were either too “inexperienced or reluctant to act” as problems mounted.

“Still, executives disclosed nothing of this to Mini-Bond investors,” according to the complaint…….. https://www.postandcourier.com/business/lawsuit-santee-cooper-misled-investors-about-failed-sc-nuclear-project/article_2dc4cd10-612a-11e9-a41c-8f4e572cf265.html

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to nuclear subsidy

Supreme court denies challenge to NY nuclear subsidy, Houston Chronicle, April 15, 2019 WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a power industry trade group’s petition to challenge New York state’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the subsidization of nuclear power plants.

The Electric Power Supply Association claimed in a lawsuit that the New York Public Service Commission had violated federal law requiring power rates be “just and reasonable” when they elected to award $7 billion in rate increases through their zero emissions credit program.

After that argument was rejected by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the group applied to the Supreme Court for relief in January. As is customary, the Supreme Court’s justices offered no explanation on their decision not to hear the case. …….https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Supreme-court-denies-challenge-to-NY-nuclear-13768307.php

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

World Trade Organization approves South Korea’s right to ban Fukushima seafoods

SOUTH KOREA WTO APPEAL SUCCEEDS IN JAPANESE FUKUSHIMA FOOD DISPUTE, https://www.agriculture.com/markets/newswire/update-2-south-korea-wto-appeal-succeeds-in-japanese-fukushima-food-dispute GENEVA, April 11 (Reuters) – South Korea won the bulk of its appeal on Thursday in a dispute at the World Trade Organization over import bans and testing requirements it had imposed on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Last year a WTO dispute panel supported Japan, saying South Korea was wrong to keep its initial trade restrictions in place. But Thursday’s ruling overturned several key points of that verdict, saying South Korea’s measures were not overly restrictive and did not unfairly discriminate against Japan.

The appeal looked solely at the panel’s interpretation of the WTO rules, without going into the facts about the levels of contaminants in Japanese food products or what the right level of consumer protection should be.

“The South Korean government highly appreciates the WTO’s ruling and welcomes the decision,” South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement.

Following the ruling, South Korea’s current trade restrictions on Japanese seafood will stay in place, the ministry statement added.

South Korea widened its initial ban on Japanese fishery imports in 2013 to cover all seafood from eight Japanese prefectures including Fukushima.

Japan launched its trade complaint at the WTO in 2015, arguing that radioactive levels were safe and that a number of other nations, including the United States and Australia, had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.

South Korea imported 10.9 billion yen ($102 million) worth of Japanese seafood in the year to August 2013 before it broadened its restrictions. Those imports then fell to 8.4 billion yen the following year, according to the Japanese government. (Reporting by Tom Miles; additional reporting by Jane Chung in SEOUL; Editing by Keith Weir and Hugh Lawson)

April 13, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Mesothelioma Compensation Center to the rescue of nuclear workers affected by mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Compensation Center Now Offers to Make Certain That a Nuclear Power Worker with Mesothelioma or Asbestos Exposure Lung Cancer Gets Accelerated Compensation with The Help of Attorney Erik Karst and His Colleagues at Karst von Oiste,   Mesothelioma Compensation Center 

PR NewswireApr 10, 2019, NEW YORK The Mesothelioma Compensation Center is incredibly passionate about making certain that a person who was exposed to asbestos at any type of nuclear power plant and now has mesothelioma or asbestos exposure lung cancer receives the very best possible financial compensation. The group recommends the law firm of Karst von Oiste to assist people like this because they so much experience with power plants and asbestos exposure that would have occurred at these types of facilities as they would like to discuss at 800-714-0303.  www.karstvonoiste.com

Rather than offering a free book about mesothelioma or asbestos exposure lung cancer the Mesothelioma Compensation Center offers direct access to attorney Erik Karst the founding partner of the law firm Karst von Oiste. The law firm of Karst von Oiste is one of the nation’s leading legal experts on mesothelioma or asbestos exposure lung cancer.

If the family of a nuclear power worker or a Navy Veteran who was exposed to asbestos on a nuclear submarine or aircraft carrier is concerned about compensation, they are urged to call the Mesothelioma Compensation Center anytime at 800-714-0303 for direct access to attorney Erik Karst for answers to questions about compensation and or how the compensation process works. http://MesotheliomaCompensationCenter.Com……

Rather than offering a free book about mesothelioma or asbestos exposure lung cancer the Mesothelioma Compensation Center offers direct access to attorney Erik Karst the founding partner of the law firm Karst von Oiste. The law firm of Karst von Oiste is one of the nation’s leading legal experts on mesothelioma or asbestos exposure lung cancer.

If the family of a nuclear power worker or a Navy Veteran who was exposed to asbestos on a nuclear submarine or aircraft carrier is concerned about compensation, they are urged to call the Mesothelioma Compensation Center anytime at 800-714-0303 for direct access to attorney Erik Karst for answers to questions about compensation and or how the compensation process works. http://MesotheliomaCompensationCenter.Com    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mesothelioma-compensation-center-now-offers-to-make-certain-that-a-nuclear-power-worker-with-mesothelioma-or-asbestos-exposure-lung-cancer-gets-accelerated-compensation-with-th

April 11, 2019 Posted by | health, legal, USA | Leave a comment

General Electric avoids class action from Japanese homeowners and businesses affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

SCANA ends internal investigation into failed nuclear reactor project

SCANA ends internal investigation

https://www.counton2.com/news/south-carolina-news/scana-ends-internal-investigation-into-f

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

USA Nuclear Workers Compensation deliberately dragging out process?

Lawsuit filed on behalf of nuclear workers   https://www.abqjournal.com/1299172/lawsuit-filed-on-behalf-of-nuclear-workers.html, BY SCOTT TURNER / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER April 2nd, 2019   ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — James Jaramillo and Harold Archuleta are used to having to navigate through government bureaucracy to receive compensation for illnesses they said were caused by radiation exposure during their days as employees at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Both men had to wait years after filing claims for compensation through the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.

Jaramillo, 65, worked at Sandia for 24 years. He found out he had cancer of the small intestine in 1998. He filed for compensation in 2003 but was originally denied. Through changes in the program, he was finally awarded compensation in 2012 for medical care and lost wages since he was forced to retire.

Archuleta, 80, worked 38 years, 35 full time, at Los Alamos, where, he said, he ended up with skin cancer after years of exposure to plutonium. He’s also received compensation, but his wife, Angie, said it wasn’t an easy process.

“Congress put forth this act to help them, but then when it comes to actually paying, they put up all of these barriers,” Angie Archuleta said. “It’s just been very frustrating.”

According to a release by the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, changes are being made next week to update some of the regulations, with the goal of increasing efficiency and transparency and reducing administrative costs. The rules would align the regulations regarding processing and paying medical bills with the current system Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs uses to pay medical bills, and set out a new process that the office will use for authorizing in-home health care that will enable the office to better provide its beneficiaries with appropriate care, according to the release.

However, a company that provides health care to workers such as Jaramillo and Archuleta says rule changes involving the program could make it harder for nuclear workers to receive compensation and could delay the medical treatment they need.

The company, Professional Case Management, has filed suit in the District Court of Colorado against the Labor Department to keep the changes to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program from taking effect. Professional Case Management Vice President Tim Lerew said the new changes could cause delays of 60 days or more in treatment.

“It’s hard to know how long those delays will be,” Lerew said at a town hall meeting in Albuquerque last week. “We estimate it will be about an additional 60 days. For some people, coming out of the hospital with particular illnesses where doctors want them to have additional care … they don’t have that time to wait.”

Lerew said the new rule changes will also add 36 steps to the process between the patient, the doctor and the Labor Department to get pre-authorization for treatment and services, such as home health care.

“If they have you jump through 36 more hoops, how is a guy supposed to do that?” Jaramillo asked.

The rule changes would require patients to fill out most of the paperwork. In the past, health care providers would fill out the majority of it, Lerew and Jaramillo said.

“If you don’t dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t,’ they deny you,” said Jaramillo’s wife, Terry.

“Nurses take all your vitals and with the doctor come up with your plan, and send to the Department of Labor for approval,” James Jaramillo said. “Now, they want the patients to fill out a lot of the paperwork and submit it themselves, and not let medical people get involved with that.”

Lerew said he wondered how a cancer-stricken person in his or her 80s “is successfully going to  navigate that process.”

April 4, 2019 Posted by | employment, health, legal, USA | Leave a comment

New legal action compensation claim by 25 Fukushim evacuees

ACROnique of Fukushima 26th March 2019 25 people from Fukushima, who resettled in Ehime Province on Shikoku
Island, took legal action for better compensation. They claimed a total of
137.5 million yen (1.1 million euros) with the main argument that this
disaster could have been avoided if preventive measures had been taken to
protect the plant following the re-assessment of the earthquake risks. and
tsunami in 2006.

They believe that the compensation received is
insufficient in view of the harm suffered which has separated families and
cut ties with the community. They claimed 5.5 million yen (€ 44,000) per
person to cover stress, loss of property and relocation.

https://fukushima.eu.org/tepco-et-letat-japonais-condamnes-a-indemniser-des-personnes-deplacees/

April 4, 2019 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Hanford contractor responsible for radiation spread avoids penalty

Hanford contractor avoids fine for radioactive particles   https://www.nbcrightnow.com/hanford/hanford-contractor-avoids-fine-for-radioactive-particles/article_83ebdc71-a595-57c3-ba4e-64ad9c739c23.html  Apr 2, 2019 

HANFORD, WA (AP) — A Hanford contractor is expected to avoid federal penalties for the airborne spread of radioactive particles.

The U.S. Department of Energy does not intend to fine CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company in Hanford for five violations connected to contamination.

The agency says it will not fine CH2M because its possible incentive pay was already docked by $1 million in fiscal 2017 and $1.8 million in fiscal 2018.

The agency says radioactive contamination was found at the site in December 2017 near administrative buildings, on employee and government cars, and in trailers where workers ate.   Officials say tests found 42 workers inhaled or ingested small amounts of radioactive material and that contamination continued into 2018.

April 4, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

The very dangerous history of making plutonium weapons triggers – “pits” at Rocky Flats

Dangerous history of pit production  https://www.aikenstandard.com/opinion/guest-column-dangerous-history-of-pit-production/article_a22aa6b8-4ab2-11e9-83dc-7b695e05d8a7.html Dr. Rose O. Hayes

Recent comments on the proposed pit production at Savannah River Site warrant a cautionary comment. All is not wonderful news where pit production is concerned. It has a very dirty past. Awareness of that past is paramount to the protection of CSRA public health and safety.

The primary U.S. plant to smelt plutonium, purify it and shape it into “triggers” (pits) for nuclear bombs was Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Site. From 1952 to 1989, Rocky Flats manufactured more than 70,000 pits at a cost of nearly $4 million apiece. Each one contained enough breathable plutonium particles to kill every person on earth. Virtually all of the waste produced there remains on-site. As we have learned through the SRS waste storage struggles, there is no place for it to go and no government plan to develop a repository. What’s made at a nuclear processing plant, stays at the nuclear processing plant.

Much went wrong at Rocky Flats due to mismanagement, criminal government indifference and public complacency. It took more than 30 years for the public to become so concerned with the pollution hazards issuing from the plant before the Department of Energy (DOE) was forced to hold a public meeting in 1988 to address the problems. One example: The plant produced one boxcar a week packed with 140 drums of radioactive waste. They were parked on site. Moisture penetration of a drum could have triggered an explosion. Ground water, soil and air pollution were also major hazards. A subsequent DOE study indicated that Rocky Flats was the most dangerous site in the country.

On June 6, 1989 more than 70 FBI and EPA agents raided the plant to begin an official investigation of the contractor and DOE for environmental crimes. The plant manager acknowledged that problems were solved “when DOE wanted to pay for them.” The final FBI/EPA allegations included concealment of environmental contamination, false certification of federal environmental reports, improper storage and disposal of hazardous and radioactive waste, and illegal discharge of pollutants into creeks flowing to drinking water supplies. Another independent study found there was enough lost plutonium in the plant exhaust ducts to create the possibility of an accidental nuclear reaction. According to a later DOE report, about 62 pounds of plutonium was lost in the plant air ducts; enough for seven nuclear bombs.

A grand jury was convened to hear the case on Aug. 1, 1989. The contractor argued in court that it could not fulfill its DOE contract without also violating environmental laws. In order to remediate the damage, on Sept. 28, 1989, EPA added Rocky Flats to its Superfund cleanup list. The grand jury worked until May 1991, then voted to indict the plant contractor, five employees and three individuals working for DOE.

The Department of Justice refused to sign the indictments despite more than 400 environmental violations that occurred during the decades of pit production at the plant. All charges were dropped. A settlement guaranteed the contractor and all indicted individuals immunity. Although the contractor pleaded guilty to criminal violations of the federal hazardous waste law and the Clean Water Act, the fine was only $18.5 million, less than the corporation had collected in bonuses for meeting production quotas that year. The contractor’s annual fee to run the site was estimated at $10 million, with an additional $8.7 million paid from DOE for management and safety excellence.

The contractor was also allowed to sue for reimbursement of $7.9 million from taxpayers for fees and costs related to its case. In addition, the contractor’s plea agreement indemnified it from further claims and all future prosecution, criminal or civil. The trial records are permanently sealed. Further, the contractor argued that everything it did at Rocky Flats was at the behest of DOE and maintained the right to receive future government contracts.

Grand jury members asked to write their own report but the judge refused to read it or release it to the public. Not surprisingly, the report was leaked to the press and printed in a Denver newspaper and Harper’s magazine. In January 1993, a Congressional committee finally issued a report revealing evidence of high-level intervention by Justice Department officials for the purpose of reducing the contractor’s fines.

DOE has estimated that it will take until 2065 to clean up Rocky Flats, at a cost to American taxpayers of more than $40 billion. One DOE official testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that some weapons plants, like Rocky Flats, may never be cleaned up because we lack the technology to do so at a reasonable cost. Another investigator, testifying before the U.S. Senate’s Governmental Affairs Committee, stated he did not believe it possible to reverse the harm done at Rocky Flats.

Could this history repeat itself at SRS? Without a comprehensive cradle to grave plan with built-in irrevocable government funding and independent oversight, including citizen stakeholder input, SRS could become the next Rocky Flats. How likely is the government to attach such planning and funding to an SRS pit processing campaign? Past experience at SRS includes years of having to do best guess planning under continuing resolution funding and government failures to pass a budget, decades of “temporarily” storing deadly radioactive waste due to the government’s failure to meet off-site disposition commitments, budget reductions, program cancellations (most recently, the MOX project), and more.

Plutonium pit production waste is not just radioactive. It is nuclear waste on steroids. If produced here, it will likely remain in our backyard, along with all the decades old waste at SRS. There is no place for it to go. Looming large as examples of the dangers and difficulties SRS will face in having pit production waste moved off-site are the explosion and prolonged closure at the New Mexico Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (the government’s only operating repository) and the abandonment of the Yucca Mountain project.

Is it the CSRA’s responsibility to take on this mission? Pit production, while bringing jobs to the Aiken/Augusts area, will add to the decades old SRS hazards waiting for DOE remediation. SRS is already part of the DOE nuclear complex cleanup program. That mission, 30 some years old, drags on under the burden of DOE mismanagement and variable federal funding. Estimates are it will take another 70 years to clean up the DOE nuclear complex and cost about $500 billion more. Celebration of plans to add U.S. pit production to SRS is a rush to judgement. Only the usual corporations, living large off gigantic federal awards, stand to benefit.

Dr. Rose O. Hayes is a medical anthropologist who spent her career in public health. She holds a B.S., M.S., M.A., and Ph.D. from SUNY and completed post-doctoral work in skeletal biology at The George Washington University. From 2009 to 2015, she served on the U.S. Department of Energy Site-Specific Advisory Board for the Savannah River plant, chairing its Nuclear Materials Committee. 

April 1, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, history, legal, Reference, safety, USA | Leave a comment