nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Judge rules that Exxon Mobil Corp must hand over climate documents to Massachusetts

judge-1Massachusetts judge requires Exxon to hand over climate documents, Reuters 11 Jan 17  A Massachusetts judge has refused to excuse Exxon Mobil Corp from a request by the state’s attorney general to hand over decades worth of documents on its views on climate change, state officials said on Wednesday.

The decision by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger denying Exxon’s request for an order exempting it from handing over the documents represents a legal victory for Attorney General Maura Healey, who is investigating the world’s largest publicly traded oil company’s climate policies.

“This order affirms our longstanding authority to investigate fraud,” Healey said on Twitter following the decision, adding that Exxon “must come clean about what it knew about climate change.”……

The investigations follow separate reports by online news publication Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times showing that Exxon worked to play down the risks of climate change despite its own scientists’ having raised concerns about it decades earlier.

The news came on the day former Exxon Chief Executive Rex Tillerson faced a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state…….http://www.reuters.com/article/us-exxon-mobil-massachusetts-idUSKBN14W04Z

January 13, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

New York nuclear subsidies an ‘existential threat’ to wholesale markets -Electric Power Supply Association

legal actionGenerators call New York nuclear subsidies an ‘existential threat’ to wholesale markets, Utility Dive   12 Jan 17 

Dive Brief:

Dive Insight:

The fight over New York’s zero emission credit (ZEC) program, which aims to save three struggling nuclear plants in the upstate region, has come under increasing fire from generators who say it distorts wholesale markets and is a scheme courts have already struck down……..http://www.utilitydive.com/news/generators-call-new-york-nuclear-subsidies-an-existential-threat-to-whole/433894/

January 13, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson ordered to pay punitive costs in nuclear case

joemat-pettersson-tinaSouth Africa: Court Orders Punitive Costs Against Minister in Nuclear Case http://allafrica.com/stories/201612150392.html By Ashleigh Furlong, 14 Dec 16   Minutes before hearing, ministry reveals new determination on nuclear energy

The Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson has been ordered by the Western Cape High Court to pay punitive costs including the costs of four counsel for Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) after the state brought forward new evidence minutes before the case was set to begin.

A court orders punitive costs usually when it is dissatisfied with the conduct of a litigant. This is rare and is considered a strong rebuke.

The respondents in the case are the Minister of Energy, the president, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) as well as two representatives from Parliament.

Yesterday, the case began with a postponement until February 2017, as it was revealed mere minutes before the hearing was to begin that the Minister had made a new nuclear energy determination – replacing a decision that was gazetted last December.

Part of the relief sought by Earthlife and SAFCEI was for the old decision to be declared invalid. They also want the court to declare invalid the agreement between South Africa and Russia, as well as the tabling in Parliament of the deals with the USA and Korea.

  The new decision now states that Eskom, not the Department of Energy – as was the case in the old determination – will be the procurement agency for 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy.

“Despite it being signed on 5 December 2016, the Court was not informed thereof and neither were the applicants – until literally minutes before the hearing was to begin. The Court stressed in its judgment that there was no evidence presented to the court explaining how this determination came about, when it was decided upon and the processes leading thereto, despite the Determination apparently having been made more than a week before the hearing,” says a statement issued by Earthlife and SAFCEI.

The South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) has also expressed concern over the new determination, saying that it was “seemingly rushed through” on the basis of “the very outdated Integrated Resource Plan published in 2010”.

“We are further disheartened by Eskom’s Acting CEO’s simultaneous announcement that the utility will release a nuclear Request for Proposals as soon as the determination is gazetted,” says Brenda Martin, Chair of SAREC in the statement.

“SAREC believes that this irrational behaviour fans the flames of suspicion as to the real motives behind the nuclear campaign. Facts, logic and basic financial prudence simply do not support this determination,” says the statement.

Earthlife and SAFCEI wanted the request for proposals to be halted until the court case was finalised. However, the court ruled that Eskom was allowed to go ahead with the process.

December 17, 2016 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

Earthlife Africa takes legal action to stop South Africa’s nuclear power plan

legal actionEarthlife Africa goes to court to halt SA’s bid for nuclear power http://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2016/12/13/earthlife-africa-goes-court-halt-sas-bid-nuclear-power/
In a David versus Goliath battle which could determine the country’s energy future‚ an NGO will be in the Cape Town High Court on Tuesday to try halt government’s nuclear procurement deal.

In an affidavit submitted to the court‚ Earthlife Africa argues that government’s agreement with Russia to supply South Africa with multiple nuclear power plants is both unlawful and unconstitutional.

The procurement deal would be the largest in the country’s history at an estimated R1-trillion‚ and would see the building of a “nuclear fleet” that would generate nearly 10GW of power.

In September 2014‚ Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed an agreement with Russia on strategic partnership and cooperation in the fields of nuclear power and industry‚ which was then authorised by President Jacob Zuma.

The agreement was tabled before Parliament in June 2015.

In the affidavit‚ Earthlife branch coordinator Phillipine Lekalakala stated that the deal was unlawful‚ and should be reviewed and set aside. “The decision to proceed with procuring these nuclear power plants… has occurred without any of the necessary statutory and constitutional decisions having been lawfully taken‚” said Lekalakala.

“The minister and the National Energy Regulator of SA were obligated to have determined that new generation capacity is required and that the electricity must be generated from nuclear power in terms of the Energy Regulations Act (ERA).”

“No ERA requirement decision or ERA nuclear procurement system decision has been taken.”

The state opposed the application saying that the nuclear programme was a policy direction adopted by government to establish a self-sufficient nuclear industry for the industrialisation and development of the country.

The deputy director-general of the Department of Energy‚ Zizamele Mbambo‚ said that‚ as part of the nuclear programme‚ the energy and electricity needs of the country would be provided for.

“This policy direction allows the country to discharge its international obligation to reduce CO2 emissions from our historical fleet of coal-driven power stations‚” Mbambo said.

Earthlife and co-applicants in the matter‚ Southern African Faith Ministries’ Environment Institute‚ will be holding a demonstration outside the court on Tuesday. – TMG Digital/The Times

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

Suspected falsifying of documents: French prosecutors investigate Areva’s Le Creusot nuclear foundry

corruptionAREVA crumblingFrench court probes forged documents case at Areva nuclear foundry http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-nuclear-areva-court-idUSKBN13X20C, 8 Dec 16  The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the suspected falsifying of documents at Areva’s Le Creusot foundry that manufactures parts for nuclear reactors, a judicial source said on Thursday.

The case, which alleges forgery, use of forged documents, endangerment of lives and aggravated deception, will be put in the hands of the police, the source said. French nuclear safety regulator ASN said in October that it had asked the courts to step in to investigate after nuclear group Areva sounded the alarm in May over documentation irregularities involving 6,000 nuclear component manufacturing files.

Thousands of such documents used in the French nuclear sector dating back to 1965 are being looked at

“We have not been informed (of the investigation) at this point,” a spokeswoman for Areva told Reuters, adding that the group would cooperate with the investigation and hand over all information at its disposal.

The discovery of weak spots in the reactor vessel of the EPR reactor under construction in Flamanville in 2014 led Areva to review manufacturing procedures at its Creusot steel forging plant.

ASN said in September that Areva had identified 87 irregularities related to reactors operated by state utility EDF, 20 concerning equipment for the Flamanville reactor, and one related to a steam generator for EDF’s 900 MW Gravelines 5 reactor on halt since April.

 Gravelines 5’s restart has been pushed back to June 2017 after an executive told parliament in October that something suspicious had been discovered.   (Reporting by Benjamin Mallet, Chine Labbé and Bate Felix; editing by Richard Balmforth/Mark Heinrich)

December 9, 2016 Posted by | France, Legal | Leave a comment

German legal case sets precedent for limiting the greed of nuclear and coal companies

 justiceflag_germanyLimiting the greed of the nuclear industry http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-limiting-the-greed-of-the-nuclear-industry/a-36664176 The German Constitutional Court’s decision that an accelerated nuclear phase-out is legal, and limiting compensation for energy companies is good news, says DW’s Gero Reuter. This could even set a precedent for coal.

“Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good,” states article 14 of the German constitution. At the same time, the German constitution demands that expropriation is permissible for the public good, and will be compensated after balancing the interests of everyone affected.

That’s the most crucial background to Germany’s biggest power companies – Eon, RWE and Swedish state-owned company Vattenfall – having filed lawsuits against the German government. They asked for compensation for the government’s decision in 2011 to hurry through shutdown of nuclear reactors in the wake of the 2011 nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima reactor.

According to the energy companies, the nuclear phase-out is an unconstitutional expropriation of their power plants and possible energy production. They had asked for compensation of around 19 billion euros ($20 billion), which was supposed to be shelled out by taxpayers – around 230 euros from each citizen, babies to pensioners.

This week, Germany’s Constitutional Court mostly rejected their claims, saying the law for a nuclear phase-out from 2011 “is mostly compatible with Germany’s constitution.”

Only long-term investments that the power companies made between December 2010 and March 2011 are eligible for compensation, the court ruled, as the German government agreed to a maximum lifetime extension of nuclear power plants for 12 years in 2010.

What’s more, Germany’s Constitutional Court said some of the power companies received unequal treatment, and thus ruled that the German government has to adjust the law accordingly by June 2018.

Good news for taxpayers and the environment

The ruling is good news for taxpayers and the environment, as it will limit the greed of power companies to tap even more subsidies at the expense of public health, the environment and government budgets.

As to the requested compensation costs of around 19 billion euros – fortunately there’s not much left to this argument. It’s possible that the German government won’t have to pay anything to the energy companies at all. If worse comes to worse, it may pay a billion euros. This all depends on how the state will define unequal treatment of the different energy companies over the months to come.

What’s even more positive and groundbreaking is the legal reasoning behind the ruling. Germany’s Constitutional Court stressed several times that it attaches great importance to the protection of life, health and natural resources, and to the minimization of risks through the use of nuclear energy. It also said this could lead to an even faster nuclear phase-out, and that the German government could change its laws after the fact.

Thinking into the future, this decision could set a precedent for legal support to Germany being on the necessary path to withdraw from coal-powered electricity, and to shorten the long-term operating licenses power companies retain for mining lignite (brown coal).

The energy companies should carefully study this decision, and read between the lines to see how the German constitution truly works. “Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good.”

And if companies don’t use their property for the public good, then the state can expropriate this under certain circumstances. Obviously, the state then has to pay an appropriate compensation fee after balancing the interests of everyone involved – that’s fair.

But it should pay only what’s fair and not a cent more – especially not for big, powerful energy companies.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

German court ruling means only limited scope for utilities to claim compensation

legal costsflag_germanyE.ON sees limited scope for nuclear claims after ruling -Bernstein, Reuters, Dec 8 E.ON sees limited scope for compensation claims following a court ruling related to Germany’s nuclear exit that paves the way for utilities to try to reclaim money, its chief executive told brokerage Bernstein in an interview.

Germany’s highest court on Tuesday ruled that hastening the shutdown of nuclear plants after Japan’s Fukushima disaster violated some of the property rights of utility companies, allowing them to seek limited damages.

It said that utilities could claim back stranded investments made between December 2010 and March 2011 when the government decided to extend the life of nuclear plants. In 2011, the government’s position changed and it decided to shut down all stations by 2022.

E.ON said earlier this week it had invested several hundred million euros in 2010 in the expectation that the government’s nuclear policy would remain unchanged.

“Of this, a low triple digit million amount was likely incurred in the four month period between December 2010 and March 2011, which should be eligible for compensation,” Bernstein quoted CEO Johannes Teyssen as saying.

Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks said this week the court ruling meant demands by utilities for billions of euros in compensation was off the table……http://www.reuters.com/article/germany-nuclear-e-on-idUSL5N1E31FC

December 9, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Germany, Legal, politics | Leave a comment

Landmark case on climate change looming for USA government

Trump could face the ‘biggest trial of the century’ — over climate change, WP  December 1 A few weeks ago, a federal judge in Oregon made headlines when she ruled that a groundbreaking climate lawsuit will proceed to trial. And some experts say its outcome could rewrite the future of climate policy in the United States.

The case, brought by 21 youths aged 9 to 20, claims that the federal government isn’t doing enough to address the problem of climate change to protect their planet’s future — and that, they charge, is a violation of their constitutional rights on the most basic level. The case has already received widespread attention, even garnering the support of well-known climate scientist James Hansen, who has also joined as a plaintiff on behalf of his granddaughter and as a guardian for “future generations.”

The U.S. government under President Obama, along with several others representing members of the fossil fuel industry, filed to have the lawsuit dismissed. But on Nov. 10, federal judge Ann Aiken denied the motion, clearing the case to proceed to trial. According to Our Children’s Trust, the nonprofit representing the youth plaintiffs, a recent case management conference indicated that the case would likely go to trial by summer or early fall of 2017.

“It’s been called the biggest trial of the century, and it is,” said Mary Wood, a law professor at the University of Oregon and expert in natural resources and public trust law. “Literally, when I say the planet is on the docket, it would be hard to imagine a more consequential trial, because the fossil fuel policies of the entire United States of America are going to confront the climate science put forth by the world’s best scientists. And never before has that happened.”

The odds of success  

Theoretically, the trial’s outcome could have major implications for the incoming Trump administration, which aims to dismantle many of the climate and energy priorities established under President Obama.

Should the plaintiffs prevail, the federal government could be forced to develop and adhere to stringent carbon-cutting measures aimed at preserving the planet’s climate future for generations to come. The only other place such action has ever been ordered by a court is in the Netherlands, where a similar case resulted in a landmark ruling last year requiring the Dutch government to slash its emissions by a quarter within five years…….. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/01/trump-could-face-the-biggest-trial-of-the-century-over-climate-change/?utm_term=.d1aa009e5e04

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

German nuclear compensation court case a precedent for limiting the greed of the nuclear industry

legal action Limiting the greed of the nuclear industry http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-limiting-the-greed-of-the-nuclear-industry/a-36664176 The German Constitutional Court’s decision that an accelerated nuclear phase-out is legal, and limiting compensation for energy companies is good news, says DW’s Gero Reuter. This could even set a precedent for coal.

“Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good,” states article 14 of the German constitution. At the same time, the German constitution demands that expropriation is permissible for the public good, and will be compensated after balancing the interests of everyone affected.

That’s the most crucial background to Germany’s biggest power companies – Eon, RWE and Swedish state-owned company Vattenfall – having filed lawsuits against the German government. They asked for compensation for the government’s decision in 2011 to hurry through shutdown of nuclear reactors in the wake of the 2011 nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima reactor.

According to the energy companies, the nuclear phase-out is an unconstitutional expropriation of their power plants and possible energy production. They had asked for compensation of around 19 billion euros ($20 billion), which was supposed to be shelled out by taxpayers – around 230 euros from each citizen, babies to pensioners.

This week, Germany’s Constitutional Court mostly rejected their claims, saying the law for a nuclear phase-out from 2011 “is mostly compatible with Germany’s constitution.”

Only long-term investments that the power companies made between December 2010 and March 2011 are eligible for compensation, the court ruled, as the German government agreed to a maximum lifetime extension of nuclear power plants for 12 years in 2010.

What’s more, Germany’s Constitutional Court said some of the power companies received unequal treatment, and thus ruled that the German government has to adjust the law accordingly by June 2018.

Good news for taxpayers and the environment

The ruling is good news for taxpayers and the environment, as it will limit the greed of power companies to tap even more subsidies at the expense of public health, the environment and government budgets.

As to the requested compensation costs of around 19 billion euros – fortunately there’s not much left to this argument. It’s possible that the German government won’t have to pay anything to the energy companies at all. If worse comes to worse, it may pay a billion euros. This all depends on how the state will define unequal treatment of the different energy companies over the months to come.

What’s even more positive and groundbreaking is the legal reasoning behind the ruling. Germany’s Constitutional Court stressed several times that it attaches great importance to the protection of life, health and natural resources, and to the minimization of risks through the use of nuclear energy. It also said this could lead to an even faster nuclear phase-out, and that the German government could change its laws after the fact.

Thinking into the future, this decision could set a precedent for legal support to Germany being on the necessary path to withdraw from coal-powered electricity, and to shorten the long-term operating licenses power companies retain for mining lignite (brown coal).

The energy companies should carefully study this decision, and read between the lines to see how the German constitution truly works. “Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good.”

And if companies don’t use their property for the public good, then the state can expropriate this under certain circumstances. Obviously, the state then has to pay an appropriate compensation fee after balancing the interests of everyone involved – that’s fair.

But it should pay only what’s fair and not a cent more – especially not for big, powerful energy companies.

December 7, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal, Reference | Leave a comment

German court orders compensation for nuclear operators following nation’s exit from nuclear power

justiceGerman nuclear operators to get compensation for nuclear exit: court http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/london/german-nuclear-operators-to-get-compensation-26613982 London (Platts)–6 Dec 2016

* German supreme court says some rights violated by nuclear exit

* But confirms general constitutionality of exit law
* Government needs to set compensation framework by June 2018

Germany’s supreme court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) on Tuesday confirmed that the nuclear exit law from July 2011, although generally conforming with the German constitution, in part violates the property rights of nuclear operators.

Nuclear operators E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall brought the lawsuit after the government decided in 2011 to reverse its planned extension of nuclear runtimes in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, replacing remaining production quotas with a set deadline for the closure of reactors and a complete phase out of nuclear power by the end of 2022.

The court in Karlsruhe declared that the government needs to put in place “appropriate” compensation for investment based on the initial plan to extend runtimes by around 12 years after the 2009 elections.

The new compensation rules need to be in place by June 30, 2018, the court said in a statement

It did not give any guidance on the compensation sum.

According to a report by German news agency dpa, the operators so far have not quantified their compensation demands, speaking only of “massive economic damage” with dpa quoting estimates of around Eur19 billion.

In October, the government cleared the way for a financial solution to the nuclear storage issues with new rules under which the nuclear operators will pay a combined Eur23.5 billion into a state-run fund for the financing of mid- and long-term nuclear storage in Germany.

In return, the nuclear operators will be released from liability for interim and final storage of nuclear waste, but remain solely responsible for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants as well as the transport of the nuclear waste to the storage repository.

–Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com
–Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com

December 7, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal, Reference | Leave a comment

Clearwater takes legal action agasinst New York over subsidy to nuclear power stations

taxpayer bailoutClearwater sues NY over nuclear bailout, Ploughkeepsie Journal , Albany Bureau1 December 1, 2016 ALBANY – A multi-billion-dollar, ratepayer-backed bailout for three upstate nuclear power plants is facing another challenge in the courts.

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

Legal ruling to come, on Germany’s nuclear exit

legal actionflag_germanyPreview: Legal or not? German utilities await landmark nuclear exit ruling http://in.reuters.com/article/germany-utilities-nuclear-idINKBN13Q4QD By Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff | FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF, 1 Dec 16, 

Germany’s highest court will rule next week on whether the country’s decision to exit nuclear power was legal, helping to determine whether or not three power firms can pursue damage claims of up to 19 billion euros ($20.16 billion).
German utilities are still reeling from the decision made in 2011 after Japan’s Fukushima disaster to shut down all nuclear power plants by 2022. E.ON, RWE and Vattenfall have sued the government over what they say amounts to expropriation.

The three claim the accelerated shutdown robbed them of 1,800 terawatt hours of future production, enough to power Europe’s biggest economy for about three years.The German government has rejected the claims, arguing its decision was in line with constitutional law.

The Constitutional Court will give its verdict on Tuesday, Dec. 6, in the city of Karlsruhe.

“Even if the verdict is partly in favour of utilities, there will be a separate lengthy process for determining the compensation. So it’s not really a bankable outcome,” said Deepa Venkateswaran, senior analyst at Bernstein.

In a two-day hearing in March, the court challenged the expropriation claims brought by power firms, arguing that Germany merely accelerated the shutdown of nuclear plants that was initially agreed on in 2002.

The ruling requires a majority of the eight-judge panel. If the judges are split evenly, the complaints will automatically be rejected.

Legal experts expect the court will throw out the complaint by Sweden’s Vattenfall because it is a state-owned entity, preventing it from lodging a complaint based on Germany’s constitution.

German utility EnBW, which is almost entirely owned by the public, has not lodged a complaint for that reason. According to Peter Rosin, partner and energy specialist at law firm White & Case, the court would not necessarily have to approve the utilities’ expropriation complaint to pave the way for damage claims.

It could also rule that Germany’s decision did not amount to expropriation but merely defined the scope and limitation of property in such a significant way that it required compensation, he said

The court could also throw out all complaints.

“Therefore, there is a range of possibilities regarding the court’s decision and the respective legal consequences. The outcome is open,” Rosin said.

($1 = 0.9427 euros)

(Additional reporting by Ursula Knapp in Karlsruhe)

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment

UK fails in appeal to UN to reverse its ruling in favour of Julian Assange

flag-UN-SmjusticeUN rejects UK appeal on Assange, Justice for Assange On 30 November 2016, the United Nations rejected the United Kingdom’s attempt to appeal the UN’s February ruling in favour of Julian Assange.

The decision therefore stands and the UK and Sweden are once again required to immediately put an end to Mr. Assange’s arbitrary detention and afford him monetary compensation.

Earlier this year the United Nations concluded the 16 month long case to which the UK was a party. The UK lost, appealed, and today – lost again. The UN instructed the UK and Sweden to take immediate steps to ensure Mr. Assange’s liberty, protection, and enjoyment of fundamental human rights. No steps have been taken, jeopardising Mr. Assange’s life, health and physical integrity, and undermining the UN system of human rights protection.

Now, the United Nations has found that the United Kingdom’s request for review of this decision (filed on March 24) was inadmissible; the United Kingdom has now reached the end of the road in its attempt to overturn the ruling. As a member of the Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Kingdom must respect its commitment to the United Nations, and release Mr. Assange immediately. Now, more than ever, moral leadership is required; maintaining Mr. Assange’s effective detention (which stands at six years as of 7 December, 2016) will only serve to green light future abuses against defenders of free speech and human rights.

Mr. Assange stated “Now that all appeals are exhausted I expect that the UK and Sweden will comply with their international obligations and set me free. It is an obvious and grotesque injustice to detain someone for six years who hasn’t even been charged with an offence.”….. https://justice4assange.com/?rejects

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

New York Court of Appeals approves right of the state to review Indian Point Nuclear plant’s relicensing

legal actionIn major win for NY Gov. Cuomo, high court rules state can review Indian Point Indian Point nuclear plant, which the government of New York would prefer to close. Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal Newsrelicensing  http://www.utilitydive.com/news/in-major-win-for-ny-gov-cuomo-high-court-rules-state-can-review-indian-po/431064/  

Dive Brief:

  • The New York Court of Appeals this week determined the state has the right to review Entergy Corp.’s request for a  Coastal Consistency Determination at its Indian Point nuclear plant, a major win for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)’s bid to shutter the plant, the Associated Press reports. 
  • The facility is located about 40 miles north of New York City, and Cuomo has said it is impossible to operate safely so closely to themost populous metropolitan area in the country.
  • Entergy has requested a 20-year license renewal from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and had argued the state did not have oversight over the process. Indian Point Units 2 and 3 have been operating since the mid-1970s.
 Dive Insight:

New York’s relationship with its nuclear plants is a strange thing: for three of them, it has allocated billions of dollars to keep running. The fourth, the state has tried for years to close down.

On Monday, Associated Press reports Cuomo’s quest to mothball Indian Point got a major win: The state’s highest court sided with the New York Department of State, allowing it to ensure the Indian Point continues to operate in compliance with the state’s coastal regulations.

Entergy had argued that the state’s concerns over its water permit were a cover for safety concerns, which it said fall to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In February, Cuomo ordered an investigation of the plant, over concerns it was leaking contaminated water, with monitoring wells showing a spike in radiation. A statement from Cuomo noted the state had already concluded Entergy’s relicensing application is inconsistent with the state’s Coastal Management Program.

“Indian Point is antiquated and does not belong on the Hudson River in close proximity to New York City, where it poses a threat not only to the coastal resources and uses of the river, but to millions of New Yorkers living and working in the surrounding community,” Cuomo said.

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear contractors settle with USA Justice Dept over allegations of improper billing.

legal costsUnited States Settles Lawsuit Against Energy Department Contractors for Knowingly Mischarging Costs on Contract at Nuclear Waste Treatment Plant https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/united-states-settles-lawsuit-against-energy-department-contractors-knowingly-mischarging, 24 Nov 16, 

The Justice Department announced today that Bechtel National Inc., Bechtel Corp., URS Corp. (predecessor in interest to AECOM Global II LLC) and URS Energy and Construction Inc. (now known as AECOM Energy and Construction Inc.) have agreed to pay $125 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that they made false statements and claims to the Department of Energy (DOE) by charging DOE for deficient nuclear quality materials, services, and testing that was provided at the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) at DOE’s Hanford Site near Richland, Washington.  The settlement also resolves allegations that Bechtel National Inc. and Bechtel Corp. improperly used federal contract funds to pay for a comprehensive, multi-year lobbying campaign of Congress and other federal officials for continued funding at the WTP.  Bechtel Corp. and Bechtel National Inc. are Nevada corporations.  URS Corp. is headquartered in California, and URS Energy & Construction Inc. is headquartered in Colorado.

“The money allocated by Congress for the Waste Treatment Plant is intended to fund the Department of Energy’s important mission to clean up the contaminated Hanford nuclear site, and this mission is undermined if funds are wasted on goods or services that are not nuclear compliant or to further lobbying activities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “This settlement demonstrates that the Justice Department will work to ensure that public funds are used for the important purposes for which they are intended.”

“The environmental clean-up and restoration of the land that comprises the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is one of the single most important projects in this region,” said U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby of the Eastern District of Washington. “It is imperative that funds allocated for this project be used appropriately and judiciously – the public expects nothing less.  This office and our DOJ and DOE counterparts take allegations of contractor abuse seriously and place a priority on investigating and pursuing enforcement when those allegations could impact the safety and security of our citizens.”

“The DOE Office of Inspector General is committed to ensuring the integrity of Departmental contracts and financial expenditures,” said Acting Inspector General Rickey R. Hass. “We will continue to steadfastly investigate allegations of fraudulent diversion of tax dollars throughout DOE programs and appreciate the support of DOJ attorneys in these matters.”

Between 2002 and the present, DOE has paid billions of dollars to the defendants to design and build the WTP, which will be used to treat dangerous radioactive wastes that are currently stored at DOE’s Hanford Site.  The contract required materials, testing and services to meet certain nuclear quality standards.  The United States alleged that the defendants violated the False Claims Act by charging the government the cost of complying with these standards when they failed to do so.  In particular, the United States alleged that the defendants improperly billed the government for materials and services from vendors that did not meet quality control requirements, for piping and waste vessels that did not meet quality standards and for testing from vendors who did not have compliant quality programs.  The United States also alleged that Bechtel National Inc. and Bechtel Corp. improperly claimed and received government funding for lobbying activities in violation of the Byrd Amendment, and applicable contractual and regulatory requirements, all of which prohibit the use of federal funds for lobbying activities.

The allegations resolved by this settlement were initially brought in a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by Gary Brunson, Donna Busche, and Walter Tamosaitis, who worked on the WTP project.  The False Claims Act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the United States when they believe that a party has submitted false claims for government funds, and to receive a share of any recovery.  The Act also permits the government to intervene in such a lawsuit, as it did in part in this case.  The whistleblowers’ reward has not yet been determined.

This matter was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, the DOE Office of the Inspector General and the FBI.

The claims asserted against defendants are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.  The case is United States ex rel. Brunson, Busche, and Tamosaitis v. Bechtel National, Inc., Bechtel Corp., URS Corp., and URS Energy & Construction, Inc., Case No. 2:13-cv-05013-EFS (E.D. Wash.).

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Legal, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment