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Lawyers kept busy with the chaos of South Carolina’s failed nuclear project

Lawyers are benefiting from chaos of South Carolina’s failed nuclear project, By Andrew Brown abrown@postandcourier.com Feb 18, 2018 

      COLUMBIA — As Westinghouse Electric’s bankruptcy dashed South Carolina’s nuclear ambitions, one group of people reaped the rewards: lawyers.

One attorney charged $280 to respond to a grand jury subpoena.

Another invoiced $407 to research the statute of limitations for criminal charges in South Carolina.

Others got paid more than $5,810 to review the “potential criminal liability” stemming from The Post and Courier’s story Stamped for Failure, which revealed how Westinghouse disregarded state engineering laws in their attempt to build a new generation of nuclear reactors.

These are just some of the legal expenses found in the bankruptcy records for Westinghouse, the company that designed and attempted to build the two unfinished nuclear reactors at V.C. Summer station.

The court records show Westinghouse paid more than $1 million last year for more than a dozen highly paid defense attorneys to monitor the legal disputes and political backlash that erupted in South Carolina after the nuclear project was dropped last summer.

The company’s legal bills open a small window into the ongoing cost of what is widely considered the biggest economic failure in South Carolina history. The invoices also highlight Westinghouse’s concerns over the possible criminal implications stemming from its decade of work on the nuclear reactors near Jenkinsville.

Westinghouse declined to answer questions about the ongoing legal expenses.

“It may just be they are trying to cover themselves,” said state Sen. Shane Massey, an Edgefield Republican who led a special committee that investigated V.C. Summer. “Or, as things progressed, they might have realized they are in trouble.”

“They probably should be in trouble,” Massey said. “Westinghouse is largely responsible for where we are right now.”……..https://www.postandcourier.com/business/lawyers-are-benefitting-from-chaos-of-south-carolina-s-failed/article_b30458dc-1294-11e8-a680-abe468b69719.html

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February 19, 2018 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power critics to testify in Vermont Yankee case

VT Digger, By Mike Faher, Feb 12 2018   State regulators will consider the testimony of two prominent nuclear power critics in deciding whether a cleanup company should be allowed to buy Vermont Yankee.

February 16, 2018 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Can the president be prosecuted for war crimes in the event of a nuclear strike?

 https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2018/02/12/can-president-prosecuted-war-crimes-event-nuclear-strike, Anthony J. Colangelo, 

Can U.S. nuclear strike planners and executors be prosecuted for war crimes? Short answer, yes. And the planners are more vulnerable to prosecution than world leaders, such as President Donald Trump.

A preliminary question, of course, is what would constitute an illegal nuclear strike order. It is fairly clear that any use of nuclear weapons to achieve military objectives that conventional weapons can otherwise achieve would be illegal.

The reason is that the nuclear option would violate principles of the law of war, or what’s called humanitarian law, by causing indiscriminate and disproportionate loss of life and superfluous injury, since nuclear weapons are far more catastrophic than conventional weapons. If conventional weapons could achieve the same military objectives, then any order to use nuclear weapons instead would be manifestly illegal, leading to allegations of war crimes. But heads of state like Trump are generally immune from prosecution, at least while they remain in office, even for serious violations of international law like war crimes and crimes against humanity.

However, the whole reason heads of state enjoy immunity is that the state would be unable effectively to represent itself in its dealings with other states if these individuals were stuck in foreign states’ docks. Thus high-ranking members of the U.S. Strategic Command and other planning bodies likely fall outside the scope of immunity, and the farther down the chain one goes, the less immunity applies. In turn, only heads of state and perhaps other extremely high-ranking officials would have immunity.

But where could these planners and executors be prosecuted? One option would be in U.S. domestic courts or military tribunals, especially if there is a change in administration. Another option would be foreign tribunals. Because war crimes are subject to what’s called universal jurisdiction, any nation in the world may prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. This is not just theoretical or academic.
The practice of universal jurisdiction has spiked in recent years when it comes to serious violations of international law, such as torture, crimes against humanity and certain acts of terrorism.

Nuclear strike planners have a duty under international and domestic U.S. law to reject illegal nuclear strike orders. If they do not, they can be held liable in both domestic and foreign courts. Immunity will not shield them from prosecution.

Anthony J. Colangelo is a law professor at Southern Methodist University and a senior associate at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. Email:colangelo@smu.edu

February 14, 2018 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Lawsuit against Georgia Regulators Over Nuclear Decision

Vogtle Opponents Sue Georgia Regulators Over Nuclear Decision, WABE,  • Opponents of a nuclear power expansion in Georgia are suing over it. Environmental groups claim state regulators didn’t follow their own rules when they decided to let construction at Plant Vogtle continue.

In December, the Georgia Public Service Commission voted unanimouslyto keep work on two new nuclear reactors going, even though they’re five years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

The groups Georgia Interfaith Power and Light and the Partnership for Southern Equity claim the commission rushed the decision and should have gathered more information.

“This was the wrong way to go about making a multi-billion dollar decision,” said Kurt Ebersbach, an attorney at Southern Environmental Law Center, who represents the groups.

The suit is being filed in Fulton County Superior Court……. https://www.wabe.org/vogtle-opponents-sue-georgia-regulators-nuclear-decision/

February 14, 2018 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium “helped sow deaths and illnesses” in Italian soldiers

Uranium caused cancer – probe http://www.ansa.it/english/news/politics/2018/02/07/uranium-caused-cancer-probe_560c540f-b60e-4f90-8ce4-29c0dc42cd6d.html  But expert denies saying there was causal link,  Redazione ANSA, 7 Feb 18  ANSA) -Rome   – The final report of a commission on depleted uranium said Italian soldiers had been exposed to “shocking” levels of it in Italy and on foreign missions, and that it had “helped sow deaths and illnesses”.
However, the doctor whose expert opinion informed the panel’s conclusions denied a link between uranium and cancer. Levels of uranium in the sectors of security and workplace health for soldiers had been toxic and deadly, said the report from the parliamentary commission of inquiry. The report highlighted that military chiefs had been in “denial” on the phenomenon, and also stressed the “deafening silences maintained by government authorities.” Experts heard by the panel had verified the links between exposure to depleted uranium and tumours, the report said.
Commission Chair Gian Piero Scanu of the Democratic Party said “repeated judicial sentences have consistently affirmed the existence of a causal link between exposure to depleted uranium and the pathologies cited by the soldiers: this is a milestone and now those who were exposed will have the possibility of getting justice without having to struggle as they have done so far”.

But the Italian doctor whose expert testimony was cited by the commission as evidence that depleted uranium caused cancer in soldiers denied “ever saying that”. “That is absolutely not my thinking, I never said that depleted uranium is responsible for the tumours found in the soldiers,” said Giorgio Trenta of the Italian association for medical radioprotection. Trenta’s report was cited by the panel as proof of the causal link between depleted uranium and cancer.
The relatives of soldiers who died of uranium-linked cancer have been suing the government for years and pursuing cases in the courts, amid denials from military authorities.
In 2016 a Rome appeals court upheld a guilty verdict for the defence ministry in the 1999 death from leukemia due to depleted uranium exposure of 23-year-old Corporal Salvatore Vacca who handled uranium-tipped munitions during a 150-day mission in Bosnia in 1998-99.
The court found the ministry guilty of not having protected Vacca.
It ordered the ministry to pay more than one and a half million euros in compensation to Vacca’s family.
The families of other victims are suing the ministry for deaths allegedly due to depleted uranium exposure on several Italian missions.
Domenico Leggiero of the Military Observatory group said the sentence was “historic, because it confirms that the ministry was aware of the danger the soldiers sent to those zones were subject to”.
He said “I am sure Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti will bear this ruling in mind when she appears before the parliamentary depleted uranium commission”.
Italian authorities consistently played down the uranium risks

February 9, 2018 Posted by | deaths by radiation, depleted uranium, EUROPE, legal | Leave a comment