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Despite previous warnings, and findings, court finds Tepco executive not guilty after Fukushima nuclear disaster

Fukushima trial ends in not guilty verdict, but nuclear disaster will haunt Japan for decades to come, By James Griffiths, CNN, September 19, 2019  The only criminal prosecution stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has ended in not guilty verdicts, in a blow to families displaced by the meltdown, as the fallout promises to haunt northern Japan for decades to come.

A court in Tokyo acquitted the former chairman and two former vice presidents of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the firm which operated the Fukushima Daiichi plant, according to public broadcaster NHK. The trio were accused negligence for failing to implement safety measures, all three pleaded not guilty. Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro argued they could not have reasonably foreseen the disaster and thus were not responsible for its effects, including the premature deaths of 44 hospital patients linked to the emergency evacuation.
Japanese prosecutors had previously refused to charge the men, and only took up the case after a concerted legal effort by the families of the dead and those who were evacuated from the area around Fukushima.
The cleanup from the disaster — caused when an earthquake-triggered tsunami struck the plant — is expected to take decades, and cost billions of dollars. Tens of thousands of people still remain displaced, eight years after the original meltdown.
This month, officials said that water pumped into the stricken plant to cool its nuclear cores might have to be dumped into the ocean, due to a lack of storage space for the thousands of tons of contaminated liquid. Around 300 to 400 tons of highly radioactive water is generated every day; it’s currently stored in hundreds of tanks at the site, from which there have been multiple leaks in the years since decommissioning started.
“There are no other options,” environment minister Yoshiaki Harada said of dumping the water into the sea, though other officials claimed a final decision has not yet been made.
The suggestion of dumping even diluted radioactive runoff raised alarm in neighboring South Korea, and could effect the Japanese fishing industry over fears of contamination, regardless of whether these are valid. The original disaster sparked panics in China and on the United States West Coast, where radioactive isotopes have been detected in the California wine crop.
Tepco has previously estimated the Fukushima cleanup could take up to 40 years, at a cost of some $50 billion……….
Tepco’s liability has been a key point of contention since the meltdown.
The firm has firmly maintained that the disaster was just that, a catastrophic event that could not have been planned for. The Tohoku earthquake was the fourth largest in world history, the largest ever to strike Japan, and Tepco’s position is that it simply could not have been expected to guard against such a disaster.
But evacuees — some of whom may never be able to return to their homes — have argued this lets plant officials off the hook.
Certainly, Tepco’s response in aftermath the disaster has provided plenty of ammunition for critics, such as the delay in announcing a meltdown was taking place, Tepco’s own admitted downplaying of safety concerns, and multiple leaks of contaminated water during the cleanup process.
In 2012, a Japanese government report found that measures taken by Tepco and the Japanese nuclear regulator to prepare for disasters were “insufficient” and response to the crisis “inadequate.” That came in the wake of a study presented in parliament which said the disaster, far from being an act of nature, was a “man-made” catastrophe which should have been predicted and prepared for.
In fact, of all the studies of the disaster, only Tepco’s own internal report found that no one could have predicted the scale of the earthquake and tsunami and prepared for them. A parliamentary panel said that “the direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to March 11, 2011.”
Despite these damning findings, however, Japanese authorities have shown little desire to hold Tepco officials accountable. Prosecutors twice refused to bring charges, and this week’s court case only occurred after residents appealed.
Thursday’s decision now closes the legal chapter on Fukushima. But as tons and tons of contaminated water continue to build up at the site of the former plant, and fuel rods remain to be cleared, the ghosts of the disaster will be with Japan for decades to come.

CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki contributed reporting from Tokyo. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/19/asia/japan-fukushima-trial-intl-hnk/index.html

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September 22, 2019 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear watchdog groups warn legal action over environmental impact of plutonium pit production

September 20, 2019 Posted by | environment, legal, 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

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

Sweden’s Uppsala District Court rules against extraditing Assange to Sweden

4 June 19

Sweden’s Uppsala District Court has found in favour of Assange: the court ruled NOT to detain Assange in absentia. The preliminary investigation can proceed without Assange’s extradition to Sweden. This was always the case as Assange has always cooperated with the investigation.

Suzie Dawson on Julian Assange’s mistreatment #FreeAssange

June 4, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, Sweden | Leave a comment

Trump violates US and International Law by threats to attack Iran

An Attack on Iran Would Violate US and International Law— 

Trump’s threats to use military force in Iran and the use of force itself are illegal under the United Nations Charter and the War Powers Resolution. Marjorie Cohn, Truthout   25 May 19,
President Donald Trump, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rattle their sabers, there is no evidence that Iran poses a threat to the United States. It was Trump who threatened genocide, tweeting, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” The Pentagon is now considering sending 10,000 additional troops to the Gulf region for “defensive” purposes and not in response to a new threat by Iran. Threats to use military force — like the use of force itself — violate U.S. and international law.Last week, Pompeo said U.S. intelligence had determined that Iranian-sponsored attacks on U.S. forces “were imminent.” The Trump administration asserted, “without evidence,” according to The New York Times, that new intelligence revealed Iran was sponsoring proxy groups to attack U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

The Pentagon announced its intention to deploy a Patriot antimissile battery to the Middle East. Three days later, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the United States would send up to 120,000 troops to the region if Iran attacks U.S. forces or speeds up work on nuclear weapons.

But on May 14, Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, a senior British military official and deputy commander of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, told reporters at the Pentagon that “there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria.”

The U.S. and Israel Plan Regime Change in IranThe Trump administration and its close ally Israel have long had their sights on regime change in Iran…….

The U.S., Not Iran, Is Acting AggressivelyThe New York Times cites military and intelligence officials in the U.S. and Europe who maintain that during the past year, “most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington” where Bolton “has prodded President Trump into backing Iran into a corner.” Bolton “has repeatedly called for American military strikes against Tehran,” The New York Times reported.

Pompeo listed 12 demands Iran must meet to secure a new nuclear agreement. “Taken together, the demands would require a complete transformation by Iran’s government, and they hardened the perception that the administration is really seeking regime change,” according to The Associated Press.

The Pentagon has prepared plans for an air attack on Iran, veteran Middle East war correspondent Eric Margolis reported in July 2018. He wrote:

The Pentagon has planned a high-intensity air war against Iran that Israel and the Saudis might very well join. The plan calls for over 2,300 air strikes against Iranian strategic targets: airfields and naval bases, arms and petroleum, oil and lubricant depots, telecommunication nodes, radar, factories, military headquarters, ports, water works, airports, missile bases and units of the Revolutionary Guards.

Trump’s reckless withdrawal from the nuclear deal actually increases the chances Iran will develop a nuclear program. After complying with the JCPOA for a year after Trump pulled out of it, Iran is now threatening to resume high enrichment of uranium, which it had agreed to halt under the deal.Trump’s threats to use military force in Iran and the use of force itself are illegal under the United Nations Charter and the War Powers Resolution.

The U.S. Violates the United Nations CharterRatified treaties are “the supreme law of the land” under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. That means their provisions constitute U.S. law. The United Nations Charter, which the U.S. ratified in 1945, is therefore binding domestic law.

In Article 2, the Charter provides, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

The only exception to the Charter’s prohibition on the threat or use of force is when a country acts in self-defense or with the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

Countries may engage in individual or collective self-defense only in the face of an armed attack, under Article 51 of the Charter. Iran has not mounted an armed attack against the United States. Under the well-established Caroline case, there must exist “a necessity of self-defence, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”

Pompeo’s claim that Iranian-sponsored attacks will “imminently” occur against U.S. forces remains unsubstantiated. Nothing in the Charter allows a U.N. member country to unilaterally decide to use military force unless it does so in self-defense.  If the United States were to attack and/or invade Iran, it would be acting unlawfully and not in self-defense.

Violation of the War Powers ResolutionA U.S. attack on Iran would also violate the War Powers Resolution. Congress enacted that law to reclaim its constitutional authority to send U.S. troops into combat after the disastrous Vietnam War. The resolution allows the president to introduce U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities in only three situations:

First, when Congress has declared war, which it has not done since World War II. Second, in the event of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,” which has not occurred. Third, when Congress has enacted “specific statutory authorization,” such as an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). There is no AUMF or other congressional statute authorizing the use of military force in Iran.

After the September 11 attacks, Congress passed an AUMF, authorizing the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

Although the 2001 AUMF was tied to the 9/11 attacks, it has been misused to justify multiple military operations in several countries, many of them unrelated to 9/11………   https://truthout.org/articles/an-attack-on-iran-would-violate-us-and-international-law/

May 25, 2019 Posted by | legal, politics international, 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

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

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

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

Nevada asks court to order removal of plutonium from this State

Nevada wants plutonium removed from state pending appeal https://www.kolotv.com/content/news/Nevada-wants-plutonium-removed-from-state-pending-appeal-507042751.html, 13 Mar 19, 

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Nevada wants a federal appeals court to order the U.S. government to remove weapon-grade plutonium the Department of Energy secretly trucked to a site near Las Vegas until the court decides whether the clandestine move was illegal.

The extraordinary request comes in an increasingly aggressive legal battle over the highly radioactive material the state says poses a danger to Nevadans’ health and safety.

A federal judge in Reno has denied a similar motion for a temporary injunction pending the outcome of an appeal before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

She ruled the matter was moot given the plutonium already had been shipped and DOE says no further shipments are planned.

Nevada’s lawyers said in a new filing late Monday the government can’t be trusted. They say removal of the plutonium is the only way to protect Nevada’s rights.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

Claim that SCANA executives deliberately lied to investors about the future of a doomed nuclear construction project

Lawyer: Ex-SCANA officials ‘whitewashed,’ lied about defects at failed nuclear plant John Monk, The State Greenville News,  March 5, 2019   COLUMBIA — SCANA executives deliberately lied to investors about the future of a doomed nuclear construction project, a lawyer representing former SCANA shareholders argued in court Monday.

“The bottom line is they (SCANA executives) lied to everyone, and they did it intentionally,” attorney John Browne told U.S. Judge Margaret Seymour.

The cost was tremendous, said Brown, whose lawsuit argues shareholders lost some $2.7 billion in stock value when the company’s stock price plummeted.

Seymour has a crucial decision to make about Browne’s lawsuit that alleges SCANA executives committed civil fraud that deflated investors’ stock valuations. She will decide whether to allow Browne’s lawsuit to go forward or dismiss it. She gave no hint Monday on how she might rule, or when.

Watching the proceedings Monday at the federal courthouse in Columbia were several attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is working with the FBI to investigate criminal fraud allegations against SCANA and some of its former executives……….

During the hearing, Browne referred repeatedly to a document known as the Bechtel Report, which SCANA commissioned in 2015 to evaluate progress on the V.C. Summer nuclear plant under construction.

The Bechtel report, a draft of which was presented to SCANA the fall of 2015, detailed substantial cost overruns, construction delays and shoddy work at the nuclear plant site. But the report was never publicly released or discussed.

The company, which was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, hid its findings from investors, the press and the public, Browne said. ……..    https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2019/03/05/lawyer-says-former-scana-officials-lied-failed-south-carolina-nuclear-plant/3065200002/

March 7, 2019 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment

For the 5th time, a court rules the Japanese govt liable for the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe

Japan gov’t, Fukushima operator told to pay over nuclear disaster https://news.abs-cbn.com/overseas/02/20/19/japan-govt-fukushima-operator-told-to-pay-over-nuclear-disaster, Agence France-Presse, TOKYO- A Japanese court Wednesday awarded nearly $4 million in fresh damages to scores of residents forced to flee their homes after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The Yokohama district court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to pay 419.6 million yen ($3.8 million) to 152 local residents, a court spokeswoman told AFP.

The verdict was the fifth time the government has been ruled liable for the disaster in eastern Japan, the world’s most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Presiding judge Ken Nakadaira said the government and TEPCO “could have avoided the accident if they had taken measures” against the tsunami that sparked the disaster, according to public broadcaster NHK.

In March last year, a court in Kyoto, western Japan, ruled both the government and TEPCO were responsible and ordered them to pay 110 million yen to 110 residents.

However, in a separate case in September 2017 in Chiba near Tokyo, the court ruled that only the operator was liable.

Around 12,000 people who fled after the disaster due to radiation fears have filed various lawsuits against the government and TEPCO.

Cases have revolved around whether the government and TEPCO, both of whom are responsible for disaster prevention measures, could have foreseen the scale of the tsunami and subsequent meltdown.

Dozens of class-action lawsuits have been filed seeking compensation from the government.

Triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake, the tsunami overwhelmed reactor cooling systems, sending three into meltdown and sending radiation over a large area.

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

Lockheed Martin Sued for Fraud over Washington Nuclear Site

 https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2019/02/15/518025.htm

February 15, 2019 The U.S. Justice Department is accusing Lockheed Martin Corp. of using false records and making false statements to bill the Energy Department for tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized profits and fees at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington.

The federal civil lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington.

The Seattle Times says the lawsuit also accuses Lockheed Martin of using federal money to pay millions of dollars in kickbacks.

Hanford is located near Richland, Washington, and for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons. The site is now involved in a massive cleanup effort that costs more than $2 billion per year.

The lawsuit covers the period from 2010 to 2015.

Lockheed Martin denied the allegations and said it will defend itself vigorously.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | legal, USA | Leave a comment