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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Avril Haines is unfit for Director of National Intelligence, with her history of coverup of tortures.

December 31, 2020 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission “sanitises” report, wipes off safety findings about nuclear license renewals

Inviting Nuclear Disaster Counterpunch BY KARL GROSSMAN, 30 Dec 20, “……….Paul Gunter points to what happened to a report which the NRC commissioned the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to make. “The federal laboratory was contracted by the NRC to develop the criteria and guidance document to address and close numerous ‘knowledge gaps’ in the license renewal safety review process to provide the ‘reasonable assurance’ that the reactors could be operated reliably and safely into the license extension period,” relates Gunter. The 2017 report raised many significant issues regarding extending the operating licenses of nuclear plants.

The report is titled “Criteria and Planning Guidance for Ex-Plant Harvesting to Support Subsequent License Renewal.”

It “was publicly posted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to its website in December 2017,” relates Gunter, “as well as to the websites of the Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information and the International Atomic Energy Commission’s International Nuclear Information System.”

But then Gunter attended a public meeting at the NRC’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland on September 26, 2018 on operating license extensions “and I started asking questions citing the report” of the year before. The NRC officials there “were quite surprised.”

And the NRC “wiped all three websites of the report.”

The NRC was to repost the report, but it was then “scrubbed clean of dozens of references to safety-critical knowledge ‘gaps’ pertaining to many known age-related degradation mechanisms described in the original published report,” says Gunter. “The NRC revision also scrubbed Pacific Northwest National Laboratory findings and recommendations to ‘require’ the harvesting of realistic and representative aged materials from decommissioning nuclear power stations—base metals, weld materials, electric cables, insulation and jacketing, reactor internals and safety-related concrete structures like the containment and spent fuel pool—for laboratory analyses of age degradation. The laboratory analyses are intended to provide ‘reasonable assurance’ of the license extension safety review process for the projected extension period.”

However, Beyond Nuclear had downloaded and saved a copy of the original report which you can view here.

And you can view what Gunter terms the “sanitized version” of the report which has the same title but is dated March 2019. It’s here.

The omissions start with what is headed “Abstract” in the original 2017 report. The “Abstract” states: “As U.S. nuclear power plants look to subsequent license renewal (SLR) to operate for a 20-year period beyond 60 years, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the industry will be addressing technical issues around the capability of long-lived passive components to meet their functionality objectives. A key challenge will be to better understand likely materials degradation mechanisms in these components and their impacts on component functionality and safety margins. Research addressing many of the remaining technical gaps in these areas for SLR may greatly benefit from materials sampled from plants (decommissioned or operating). Because of the cost and inefficiency of piecemeal sampling, there is a need for a strategic and systematic approach to sampling materials from structures, systems and components in both operating and decommissioned plants.”

But in the 2019 version of the report, this “Abstract,” among other material, is gone.……  ……..https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/12/30/inviting-nuclear-disaster/?fbclid=IwAR1YQ614qqcsQZ3mwVCo9UV2JlqCfVBgmS358L7DCCwcShjKDJFtzH-nZ0k

December 31, 2020 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Kingston Fossil Plant and Oakridge Nuclear Facility – an unholy alliance of radioactive pollution

While no one was killed by the 2008 coal ash spill itself, dozens of workers have died from illnesses that emerged during or after the cleanup. Hundreds of other workers are sick from respiratory, cardiac, neurological, and blood disorders, as well as cancers.

The apparent mixing of fossil fuel and nuclear waste streams underscores the long relationship between the Kingston and Oak Ridge facilities.

Between the 1950s and 1980s, so much cesium-137 and mercury was released into the Clinch from Oak Ridge that the Department of Energy, or DOE, said that the river and its feeder stream “served as pipelines for contaminants.” Yet TVA and its contractors, with the blessing of both state and federal regulators, classified all 4 million tons of material they recovered from the Emory as “non-hazardous.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analysis confirms that the ash that was left in the river was “found to be commingled with contamination from the Department of Energy (DOE) Oak Ridge Reservation site.

For nearly a century, both Oak Ridge and TVA treated their waste with less care than most families treat household garbage. It was often dumped into unlined, and sometimes unmarked, pits that continue to leak into waterways. For decades, Oak Ridge served as the Southeast’s burial ground for nuclear waste. It was stored within watersheds and floodplains that fed the Clinch River. But exactly where and how this waste was buried has been notoriously hard to track.

A Legacy of Contamination, How the Kingston coal ash spill unearthed a nuclear nightmare, Grist By Austyn Gaffney on Dec 15, 2020  This story was published in partnership with the Daily Yonder.

In 2009, App Thacker was hired to run a dredge along the Emory River in eastern Tennessee. Picture anindustrialized fleet modeled after Huck Finn’s raft: Nicknamed Adelyn, Kylee, and Shirley, the blue, flat-bottomed boats used mechanical arms called cutterheads to dig up riverbeds and siphon the excavated sediment into shoreline canals. The largest dredge, a two-story behemoth called the Sandpiper, had pipes wide enough to swallow a push lawnmower. Smaller dredges like Thacker’s scuttled behind it, scooping up excess muck like fish skimming a whale’s corpse. They all had the same directive: Remove the thick grey sludge that clogged the Emory.

The sludge was coal ash, the waste leftover when coal is burned to generate electricity. Twelve years ago this month, more than a billion gallons of wet ash burst from a holding pond monitored by the region’s major utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA. Thacker, a heavy machinery operator with Knoxville’s 917 union, became one of hundreds of people that TVA contractors hired to clean up the spill. For about four years, Thacker spent every afternoon driving 35 miles from his home to arrive in time for his 5 p.m. shift, just as the makeshift overhead lights illuminating the canals of ash flicked on.

Dredging at night was hard work. The pump inside the dredge clogged repeatedly, so Thacker took off his shirt and entered water up to his armpits to remove rocks, tree limbs, tires, and other debris, sometimes in below-freezing temperatures. Soon, ringworm-like sores crested along his arms, interwoven with his fading red and blue tattoos. Thacker’s supervisors gave him a cream for the skin lesions, and he began wearing long black cow-birthing gloves while he unclogged pumps. While Thacker knew that the water was contaminated — that was the point of the dredging — he felt relatively safe. After all, TVA was one of the oldest and most respected employers in the state, with a sterling reputation for worker safety.

Then, one night, the dredging stopped.

Sometime between December 2009 and January 2010, roughly halfway through the final, 500-foot-wide section of the Emory designated for cleanup, operators turned off the pumps that sucked the ash from the river. For a multi-billion dollar remediation project, this order was unprecedented. The dredges had been operating 24/7 in an effort to clean up the disaster area as quickly as possible, removing roughly 3,000 cubic yards of material — almost enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool — each day. But official reports from TVA show that the dredging of the Emory encountered unusually high levels of contamination: Sediment samples showed that mercury levels were three times higher in the river than they were in coal ash from the holding pond that caused the disaster.

Then there was the nuclear waste. Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | employment, environment, history, legal, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, Reference, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

How the marketing of American weapons determines U.S. foreign policy on China

Key Pentagon Official Turned China Policy Over to Arms Industry & Taiwan Supporters  October 28, 2020,  The triumph of corporate and foreign interests over one of the most consequential decisions regarding China is likely to bedevil U.S. foreign policy for years to come, writes Gareth Porter. https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/28/key-pentagon-official-turned-china-policy-over-to-arms-industry-taiwan-supporters/   By Gareth Porter
The Grayzone   

When the United States finalized a set of seven arms sales packages to Taiwan in August, including 66 upgraded F-16 fighter planes and longer-range air-to-ground missiles that could hit sensitive targets on mainland China, it shifted U.S. policy sharply toward a much more aggressive stance on the geo-strategic island at the heart of military tensions between the United States and China.

Branded “Fortress Taiwan” by the Pentagon, the ambitious arms deal was engineered by Randall Schriver, a veteran pro-Taiwan activist and anti-China hardliner whose think tank had been financed by America’s biggest arms contractors and by the Taiwan government itself.  

Since assuming the post of assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs in early 2018, Schriver has focused primarily on granting his major arms company patrons the vaunted arms deals they had sought for years.

The arms sales Schriver has overseen represent the most dangerous U.S. escalation against China in years. The weapons systems will give Taiwan the capability to strike Chinese military and civilian targets far inland, thus emboldening those determined to push for independence from China.

Although no U.S. administration has committed to defending Taiwan since Washington normalized relations with China, the Pentagon is developing the weapons systems and military strategy it would need for a full-scale war. If a conflict breaks out, Taiwan is likely to be at its center.

Returning Favors

Schriver is a longtime advocate of massive, highly provocative arms sales to Taiwan who has advanced the demand that the territory be treated more like a sovereign, independent state. His lobbying has been propelled by financial support from major arms contractors and Taiwan through two institutional bases: a consulting business and a “think tank” that also led the charge for arms sales to U.S. allies in East Asia.

The first of these outfits was a consulting firm called Armitage International, which Schriver founded in 2005 with Richard Armitage, a senior Pentagon and State Department official in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.

Schriver had served as Armitage’s chief of staff in the State Department and then as deputy sssistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. (Armitage, a lifelong Republican, recently released a video endorsement of Joseph Biden for president).

As a partner in Armitage International, Schriver was paid consulting fees by two major arms contractors — Boeing and Raytheon — both of which hoped to obtain arms sales to Taiwan and other East Asian allies to compensate for declining profits from Pentagon contracts.

Schriver started a second national-security venture in 2008 as president and CEO of a new lobbying front called The Project 2049 Institute, where Armitage served as chairman of the board. The name of the new institution referred to the date by which some anti-China hawks believed China intended to achieve global domination.

From its inception, The Project 2049 Institute focused primarily on U.S. military cooperation with Northeast Asian allies — and Taiwan in particular — with an emphasis on selling them more and better U.S. arms.

Schriver, known as the Taiwan government’s main ally in Washington, became the key interlocutor for major U.S. arms makers looking to cash in potential markets in Taiwan. He was able to solicit financial support for the institute from Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, BAE and Raytheon, according to Project 2049’s internet site, which provides no figures on the amounts given by each prior to 2017.

Equally important, however, is The Project 2049 Institute’s heavy dependence on grants from the government of Taiwan. The most recent annual report of the institute shows that more than a third of its funding in 2017 came either directly from the Taiwan government or a quasi-official organization representing its national security institutions.

Project 2049 received a total of $280,000 from the Taiwan Ministry of Defense and Taiwan’s unofficial diplomatic office in Washington (TECRO) as well as $60,000 from the “Prospect Foundation,” whose officers are all former top national-security officials of Taiwan.  In 2017, another $252,000 in support for Schriver’s institute came from the State Department, at a time when it was taking an especially aggressive public anti-China line.

By creating a non-profit “think tank,” Schriver and Armitage had found a way to skirt rules aimed at minimizing conflicts of interest in the executive branch.

The Executive Order 13770 issued by President Donald Trump in early 2017 that was supposed to tighten restrictions on conflicts of interest barred Schriver from participation for a period of two years “in any particular matter that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients….”

 

However, the financial support for Project 2049 from Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, General Atomics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, and from Taiwanese official and quasi-official bodies were considered as outside that prohibition, because they were not technically “clients.”

Big Wins for Supporters

Brought into the Pentagon at the beginning 2018 to push China policy toward a more confrontational stance, Schriver spent 2018 and the first half of 2019 moving proposals for several major arms sales to Taiwan — including the new F-16s and the air-to-ground missiles capable of hitting sensitive targets in China — through inter-agency consultations.

He secured White House approval for the arms packages and Congress was informally notified in August 2019, however, Congress was not notified of the decision until August 2020. That was because Trump was engaged in serious trade negotiations with China and wanted to avoid unnecessary provocation to Beijing.

Lockheed Martin was the biggest corporate winner in the huge and expensive suite of arms sales to Taiwan. It reaped the largest single package of the series: a 10-year, $8 billion deal for which it was the “principal contractor” to provide 66 of its own F-16 fighters to Taiwan, along with the accompanying engines, radars and other electronic warfare equipment.

The seven major arms sales packages included big wins for other corporate supporters as well: Boeing’s AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM), which could be fired by the F-16s and hit sensitive military and even economic targets in China’s Nanjing region, and sea-surveillance drones from General Atomics.

In February 2020, shortly after Schriver left the Pentagon, the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen received the lobbyist in her office in Taipei and publicly thanked him for having “facilitated the sale of F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan and attached great importance to the role and status of Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific region.” It was an extraordinary expression of a foreign government’s gratitude for a U.S. official’s service to its interests.

Having delivered the goods for the big military contractors and the Taiwan government, Schriver returned to The Project 2049 Institute, replacing Armitage as chairman of the board.

Neocon Vision

The arms sales to Taiwan represented a signal victory for those who still hoping to reverse the official U.S. acceptance the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of all of China.

Ever since the 1982 U.S.-China Joint Communique, in which the United States vowed that it had “no intention of interfering in China’s internal affairs or pursuing a policy of “two China’s” or “one China, one Taiwan,” anti-China hardliners who opposed that concession have insisted on making the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which called for the United States to sell Taiwan such arms “as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability” as keystone of U.S. Taiwan policy.

The neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC) led by William Kristol and Robert Kagan wanted to go even further; it pushed for the United States to restore its early Cold War commitment to defend Taiwan from any Chinese military assault.

Thus a 1999 PNAC statement called on the United States to “declare unambiguously that it will come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of an attack or a blockade against Taiwan, including against the offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen.”

After leaving the World Bank in 2008 amidst a scandal involving his girlfriend, Paul Wolfowitz – the author of that 1999 statement on East Asia – turned his attention to protecting Taiwan.

Despite the absence of any business interest he was known to have in Taiwan, Wolfowitz was chairman of the board of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council from 2008 to 2018. The Project 2049 Institute was a key member of the council, along with all the major arms companies hoping to make sales to Taiwan.

During the first days of Wolfowitz’s chairmanship, the U.S.-China Business Council published a lengthy study warning of a deteriorating air power balance between China and Taiwan.  The study was obviously written under the auspices of one or more of the major arms companies who were members, but it was attributed only to “the Council’s membership” and to “several outside experts” whom it did not name.

The study criticized both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations for refusing to provide the latest F-16 models to Taiwan, warning that U.S. forces would be forced to defend the island directly if the jets were not immediately supplied.  It also called for providing Taiwan with land-attack cruise missiles capable of hitting some of the most sensitive military and civilian targets in the Nanjing province that lay opposite Taiwan.

The delicacy of the political-diplomatic situation regarding Taiwan’s status, and the reality of China’s ability to reunify the country if it chooses to do so has deterred every administration since George H.W. Bush sold 150 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. That was, until Shriver’s provocative “Fortress Taiwan” sale went through.

The triumph of corporate and foreign interests in determining one of the most consequential U.S. decisions regarding China is likely to bedevil U.S. policy for years to come.  At a moment when the Pentagon is pushing a rearmament program based mainly on preparation for war with China, an influential former official backed by arms industry and Taiwanese money has helped set the stage for a potentially catastrophic confrontation.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis, co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

This article is from The Grayzone

December 29, 2020 Posted by | investigative journalism, marketing of nuclear, politics, politics international, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | 4 Comments

Small Nuclear Reactors – the Big New Way – to get the public to fund the nuclear weapons industry

so-called “small nuclear reactors”

Downing Street told the Financial Times, which it faithfully reported, that it was “considering” £2 billion of taxpayers’ money to support “small nuclear reactors”

They are not small

The first thing to know about these beasts is that they are not small. 440MW? The plant at Wylfa (Anglesey, north Wales) was 460MW (it’s closed now). 440MW is bigger than all the Magnox type reactors except Wylfa and comparable to an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor.

Only if military needs are driving this decision is it explicable.

”Clearly, the military need to maintain both reactor construction and operation skills and access to fissile materials will remain. I can well see the temptation for Defence Ministers to try to transfer this cost to civilian budgets,” 

Any nation’s defence budget in this day and age cannot afford a new generation of nuclear weapons. So it needs to pass the costs onto the energy sector.

How the UK’s secret defence policy is driving energy policy – with the public kept in the darkhttps://www.thefifthestate.com.au/energy-lead/how-the-uks-secret-defence-policy-is-driving-energy-policy-with-the-public-kept-in-the-dark/  BY DAVID THORPE / 13 OCTOBER 2020

 The UK government has for 15 years persistently backed the need for new nuclear power. Given its many problems, most informed observers can’t understand why. The answer lies in its commitment to being a nuclear military force. Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Untrue: claims that the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended World War 2

Did the Atomic Bomb End the Pacific War?
The use of the atomic weapon must be seen as a continuation and a start: the nuclear continuation of the conventional terror bombing of Japanese civilians, and the start of a new “cold war.” Portside, August 2, 2020 Paul Ham

Many historians and most lay people still

believe the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the Pacific War.

They claim with varying intensity that the Japanese regime surrendered unconditionally in response to the nuclear attack; that the bomb saved a million or more Amercian servicemen; that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen chiefly for their value as military targets; and that the use of the weapon was, according to a post-war propaganda campaign aimed at soothing American consciences, ‘our least abhorrent   choice’.

The trouble is, not one of these claims is true.

That such denial of the facts has been allowed to persist for 75 years, that so many people believe this ‘revisionist’ line – revisionist because it was concocted after the war as a post-facto justification for the bomb – demonstrates the power of a government-sponsored rewrite of history over the minds of academics, journalists, citizens and presidents.

The uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima, code-named ‘Little Boy’, landed on the city center, exploding above the main hospital and wiping out dozens of schools, killing 75,000 people, including tens of thousands of school children.

‘Fat Man’, the plutonium bomb used on Nagasaki, incinerated the largest Catholic community in Japan, obliterating the country’s biggest cathedral along with a residential district packed with schools and hospitals. Its missed its original target, the city center.

Zealous apologists for the bomb will have started picking holes: Hiroshima held troops? Yes, a few enfeebled battalions. Hiroshima had military factories? Most were on the outskirts of town, well clear of the bomb. Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | history, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

 SOUTH KOREA’S CORRUPT AND DANGEROUS NUCLEAR INDUSTRY

“During the eighteen months from the beginning of 2012 to mid- 2013, major corruption incidents occurred in the nuclear power industry in every country currently seeking to export nuclear reactors: the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Russia, France, and China….. “In the Korean case, systemic nuclear industry corruption was found

Supplementary Submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Environment and Planning
Inquiry into Nuclear Prohibition Friends of the Earth Australia www.nuclear.foe.org.au
 June 2020  – Extract 

 SOUTH KOREA’S CORRUPT AND DANGEROUS NUCLEAR INDUSTRY

South Korea’s reactor project in the UAE is years behind schedule: the start-up of the first reactor has not yet occurred despite initially being scheduled for 2017. The project has been promoted as a US$20 billion (A$29 billion) contract but costs have undoubtedly increased. The World Nuclear Industry Status Report gives a figure of €24.4 billion (A$40 billion).[1]

[1] https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/The-World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2017-HTML.html

[2] KBS, 8 May 2020, ‘S. Korea Unveils Energy Plan to Reduce Coal-powered, Nuclear Power Plants’, http://world.kbs.co.kr/service/news_view.htm

The following articles discuss:

  1. The endemic corruption in South Korea’s nuclear industry.
  2. The business model which sacrifices safety in order to improve economics (the CEO of French nuclear utility Areva likened Korea’s AP1400 reactor design to ‘a car without airbags and safety belts.'[1])
  3. The level of state-sponsored skullduggery associated with South Korea’s nuclear industry is almost beyond belief, even extending to a secret military side-agreement to the UAE reactor contract which was agreed without the knowledge or agreement of South Korea’s parliament

Nuclear corruption and the partial reform of South Korea’s nuclear mafia

Jim Green, Nuclear Monitor #887, 17 June 2020, https://wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/887/nuclear-monitor-887-17-june-2020

The corrupt behavior of Japan’s ‘nuclear village’ ‒ and the very existence of the nuclear village ‒ were root causes of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster and a string of earlier accidents.1 In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, academic Richard Tanter identified a worldwide pattern of nuclear corruption:2

“During the eighteen months from the beginning of 2012 to mid- 2013, major corruption incidents occurred in the nuclear power industry in every country currently seeking to export nuclear reactors: the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Russia, France, and China. A number of other countries that operate or plan to have nuclear power plants also had major corruption cases, including Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Pakistan; moreover, serious allegations of corruption were raised in Egypt, India, Jordan, Nigeria, Slovakia, South Africa, and Taiwan.

 “In the Korean case, systemic nuclear industry corruption was found; in Canada, deep corporate corruption within the largest nuclear engineering corporation was one matter, and bribery of nuclear technology consuming countries’ senior ministers was another. In Russia, the issue was persistent, deep seated, and widespread corruption in state-owned and private nuclear industry companies, with profound implications for the safety of Russian nuclear industry exports.

South Korea is slowly phasing out its nuclear power industry. In the late 2000s, it was anticipated that South Korea’s nuclear capacity would rise from 18 gigawatts (GW) to 43 GW by 2030. The current plan is to reduce the number of reactors from a peak of 26 in 2024 to 17 reactors (approx. 17 GW) in 2034.[2] Thus the ambitions have been more than halved. In recent years the South Korean government has shut down the Kori-1 and Wolsong-1 reactors, and suspended or cancelled plans for six further reactors.

“Two cases in nuclear technology importing countries, Lithuania and Bulgaria, revealed large-scale bribery involving government, the nuclear industry, and foreign (US and Russian) companies.

 “Post-Soviet bloc geostrategic energy interests are central to both stories. The profound influence of organized crime in national energy policy, and on a transnational basis, is revealed in the Bulgarian and Russian cases. Suspicions are widespread and allegations common in the cases of India, Taiwan, and Bangladesh, but confirmed evidence remains weak.”

Since Tanter’s 2013 article, more information has surfaced regarding corruption in Russia’s nuclear industry3-4 and Russia’s nuclear dealings with India.5-7 The corruption associated with the abandoned Westinghouse nuclear power project in South Carolina is gradually coming to light.8 Corruption has been uncovered in the nuclear programs of South Africa9-15, Brazil16, Ukraine17 and, no doubt, elsewhere.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) noted in its 2015 Nuclear Technology Review that counterfeit, fraudulent and suspect items (CFSIs) “are becoming an increasing concern for operating organizations and regulators”18 And again in 2019, an IAEA report noted that CFSIs “are of increasing concern in the nuclear industry and generally throughout the industrial and commercial supply chains.”19 The 2019 report noted that CFSIs “can pose immediate and potential threats to worker safety, facility performance, the public and the environment, and they can negatively impact facility costs.”

 “Post-Soviet bloc geostrategic energy interests are central to both stories. The profound influence of organized crime in national energy policy, and on a transnational basis, is revealed in the Bulgarian and Russian cases. Suspicions are widespread and allegations common in the cases of India, Taiwan, and Bangladesh, but confirmed evidence remains weak.”

“The sequence of events that led to the station blackout began on 4 February 2012 when the management carried out a planned shutdown of the reactor for refuelling. On 9 February, the plant suffered a loss of power due to human error during a test of the main generator. After this, one of the two emergency diesel generators failed to start. The other generator was undergoing maintenance. In addition, the connection to one of the offsite auxiliary transformers failed to work as it had not been properly set up after maintenance; and the other offsite transformer was just entering maintenance. This caused a station blackout lasting 11 minutes 43 seconds. Cooling was lost for 11 minutes. The plant manager only reported the event to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission on 12 March, more than one month later. … The plant manager justified the decision not to report the blackout on the risk of loss of public confidence and of credibility of the plant with the management of the operating company.”

Not long after, a much broader pattern of corruption began to come to light:

“Investigations of 101 companies revealed a wide range of illegal activities including bribery, overpaying, preferential treatment and favouritism, limiting competition in bidding, accepting parts with fraudulent or even no certificate, and collusion by parties in the falsification of testing reports.”

An investigation by the Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety showed that 2,114 test reports had been falsified by material suppliers and equipment manufacturers; that a further 62 equipment qualification documents (environmental and seismic qualification) were falsified between 1996 and 2012; and that a further 3,408 test reports and 53 qualification reports could not be verified or were unclear.22,23 Over 7,000 reactor parts were replaced in the aftermath of the scandal.23

Andrews-Speed details the corruption that probably had the greatest consequences for reactor safety:22

[1] Nucleonics Week (2010) : No core catcher, double containment for UAE reactors, South Koreans say, April 22, 2010.

“A very special case of systematic counterfeiting came to light in May 2013 when it was revealed that safety-grade control cable installed in four reactors had been falsely certified. The supplier of the cable was a Korean company, JS Cable. In 2004, KHNP decided for the first time to purchase cable from a domestic rather than foreign supplier. JS Cable submitted a bid to KEPCO E&C, despite not having the capability to make cable to the required specifications. KHNP awarded the contract to JS Cable with the first delivery due in 2017, on the condition that the cable met the required standards.

An investigation by the Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety showed that 2,114 test reports had been falsified by material suppliers and equipment manufacturers; that a further 62 equipment qualification documents (environmental and seismic qualification) were falsified between 1996 and 2012; and that a further 3,408 test reports and 53 qualification reports could not be verified or were unclear.22,23 Over 7,000 reactor parts were replaced in the aftermath of the scandal.23

“JS Cable chose Saehan TEP to test the cable, but this firm lacked the capacity to undertake the required loss of coolant testing. So Saehan TEP outsourced the process to the Canadian testing firm, RCM Technologies (RCMT). RCMT tested six samples, but only one passed. JS Cable sent six further samples. Only two passed, but these two samples were illegitimate as they had not been exposed to radiation before testing. In response, KHNP instructed KEPCO E&C to make the test results acceptable. So KEPCO E&C, Saehan TEP and JS cable agreed together to modify the test reports from RCMT to show that all the samples met the required standards.”

The corruption also affected South Korea’s reactor construction project in the UAE. Hyundai Heavy Industries employees offered bribes to KHNP officials in charge of the supply of parts for reactors to be exported to the UAE.24 And ‒ incredibly ‒ the reactor contract was underpinned by a secret military side-agreement, signed without the knowledge or approval of South Korea’s National Assembly, and containing a clause that does not require approval from the National Assembly to engage in conflict, should there be a request for military assistance from the UAE.25-28 The pact includes a clause that would obligate South Korea to intervene militarily to protect the UAE in the event of a crisis, in addition to the deployment of South Korean special forces and the ongoing supply of military equipment.25

Structural problems

Andrews-Speed describes the interlinking elements of South Korea’s ‘nuclear mafia’ involving nuclear power companies, research centers, regulators, government, and educational institutions. He notes that the country’s nuclear industry possesses some special features that make it particularly prone to corruption, relating to the structure and governance of the industry, and its close links with the government.

Both KHNP and KEPCO E&C are monopolists in their fields, and both suffer from poor corporate governance and weak internal management:22

“The poor corporate governance has its roots in the way in which the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is directly involved in the management of KEPCO and its subsidiaries and in the political nature of appointments of many board members and senior managers. The weak internal management was particularly pertinent to safety because, before it was amended in 2014, the Act on Nuclear Safety and Security did not address the safety standards of parts and equipment. Thus, the selling of sub-standard components was not illegal and the task of supply chain oversight was left to KHNP to manage.”

Improvements and lingering problems

Andrews-Speed notes that the Kori-1 blackout and the systemic supply-chain corruption led to efforts to curb corruption. These included revisions to the Nuclear Safety Act giving greater powers to the newly created Nuclear Safety and Security Commission; placing new reporting obligations on all actors in the nuclear supply chain; and broader legislation and regulations governing public procurement, the conduct of public officials and corruption.

But it is doubtful whether these reforms are sufficient:22

“The principal obstacles to progress relate to power and structure. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission lacks the authority of nuclear regulators in some other countries for a number of reasons

First, after 2013 the status of the Commission Chair was reduced from Ministerial to Vice-Ministerial level and their reporting line was changed from the President to the Prime Minister. The reason for this change of status related more to the career mobility of civil servants than to the governance of nuclear safety. Nevertheless, the consequences for the authority of the Commission have been significant. It cannot now issue any regulations without the approval of the Ministry of Justice and other Ministries. This results in delay and occasional suppression of new regulations. In addition, it has been alleged that the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission redacts and sanitizes the safety reports of the Korea Institute Nuclear Safety. The consequences of this practice on safety are exacerbated by the ability of ministries, politicians and KEPCO subsidiaries to block the tough enforcement of safety standards.

“Second, the National Assembly provides little oversight of the Commission. Instead, authority lies solely with the government. Finally, the term of the Commission Chair is just three years which is shorter than that of the nation’s president which is five years. This contrasts with the situation in the USA, for example, where the Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is appointed for a five-year term, one year longer than that of the US President. As a result, Korean Presidents have significant influence over the nuclear regulator given their remit to appoint all nine members of the Commission. Taken together, these three factors enhance the power of the executive over the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

“The structural weaknesses within Korea’s nuclear industry are multiple. The Ministries of Finance and Strategy and of Trade, Industry and Energy exert excessive influence over state-owned enterprises, including KHNP and KEPCO E&C. These two corporations not only have strong monopolistic positions but KHNP combines the roles of constructor, owner and operator of nuclear power plants. In addition, KHNP exerts undue influence over KEPCO E&C. This strong triangular relationship between government and two monopolists persists today and forms the core of Korea’s ‘nuclear mafia’. Only radical structural and governance reform can address this fundamental weakness.

 “Further compounding factors include: the corporate culture of KEPCO and its subsidiaries that emphasizes the need for conformity; the weak culture of accountability that arises in part from the absence of a strong law providing for punitive damages; and the general standard of personal and corporate ethics in Korea.”

One indication of ongoing problems ‒ and efforts to resolve them ‒ was the awarding of ‘prize money’ to 14 whistleblowers in 2019 for reporting violations of nuclear or radiation safety laws to the Nuclear Safety and Security Committee.29

There were another six arrests related to nuclear corruption in 2018 ‒ an outcome that only scratched the surface of the problems according to a whistleblower.30

A recent example of violations of safety regulations occurred at the Hanbit-1 reactor on 10 May 2019. The reactor’s thermal output exceeded safety limits but was kept running for nearly 12 hours when it should have been shut down manually at once.31 In addition, the control rods were operated by a person who does not hold a Reactor Operator’s license.32

References: Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Korea | Leave a comment

Ohio a clear example of corporate power and dark money shaping public policy

What happened in Ohio is a clear example of corporate power combined with the growth of “dark money” organizations following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision to shape public policy decisions. The reasons why FirstEnergy engaged in such activities are not hard to guess. Any entity that invests so heavily in these dark money organizations, media strategies, lobbyists, and political contributions will be expecting a sizeable return on its investments. And indeed, it has been rewarded handsomely. The irony is that an industry that acknowledges that it is not economically competitive is spending massively on lobbying. It is the ratepayers and taxpayers who bear the cost of these twisted priorities.  

A dirty battle for a nuclear bailout in Ohio  https://thebulletin.org/2020/04/a-dirty-battle-for-a-nuclear-bailout-in-ohio/#    By Shakiba FadaieM. V. Ramana, April 21, 2020  Last July, Ohio’s governor signed House Bill 6 (HB6) to provide FirstEnergy (now Energy Harbor), a large electric utility, with subsidies of nearly $150 million per year to keep its Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants operating. Ohio is only the fifth US state to offer such subsidies; other states include New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Although the subsidies are justified by some as necessary for climate mitigation, in the latter four states, electricity generation from natural gas, which results in greenhouse gas emissions, has increased since 2017, when these subsidy programs started kicking in. Moreover, in Ohio, subsidies are also being extended to coal power plants, providing the clearest illustration that what underlies the push for subsidies to nuclear plants is not a result of a real commitment to climate mitigation but a way to use climate concerns to bolster the profits of some energy corporations.

The enormous lobbying effort that won the subsidies used dark money–backed organizations that spent millions of dollars to sway voters and politicians. But it didn’t stop with the bill being signed into law—the lobbying also thwarted the ability of citizens to put the proposal to a democratic vote through a referendum, including by funding television advertisements that falsely claimed that China was “intertwining themselves financially in our energy infrastructure” and threatening “national security,” implying that not going through with the nuclear bailout would somehow lead to Chinese control of Ohio’s power grid. As confronting climate change gets in the way of corporate profits, such dirty battles are sure to emerge more often.

Electricity economics. It has been known since the late 1970s that the cost of constructing nuclear plants in the United States is very high, but the cost gap between nuclear electricity and other alternatives has increased dramatically in the last decade. In its most recent estimate, the Wall Street firm Lazard estimated that a new nuclear plant will generate electricity at an average cost of $155 per megawatt hour, nearly four times the corresponding estimates of around $40 per megawatt hour each for new wind and solar energy plants. The average cost for natural gas plants is $56 per megawatt hour.

The gap will only grow larger. While the costs of nuclear power have been increasing, the costs of wind and solar power have declined by around 70 to 90 percent in the last decade. Even solar projects that offer some amount of storage to meet demand when the sun no longer shines are becoming cheaper. Last year, the city of Los Angeles signed such a contract at $33 per megawatt hour. So new nuclear power plants are simply not competitive in the US electricity market.

But what about already operating nuclear plants, those that don’t have to worry about borrowing money for construction or repaying the money they have already borrowed? Herein lies the real cost problem for electric utilities that own nuclear plants. For each megawatt hour of electricity generated in 2019, the average nuclear power plant in the United States spent $30.42 on fuel, repairs and maintenance, and wages; some spent much more. Those costs are comparable to the overall generation costs (including the cost of construction) of solar and wind power listed above.

Renewable energy plants, of course, cost very little to operate since they don’t need any fuel. Thus, already existing renewable plants will remain far cheaper than nuclear plants. With natural gas plants, the comparison with nuclear plants depends on the cost of natural gas; thanks to fracking, for the last many years, natural gas plants have also lowered their operational costs to way below that of nuclear reactors.

The net result is that nuclear electricity is no longer competitive, and that is a problem for utilities that operate in states where electricity is traded on the market. (Other states, where a state regulator approves electricity projects, allow utilities to pass on the high costs of nuclear power to rate payers.) The number of nuclear plants this trend affects is quite large. In 2018, Bloomberg analysts estimated that “more than one quarter of all nuclear plants don’t make enough money to cover their operating costs.”

Political games. This state of affairs has led electric utilities in various states to try and get taxpayers and ratepayers to pay more to keep up their profits. Ohio’s FirstEnergy started early, in 2014, when it asked Ohio regulators to allow its distribution utilities to enter into agreements to purchase the outputs of its coal and nuclear plants at a set price that significantly exceeded wholesale electricity market prices. Ohio ratepayers would end up paying for electricity from these plants even if the distribution companies could have purchased electricity from other providers at cheaper prices. The proposal was approved in 2016, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission blocked the deal because it would have been unfair to consumers.

Since then, FirstEnergy has regularly tried to get subsidies in one form or another—until it succeeded in 2019 with HB6. In summary, that bill forces electricity consumers in Ohio to pay a surcharge on their monthly bills, and the resulting amounts go to subsidizing two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy—Perry and Davis-Besse—and two coal-fired plants owned by Ohio Valley Electricity Corporation. The bill also weakens (and will eventually gut) Ohio’s requirements for a minimum amount of electricity to be provided by renewable sources and reduces its targets for improving energy efficiency.

There has been a recent history of growth of renewables in Ohio, albeit from a pitifully low base. According to the US Energy Information Administration, between 2011 and 2017, Ohio’s wind and solar production grew by factors of 7.6 and 4.3 respectively. The reasons for this growth presumably have to do with the economic factors mentioned earlier. Likewise, energy efficiency programs saved twice as much as was spent on implementing them, and were projected to save $4 billion over 10 years. An increase in renewable energy production combined with energy efficiency improvements was shown to be the most economical way to reduce Ohio’s emissions by over 30 percent between 2012 and 2030 as part of the 2014 proposed Clean Power Plan of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

What do those in favor of the bill say? The arguments being used by pro-nuclear groups can be categorized into two sets of claims: economic and environmental.  The environmental argument is that nuclear power is a clean power source and a source of “clean air,” a claim made by, for example, Judd Gregg, former governor and senator from the state of New Hampshire and a member of the advocacy council of Nuclear Matters. The problem with that argument is two-fold. First, it does not explain why the bill would support the continued operation of old coal power plants. Second, it doesn’t fit well with the fact that renewables and energy efficiency are far cheaper sources of clean air, and this bill guts both of those.

The economic argument has to do with the fact that nuclear power plants are a source of employment among those communities living near the facilities. When they are shut down, those jobs would obviously disappear. Naturally, some labor unions, those with many members working in the nuclear industry, supported the bill. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers website, for example, proudly announced that its “activists have been hard at work, pressing representatives from both political parties to support this job-saving bill and urging all of their Buckeye State brothers and sisters to do the same,” with a union official going on to offer the tip: “No form letters or petitions, but one-on-one contact with the people that vote for them… It’s the personal touch that works.”

But, as with the environmental argument, the economic argument is dubious. The Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants employ an estimated 700 workers each. Even generous estimates that include “additional  jobs … that result from the overall economic boost associated with lower electricity prices and more in-state production” assert that the two plants create a combined 4,270 jobs. While these claims don’t square with the higher electricity costs that drive the need for subsidies, even these figures are just a fraction of the “over 81,000 workers” employed in the energy efficiency sector in the state.

More to the point, the number of jobs at these nuclear plants is very small when viewed in the context of the millions of dollars offered as subsidies to FirstEnergy, which, if invested in other energy resources, would create work for many more people. Per unit of electricity generated, nuclear power creates somewhere between one-half and one-sixth the number of jobs created by solar photovoltaic electricity. Because solar energy costs much less to install or generate, nuclear power employs even fewer on a per dollar basis.

The big fight. None of these arguments is exactly rocket science, and the fact that HB6 amounted to a corporate bailout was clear to many. Coalitions of Ohio companies, the state’s manufacturers’ association, environmental groups, and economists testified against the bill. A consumer group ran targeted radio advertisements pointing out how the bill was intended “to subsidize FirstEnergy’s failing investments.” All to no avail.

FirstEnergy’s lobbying power was overwhelming. Politicians were targeted directly and were offered campaign contributions. FirstEnergy and a political action committee they created contributed millions to political candidates and parties in Ohio. Although the details remain murky, much of the funding is documented by two main sources: state and federal campaign-finance filings and records from bankruptcy proceedings that FirstEnergy had entered into. Among the more egregious examples of this funding was the use of payroll deductions from FirstEnergy’s roughly 15,000 employees to raise and pay nearly a million dollars in political contributions between 2017 and 2019, most of it going to Republicans. The effort also included at least $9.5 million in television advertisements, much of which came from a dark money group. There is evidence, however, that FirstEnergy paid at least $1.9 million to this group. 

Although Republicans received the majority of the financial contributions, Democrats were also recipients, and therefore support for (and opposition to) the bill was not strictly along party lines. On the Democratic side, those who supported the bill typically cited “a desire to retain union jobs at the endangered plants.” On the other side of the aisle, those Republicans who opposed it invoked problems with subsidies in general.

The raw political and economic power of the industry was on display even after the bill was passed. Having been defeated within the legislature, grassroots organizations such as Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts and Ohio Consumers Power Alliance took to the streets and tried to collect signatures on a petition calling for a referendum question about HB6 to be included in the 2020 elections. It was a tough task, since those opposing the bailout had less than two months to gather over a quarter of a million valid signatures.

FirstEnergy tried to stop them with a two-pronged approach. The first was a legal trick. It went to the state’s supreme court and argued that the monthly charges on customers “should be considered tax increases, which cannot be challenged by a referendum.” But the court dismissed the case, saying there was “no ‘justiciable controversy’ for it to decide.” For the main part, though, the response from FirstEnergy and other beneficiaries was more of the same: dark money–backed organizations spending millions to undo the grassroots efforts by urging voters to refuse signing the petition.

Among these organizations was one called Ohioans for Energy Security, which sponsored television advertisements that falsely claimed that China is “intertwining themselves financially in our energy infrastructure,” threatening “national security,” and implying that not going through with the bailout campaign would lead to Chinese control of Ohio’s power grid. The watchdog organization Energy and Policy Institute quickly identified that some of the people featured in the TV advertisement were in fact FirstEnergy employees. In other words, there was reason to suspect that FirstEnergy was behind the advertisement. Ohioans for Energy Security also mailed thousands of letters to state residents with bold lettering behind a Chinese flag imploring, “Don’t give the Chinese government your personal information.” The hyperbolic allegations about China apparently are connected to natural gas-fired power plants in Ohio that were partially financed by a Chinese government-owned bank, although FirstEnergy has itself borrowed money from the same bank.

There were also accusations that the law’s supporters were trying to buy off circulators and take their petitions. Another front group, Protect Ohio Clean Energy Jobs, whose spokesperson was registered as a lobbyist for FirstEnergy Solutions, used “targeted ads on social media” to urge people who had already signed the referendum petition to withdraw their names.

The point of all these actions by FirstEnergy and its front or allied organizations was to dissuade voters from participating—and they succeeded. In October of last year, Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts announced that it would not file the referendum petition, and HB6 went into effect.

Lessons. What happened in Ohio is a clear example of corporate power combined with the growth of “dark money” organizations following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision to shape public policy decisions. The reasons why FirstEnergy engaged in such activities are not hard to guess. Any entity that invests so heavily in these dark money organizations, media strategies, lobbyists, and political contributions will be expecting a sizeable return on its investments. And indeed, it has been rewarded handsomely. The irony is that an industry that acknowledges that it is not economically competitive is spending massively on lobbying. It is the ratepayers and taxpayers who bear the cost of these twisted priorities.  

Although they have not been so egregious in their strategies and the energy and environmental policy outcomes have not been so detrimental, electricity utilities in New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut have also pursued profits at a financial cost to customers. As in the case of Ohio, the concerned electricity utilities all have investments in fossil fueled plants as well, and they have a vested interest in maintaining those plants for as long as possible.

Adding up all the bailouts to utilities with nuclear plants in the five aforementioned states would result in roughly $15 billion going from consumers to these corporations over the next several years. Although such a sum might seem small when compared to the much larger bailouts that have been paid out in the aftermath of the economic crashes in 2008 and 2020, it is nevertheless a large amount of money within the electricity sector. More important, the funds go to maintaining the profits of large energy corporations, often under the guise of climate mitigation, but without delivering the real and rapid reductions of emissions that are urgently needed.

Climate change is a serious concern, and finding ways of rewarding electric utilities for maintaining the status quo is not the way to tackle it. Even worse, by diverting much-needed resources and investment away from renewables and related technologies, these subsidies undermine efforts to decarbonize the electricity sector and further entrench companies that invest in high-risk energy sources, be they nuclear or fossil-fueled.

December 29, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, employment, politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Former SCANA CEO to plead guilty on another charge for failed nuclear plant project

Former SCANA CEO to plead guilty on another charge for failed nuclear plant project,  https://abcnews4.com/news/local/former-scana-ceo-to-plead-guilty-on-another-charge-for-failed-nuclear-plant-project    by Tony Fortier-Bensen, Thursday, December 24th 2020,   COLUMBIA, SC (WCIV) 


 

The former CEO of SCANA will plead guilty to a third charge on Tuesday related to fraud charges for the failed V.C. Summer project in Fairfield County.

S.C. Attorney Peter McCoy Jr. announced in a press release that Kevin Marsh would plead guilty on Tuesday, Dec. 29 in federal court to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

In late November, Marsh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obtaining false property by false pretenses.

According to that plea agreement, Marsh could serve 18 to 36 months and must pay $5 million in restitution.

His plea agreement for the third charge has not been announced.

Marsh has a hearing scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in federal court, and following that plea, he is scheduled for another hearing on a state charge at noon on the same day.

In June, retired SCANA chief operating officer Steve Byrne entered a guilty plea for his actions in relation to the failed nuclear power plant.

The U.S Attorney’s office alleges Byrne and Marsh conspired with other SCANA executives to deceive state and federal government overseers, stock holders and power customers in order to keep funding coming in to build two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.

The expansion project cost Santee-Cooper and the defunct South Carolina Electric & Gas over $9 billion before the two entities abandoned the project in July 2017.

December 24, 2020 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Unacceptable secrecy by the nuclear industry in Sizewell documentation

December 24, 2020 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Ohio House Fails To Take Any Action On Nuclear Bailout Law.

Ohio House Fails To Take Any Action On Nuclear Bailout Law, WOSU Radio, By ANDY CHOW 24 Dec 20• Ohio House Republican leadership says 2020 will end without  a vote on any proposal to change HB6. With no delays or repeal, the law stays in place despite being connected to the largest alleged bribery scandal in Ohio history.

When it comes to HB6, the nuclear bailout law connected to a racketeering investigation, House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) has gone from saying the House will find a way to repeal and/or replace the law, to wanting more discussion on the issue, to saying the House ran out of time to come to a consensus.

That was in the span of five months. Now it appears the House will finish the legislative session without making a single change to HB6……….

In their lawsuit, the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati argued that HB6 amounted to an unconstitutional lending of state credit to a private entity. https://radio.wosu.org/post/ohio-house-fails-take-any-action-nuclear-bailout-law#stream/0

December 24, 2020 Posted by | legal, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons agency updates Congress on hacking attempt

December 24, 2020 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Following huge bribery scandal, Energy Harbor still manipulating to keep nuclear bailout law

Energy Harbor seeks option of turning down HB6 nuclear bailout money, Cleveland.com  Dec 21, 2020;   Ohio. Energy Harbor is lobbying for Ohio lawmakers to let it choose whether it should be eligible for House Bill 6 nuclear bailout money,

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Energy Harbor is lobbying for state lawmakers to allow it to decide whether to accept more than $1 billion in House Bill 6 bailout money for its two nuclear power plants because a federal regulatory ruling might otherwise make the subsidies a liability, according to a top lawmaker.

It’s still unclear whether legislators will agree to the proposal, which is being crafted by House Majority Leader Bill Seitz, or whether they will pass any reforms to HB6 at all on Tuesday, expected to be the final day of the current legislative session.But it shows that Energy Harbor, a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy, is working behind the scenes to influence what reforms might be made to HB6, which is at the center of what authorities say is the largest bribery scheme in Ohio history. Federal authorities say $60 million in FirstEnergy bribery money was used to pass the law and keep it on the books.

Under the 2019 law, Energy Harbor’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants are set to get $150 million per year from ratepayers from 2021 until 2027. Energy Harbor officials have said without the bailout, they will have to close the plants, though they’ve offered no financial data to back their claims.

But after the HB6 scandal broke last summer, GOP lawmakers have been working on possible changes to the law — including requiring yearly audits to see how much money the nuclear plants need to break even, then adjusting accordingly the amount of subsidies paid to Energy Harbor.

The reason Energy Harbor might not want the money is that late last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that power generation companies that receive state subsidies (like the ones offered by HB6) can only sell their electricity in the region’s long-term, regional capacity market at a higher rate that what they would otherwise be able to charge. This “minimum offer price rule” would likely make it much harder for Energy Harbor to sell electricity from the two nuclear plants………..

House and Senate leaders are still working to craft an HB6 reform plan that has the votes to pass both chambers. The main reform plan, House Bill 798, would delay the start of the bailout until 2022 to provide time for an audit to be conducted.

When asked whether lawmakers were close to a deal, Seitz said, “That’s kind of above my pay grade.”

But if an HB6 reform proposal does move forward, Seitz said lawmakers critical of HB6 will have “a binary choice” to make.
“For those of you that would like to repeal House Bill 6 or would like to do other things with House Bill 6,” Seitz said, “Well, your choice is this or let House Bill 6 continue.”
State Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat, criticized the proposal in a statement.

“Energy Harbor is a corporation under investigation for orchestrating the largest bribery scandal in Ohio history,” Leland said, “and now Republicans want to let it decide whether to take $1.3 billion straight out of the pockets of everyday Ohioans.” https://www.cleveland.com/open/2020/12/energy-harbor-seeks-option-of-turning-down-hb6-nuclear-bailout-money.html

December 22, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Legal, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

The real reason for “civil” Small Nuclear Reactors- to supply expertise and technology for the nuclear weapons industry

December 21, 2020 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian environmental defenders under attack

Russian environmental defenders under attack,   https://foeasiapacific.org/2020/12/16/russian-environmental-defenders-under-attack/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=russian-environmental-defenders-under-attack

December 16, 2020,   In 2020, the Russian Social-Ecological Union / Friends of the Earth Russia recorded at least 154 episodes of pressure on 429 environmental activists in 25 regions of Russia. One activist died, 15 received injuries of varying severity, 13 criminal cases were initiated or continued, and more than 250 administrative cases were filed. RSEU has been monitoring and documenting violations against environmental human rights defenders since 2012. Their work advocates for free access to environmental information, broad public participation in solving environmentally significant issues, and an end to pressure on environmental defenders. In 2021, RSEU will continue to fight for solutions to environmental problems and seek protection for environmental defenders.

For future updates follow RSEU on facebook.

For more information contact:
Vitaly Servetnik,
Russian Social-Ecological Union / Friends of the Earth Russia
Email: vitservetnik@gmail.com

 

Program Area: Environmental Human Rights Defenders
Member Group: Russian Social Ecological Union (RSEU)

December 21, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment