PNN - 11/23/14
Nicky & Debbie Orta 7:15 - 8:05pm
Tony Sinatra 8:06 - 8:55pm
1. FLORIDA NUCLEAR PLANT FLOODING… OOPS!
ST. LUCIE COUNTY — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is stepping up oversight of one of two units at Florida Power & Light Co.’s St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant after about 50,000 gallons of water entered a reactor auxiliary building during heavy rains in January, according to the NRC.
The incident at the nuclear plant on Hutchinson Island occurred Jan. 9, when more than 7 inches of rain fell on the site, a report states. A blocked storm drain system played a role.
“During the event, stormwater entered the reactor auxiliary building … through degraded electrical conduits that were later found not to have internal flood seals,” a report states.
Both units were operating at 100 percent at the time.
By comparison, 50,000 gallons is about the amount held by a 25-by-45-foot swimming pool with an average depth of 6 feet.
The finding was described as being “of low to moderate safety significance.”
On a color-coded scale of green, white, yellow and red, with red being the most significant and green the least, this classified as white.
FPL didn’t argue with the significance of the findings, and agreed to make corrections.
Joey Ledford, NRC public affairs officer, said the auxiliary building houses safety-related equipment. He described it as equipment, such as pumps and valves, important to safely shut down the reactor in the event of an accident.
“Fifty thousand gallons of water sounds like an immense amount, and it is a pretty large amount, but none of the safety equipment was damaged,” Ledford said.
Greg Brostowicz, FPL spokesman, said the issue didn’t present any risk to the health and safety of workers or the public.
“In an abundance of caution, in some areas we’ve gone so far as to protect to twice the height of the flooding protection required,” he said.
The NRC also found a violation related to failing to provide “complete and accurate information on the condition of the flood barriers at St. Lucie,” a release states.
Ledford, who said two NRC inspectors are at the St. Lucie plant, said that after the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, the NRC “issued a number of orders and requests for more information.”
“One of the things that St. Lucie and other plants were asked to do, was to assess their plants’ ability to handle floods, as well as other events like seismic (events),” he said. “In their walk downs and their inspection, they should have identified this problem before this happened, and they did not.”
Ledford said the stepped-up oversight means additional inspections “until they return to normal oversight in a period to be determined.”
Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
2. GERRYMANDERING CONSULTANTS NO LONGER ABLE TO SHEILD
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — After a bitter legal tussle that has veered between federal and state courts, hundreds of pages of documents and emails that could expose the role that Republican consultants played in drawing new Florida congressional districts will likely finally be made public.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday turned down an emergency request from a GOP consultant to block the release of documents from Florida's redistricting process. The Florida Supreme Court has already ordered the unsealing of the documents on Dec. 1.
Pat Bainter and his Gainesville-based firm Data Targeting had filed an emergency petition to Thomas asking that the documents remain sealed until at least February.
But Thomas, who is responsible for handling emergency appeals from Florida, turned down the request without comment on Friday.
A circuit judge cited the 538 pages of documents and emails as one reason why he ruled this summer that the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature violated voter approved standards that say congressional districts cannot be drawn to favor any political party or incumbent.
Bainter's lawyers maintained release of the documents would violate his First Amendment rights as well as trade secrets. But the state Supreme Court rejected that argument, pointing out that Bainter had engaged "gamesmanship" and had waited until the last moment to assert that releasing the documents would violate First Amendment rights. The high court ruling noted that at one point Bainter had maintained he had no real role in redistricting and that he had an "after the fact interest."
Media organizations, including The Associated Press, had asked in a friend of the court brief for the documents to be released.
Lawyers who represented the groups challenging the districts said the records will reveal the "shadow process" they said existed between the consultants and legislators to violate the "Fair Districts" standards adopted by voters in 2010.
Judge Terry Lewis in July agreed there was enough evidence to show that consultants helped manipulate the process and ruled that two districts were invalid. Legislators in August adopted a new map that alters seven of the state's existing 27 districts and shifts nearly 400,000 voters in central and north Florida. Those changes, however, will not take effect until the 2016 elections.
A previous version of this story stated the entire U.S. Supreme Court turned down the request. The request was turned down by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
3. texas regulation (fail)
Four workers died at DuPont's chemical plant in La Porte after being exposed to a chemical called methyl mercaptan. Federal and state officials have launched an investigation. Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in La Porte. ( Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle )
4. Japan's nuclear cleanup stymied by water woes
OKUMA, Japan (AP) - More than three years into the massive cleanup of Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant, only a tiny fraction of the workers are focused on key tasks such as preparing for the dismantling of the broken reactors and removing radioactive fuel rods.
Instead, nearly all the workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant are devoted to an enormously distracting problem: a still-growing amount of contaminated water used to keep the damaged reactors from overheating. The amount has been swelled further by groundwater entering the reactor buildings.
Hundreds of huge blue and gray tanks to store the radioactive water, and buildings holding water treatment equipment are rapidly taking over the plant, where the cores of three reactors melted following a 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Workers were building more tanks during a visit to the complex Wednesday by foreign media, including The Associated Press.
"The contaminated water is a most pressing issue that we must tackle. There is no doubt about that," said Akira Ono, head of the plant. "Our effort to mitigate the problem is at its peak now. Though I cannot say exactly when, I hope things start getting better when the measures start taking effect."
The numbers tell the story.
Every day, about 6,000 workers pass through the guarded gate of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on the Pacific coast - two to three times more than when it was actually producing electricity.
On a recent work day, about 100 workers were dismantling a makeshift roof over one of the reactor buildings, and about a dozen others were removing fuel rods from a cooling pool. Most of the rest were dealing with the contaminated water, said Tatsuhiro Yamagishi, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, the utility that owns the plant.
The work threatens to exhaust the supply of workers for other tasks, since employees must stop working when they reach annual radiation exposure limits. Experts say it is crucial to reduce the amount and radioactivity of the contaminated water to decrease the risk of exposure to workers and the environmental impact before the decommissioning work gets closer to the highly contaminated core areas.
5. Strong Earthquake strikes japan
A strong earthquake in the mountainous area of central Japan that hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics destroyed more than half a dozen homes in a ski resort town and injured at least 30 people, officials said.
The magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck Saturday near Nagano city shortly after 10 p.m. (1300 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometres, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake's magnitude at 6.2. Since the quake occurred inland, there was no possibility of a tsunami.
Ryo Nishino, a restaurant owner in Hakuba, a ski town west of Nagano, told Japanese broadcaster NHK that he had "never experienced a quake that shook so hard. The sideways shaking was enormous." He said he was in the restaurant's wine cellar when the quake struck, and that nothing broke there.
Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/strong-quake-strikes-japan-collapsing-7-homes-and-injuring-30-1.2114427#ixzz3JwCq8S00
6. Ferguson police email deletion and search questioned
ST. LOUIS - For the past weeks, 5 On Your Side Investigates has been pouring through more than 2,000 pages of Sunshine Law requests concerning Ferguson, looking for information you haven't heard before.
Missouri has a public records law – the "Sunshine Law" -- so you can find out what public officials are doing – and how your tax dollars are being spent.
5 On Your Side is trying to examine what local officials were saying to each other in emails after the shooting in Ferguson.
The documents we've uncovered raise new questions about what has – and has not been released.
It's something concerned citizens have wondered about since the day Michael Brown died.
Would emails between Ferguson police and other officials shed any light on the shooting, the protests, law enforcement and National Guard reaction?
We reviewed copies of open records requests from reporters and private citizens across the country, and around the world, that flooded Ferguson in the days and weeks after the shooting.
Many of them asking for those emails.
But one request stands out, from a reporter whose name may forever be associated with Ferguson's open records searches, Jason Leopold.
"I wanted every officer's inbox to be searched," Leopold said in an interview with 5 On Your Side. "I had assumed all the email boxes were searched."
Leopold, with the international online news channel Vice News filed, an open records request asking for "any and all emails" police sent about Brown and the protests in the five weeks that followed.
He made national headlines when he had to pay $1200 for the search which produced seven email exchanges he published.
That's right, just seven emails, in more than a month.
When we asked about the city's search procedures, Ferguson's city manager issued a statement.
"The City has instructed the contractor to search all emails on the system," said Ferguson City Manager John Shaw. "Including deleted emails for the keywords provided by the requester."
But we started asking more questions when we discovered a report on the email search.
It's from Acumen Consulting, the St. Louis-based company the city hired to do the email search.
One line describes the search process.
"Per City of Ferguson policy, it is assumed at this time that no one has violated the 'no email deletions' policy," the document sent by Acumen to Ferguson says.
What's that mean? Two computer experts we consulted called it unusual.
"This does not appear to be a thorough search," said Minneapolis based cyber-security expert Mark Lanterman.
Lanterman says although the consultant may have searched for some deleted emails, the only comprehensive way to do a search is to look for deleted – and purged deleted - emails, too.
That's because even after you hit delete – and clean out your trash box – they sometimes survive deep in a computer's memory.
But if you check the email search contract, there is a section called "Assumptions and Conditions."
The "Assumptions and Conditions" clause from Acumen states: "It is our understanding that no one has intentionally deleted or purged email."
St. Louis computer expert Vinnie Troia says making an assumption like that is like putting blinders on the search, and in his professional opinion, the Ferguson email search was not complete.
"It isn't," Troia said. "As you're looking at a forensic process, the first thing you're looking at is deleted items."
No one knows for sure whether there were any deleted emails, but it raises the possibility that a hidden pool of them went undetected, a possibility Vice News' Leopold said Ferguson officials didn't explain, and that he didn't know until 5 On Your Side contacted him.
"No, no idea at all," Leopold said. "I'm absolutely suspicious about what was deleted in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death."
And when you read the consultant's report carefully, you discover even he thought additional searches could have been done.
"It is possible to perform a 'per computer deleted item search,'" the consultant told Ferguson officials it would "require 30 minutes per computer request."
The report goes on…
"Per our discussion regarding budget control, I have stopped the search at five hours and am presenting the results," Acumen said in its final report to Ferguson officials on the search.
That has the reporter who paid big bucks for what he thought was a complete search – wondering:
"I do believe there is a smoking gun out there someplace and it's likely in someone's trashbin," Leopold said. "I'm outraged, and I think the public should be as well."
We contacted the consultant, Acumen, multiple times trying to get clarification about all of this. No one responded, but no one has suggested the consultant is a fault.
Without a complete search, experts say there is no way to know whether there are any deleted emails.
To find out, 5 On Your Side Investigates filed an open records request for every deleted Ferguson email since August.
The city wants a down payment of $500 before they start. We'll let you know what we discover.
WE ASSUME NO ONE HAS VIOLATED THE erased the NO EMAIL DELETIONS
ASSUMPTIONS AND CONDITIONED
no one has "intentionally" deleted or purged any emails.
stopped at 5 hours.
FROM CLG NEWS
New secret authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions 21 Nov 2014 President Obama signed a secret order in recent weeks authorizing a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year. In an announcement in the White House Rose Garden in May, Mr. Obama said that the American military would have no combat role in Afghanistan next year, and that the missions for the 9,800 troops remaining in the country would be limited to training Afghan forces and to hunting the "remnants of Al Qaeda [al-CIAduh]." But Mr. Obama's secret order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision.
White House, C.I.A. Working Together to Thwart Release of Agency's Torture Report - Senate Democrats 21 Nov 2014 In a tense confrontation with President Obama's closest adviser on Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats accused the White House of trying to censor significant details in a voluminous report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency. During a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill with Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, the senators said that the White House was siding with the C.I.A. and trying to thwart negotiations over the report's release. The negotiations have dragged on for months because of a dispute over the C.I.A.'s demand that pseudonyms of agency officers [war criminals] be deleted from the report. The C.I.A., supported by the White House, has argued that even without using the real names of the officers, their identities could still be revealed.
CIA wants to destroy thousands of internal emails covering spy operations and other activities 20 Nov 2014 A CIA plan to erase tens of thousands of its internal emails -- including those sent by virtually all covert and counterterrorism officers after they leave the agency -- is drawing fire from Senate Intelligence Committee members concerned that it would wipe out key records of some of the agency's most controversial operations [aka war crimes; torture; the 9/11 inside job; creation and perpetuation of al-CIAduh and I-CIA-SIS]. The agency proposal, which has been tentatively approved by the National Archives, "could allow for the destruction of crucial documentary evidence regarding the CIA's activities," Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and ranking minority member Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., wrote in a letter to Margaret Hawkins, the director of records and management services at the archives.
Utah Considers Cutting Off Water to the NSA's Monster Data Center 20 Nov 2014 The legislation, proposed by Utah lawmaker Marc Roberts (R), is due to go to the floor of the Utah House of Representatives early next year, but it was debated in a Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee meeting on Wednesday. The bill, H.B. 161, directs municipalities like Bluffdale to "refuse support to any federal agency which collects electronic data within this state." Lawmakers are considering a bill that would shut off the water spigot to the massive data center operated by the National Security Agency in Bluffdale, Utah.