Policy & Enforcement Briefing: NRC Safety Rules, BP Settles, UK Offshore Wind, Vermont Landfill Bill

by | Mar 5, 2012

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has voted to issue the first new safety rules since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2001, according to agency filings. The proposed orders call for all U.S. nuclear operators to develop plans for extreme situations that could affect multiple reactors operating at a single site, to improve instrumentation in spent-fuel storage pools, and address design concerns at U.S. plants similar to Japan’s Daiichi nuclear plants. Reuters said.

BP has reached a $7.8 billion deal with businesses and individuals suing over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, ahead of today’s scheduled trial start. The settlement is expected to speed up compensation for thousands of victims, who would be divided into two categories: economic loss claims and medical claims. BP still faces claims by the U.S. government, and several states, Reuters said.

UK energy regulator Ofgem and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have published a Renewable Energy Roadmap report suggesting that by 2020, between 11 and 18GW of wind farm capacity could be built off Britain’s coast, compared to 1.6GW now. The report said that regulatory changes to establish interlinked connections could reduce the cost of offshore connections by 8-15 percent, for a savings of up to £3.5 billion ($5.5b).

The House of Representatives approves a bill that overrides California’s environmental protections and changes federal irrigation policy. The bill, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, is expected not to pass in Senate, and its measures kill a settlement that has launched river restoration projects to revive salmon runs, and end fish protections in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta dating back to a 1994 agreement between the state and federal government, the Los Angeles Times said.

PJM Interconnection (PJM) is asking the FERC to approve changes to the way it processes its generation interconnection queue. The grid operator plans three main reforms to its current process: extending the time for each queue cycle from three months to six months, revising provisions concerning modifications of interconnection requests for projects that seek to reduce size beyond a specified amount, and an alternate queue process for projects of 20 MW or less, writes TransmissionHub.

The Vermont House of Representatives gave preliminary approval on a ban of certain recyclable materials from landfills. House Bill 485 would ban batteries from landfills immediately, recyclable materials including plastic and glass containers, cardboard, paper and other products by July 2015, yard waste by July 2016, and all organic materials by July 2020, writes Waste & Recycling News.

The EPA has proposed a $16.4 million plan to clean up sediment, soil and debris in streams near lagoons that stored industrial wastewater at the Universal Oil Products Superfund site in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Honeywell, who acquired the site through a merger in 1999, has agreed to pay for and perform the cleanup work, which includes mercury, PCBs and other pollutants, the EPA said.

Alameda County, Calif., Board of Supervisors has proposed that manufacturers and producers of drugs finance and operate the collection of unused prescription and OTC medications to prevent the medications from entering the drinking water supply. Bay Area counties already operate drop-off boxes in several cities, and Alameda County citizens returned roughly 4,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals, writes The Oakland Tribune.

Wilbur-Ellis Company, an agricultural products distributor located in Hood River, Oregon, has reached a settlement with the EPA in relation to alleged violations of federal labeling requirements for pesticides. The company has agreed to pay a $50,320 fine and committed to revising its labeling practices, the EPA said.

Armstrong Environmental Services (AES) will pay $35,000 in penalties over alleged Clean Water Act violations at the company’s waste processing and disposal facility in Lancaster, Pa. The EPA’s complaint alleged AES exceeded its pretreatment permit discharge limits for pollutants oil and grease, pH and copper over five years.

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