Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Barrick $16m Fine, Edison ‘Misled Regulators’

by | May 29, 2013

Southern California Edison willfully misled the public and regulators to avoid a full safety review of its redesigned San Onofre nuclear power plant in California, according to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Boxer published correspondence between Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which she said presents major new evidence of misrepresentation and safety lapses by Edison. She plans to provide the correspondence to federal and state officials. The plant has been shut since down since the discovery of a leak and tube damage in January 2012.

Chile’s Superintendent of the Environment (SMA) has imposed its maximum fine – $16 million – on Barrick Gold, after finding that the company committed “very serious” violations of its environmental permits for the $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama mine, on the Chile-Argentina border. SMA says Barrick failed to build some of the water containment systems it promised, Canadian Mining Journal reports. Work on the Chilean side of the project stopped in April after groundwater contamination complaints from indigenous groups, and later a court found unacceptable concentrations of arsenic, aluminum, copper, and sulphates in the groundwater.

The European Food Safety Authority has added the BASF insecticide fipronil to a list of agricultural chemicals it suspects of contributing to bee decline, saying the product poses an “acute risk to honeybees when used as a seed treatment for maize.” The European Commission will discuss a possible ban with EU officials in July, Reuters reports.

The EPA is extending the public comment period on its proposed Tier 3 low-sulfur gasoline rules, by 18 days to July 1, The Hill reports. The agency announced the rules in March and published them in the Federal Register last week.

Solar panel trade talks between the EU and China ended in accusations, the New York Times reports. China’s chief international trade representative, Zhong Shao, denounced the European Commission for failing to reach a deal. Europe said China was pressuring individual countries, preventing the continent from reaching a consensus. Germany is backing China‘s fight against solar tariffs.

All nations should next year outline post-2020 plans for cutting greenhouse gases, the EU proposed on Tuesday, offering an earlier date than that favored by Washington. Almost 200 countries agreed in 2011 to form a UN pact for the long-term cuts by the end  of 2015, though they did not yet assign targets to individual nations, Reuters reported.

The D.C. Circuit said it doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear Sunflower Electric Power Corp.‘s appeal of a district court finding against the utility’s expansion of a Kansas coal-fired plant, according to Law360. The Sierra Club alleged that the US Department of Agriculture failed to prepare an environmental impact statement before approving and giving financial backing to the plant. 

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