Atomic Histories & Nuclear Testing
See below for articles related to developing reports of several serious scandals and other fiascos that occurred at multiple nuclear facilities over the course of 2020
“We need to hit the reset button and start from scratch here,” state Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D., Parma) said. “We can’t continue this nonsense of pretending that the corruption didn’t happen.”
COLUMBUS — A House committee Tuesday set the stage for a full chamber vote to partly repeal provisions of a state law at the heart of a $61 million Ohio Statehouse bribery scandal.
The full Ohio House of Representatives was expected to vote Wednesday.
This would mark the House’s first action to undo a $1 billion, consumer-financed bailout of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Oak Harbor and the Perry plant east of Cleveland. That law has come to epitomize shady, backroom dealing hidden even to those lawmakers ultimately manipulated to get it passed.
Two players and a nonprofit, dark-money corporation have already pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges carrying up 20 years in prison for the individuals. Three others — including former House Speaker Larry Householder (R., Glenford) — face similar charges.
Tom Clements, an environmental activist who criticized the nuclear project even before its abandonment, noticed and shouted a question as the former SCANA executive walked past. “Mr. Marsh, are you going to apologize to the people of South Carolina for this nuclear nightmare?”
COLUMBIA — Former SCANA Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh will spend at least two years in prison and pay back at least $5 million for defrauding electric ratepayers in South Carolina’s $9 billion nuclear power fiasco, according to a plea deal that was presented to a federal judge Feb. 24.
The 65-year-old Marsh appeared in court for the first time to plead guilty to fraud charges and formally accept responsibility for his role in the failed, decade-long expansion of SCANA’s V.C. Summer nuclear power plant in Fairfield County. Marsh had to surrender his passport at the courthouse but was released without having to post money for bond.
Once one of South Carolina’s top businessmen, Marsh has spent the past six months as a criminal informant and will continue to be a key witness for state and federal prosecutors who continue to probe the V.C. Summer project’s failure. He faces up to 10 years in prison if he does not fully cooperate with that investigation, according to the new terms of his plea deal.
“Justice has been served,” U.S. Attorney for South Carolina Peter McCoy said after the hearing. “For years, institutions and individuals have abused the public trust with little to no accountability. This includes corporations that have increased profits at the expense of their customers. Oftentimes, it’s assumed that these executives will avoid any oversight because of who they are and where they’ve worked.”
Marsh’s first day in court was a long one, a product of a three-year investigation by the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina, State Law Enforcement Division and S.C. Attorney General’s Office that brought both state and federal fraud charges against him.
Savannah River Site Watch
Columbia, South Carolina
November 30, 2020
Columbia, SC (aka new Nuclear Ground Zero) — Dramatic aerial photos of the massive nuclear construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia have been released by the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch. The photos of the three failed projects, two of which have been formally terminated, were taken by a local anonymous pilot who goes by the nom de avion High Flyer.
Former SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh has agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy fraud charges, go to prison for at least 18 months and forfeit $5 million in connection with SCANA’s $10 billion nuclear fiasco, according to papers filed in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.
Critical Applications’ ventilation project was tied to a radiation leak in 2014 that often is recalled as the “kitty litter” incident.
A subcontractor is suing the company that operates the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Southern New Mexico, claiming $32 million for what it says was gross mismanagement of a major construction project at the nuclear waste disposal site.
In a federal lawsuit, Texas-based Critical Applications Alliance LLC, which was hired to build a ventilation system at WIPP, says Nuclear Waste Partnership was such a disorganized project manager that it caused repeated delays and cost overruns, resulting in multiple breaches of contract.
The subcontractor also complains WIPP managers abruptly canceled its $135 million contract in August with no explanation and without paying millions owed.
United States Attorney David M. DeVillers
Southern District of Ohio
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY, OCT. 29, 2020
CINCINNATI – A longtime campaign and political strategist for Ohio House Representative Larry Householder and a lobbyist hired by an energy company to funnel money to Householder’s enterprise each pleaded guilty in federal court today.
Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, and Juan Cespedes, 41, of Columbus, each pleaded guilty to participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving more than $60 million paid to a 501(c)(4) entity to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.
The Santa Susana Field Laboratory site is “one of the most toxic sites in the United States by any kind of definition,” Jared Blumenfeld, head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, told me. “It demands a full cleanup.”
BY: MICHAEL HILTZIK
One thing is certainly true about NASA’s curious effort to place 2,850 acres above the Simi Valley on the National Register of Historic Places: The parcel is certainly a landmark.
Among the points in dispute is what makes it so.
To several local Native American tribes, including the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, the Ventura County site’s cave drawings and rock shelters bespeak a cultural heritage dating back centuries.
The time has come for us to make sure that we hold the polluters accountable for their legacy….We will make sure the site gets cleaned up and we will exercise our legal authority in pursuit of that. – CALEPA SECRETARY JARED BLUMENFELD
To environmentalists and the site’s neighbors, it’s historic for the extent of its contamination by chemical and nuclear research performed there during the Cold War.
“It looks like crime might well pay after all.”
That was the weary and only slightly tongue-in-cheek conclusion drawn by longtime anti-nuclear campaigner, Tom Clements recently, after a former South Carolina nuclear utility executive pled guilty to fraud in federal court.
Clements is the director of Savannah River Site Watch, but his activism has, for decades, extended well beyond the perimeter of that vast nuclear site.
For years, Clements and others have followed — and attempted to stand in the way of — the forced march of South Carolina ratepayers toward nuclear fiasco. When it finally unraveled in late July, there was only cautious cause for celebration.
On July 23, Stephen Byrne, the former COO of SCANA, the South Carolina utility originally in charge of the construction of two new nuclear reactors in the state, pled guilty in a massive nuclear conspiracy that defrauded ratepayers, deceived regulators and misled shareholders.
Stephen Byrne, a top executive of the now-defunct SCANA electric utility, pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal conspiracy fraud charges in federal court in Columbia.
Byrne was part of a conspiracy that engineered a “cover-up” to hide the extent of the publicly traded company’s financial problems caused by the nuclear project’s difficulties, according to charging documents in his case. “Through intentional misrepresentations,” Byrne and others deceived regulators and customers, documents said.
As [David] DeVillers described it at a press conference: it was the “largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of Ohio.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI this week charged the speaker of the Ohio House of Representative and four others in a $61 million scheme to use $1 billion in ratepayers money to keep two decrepit nuclear power plants operating.
And, said the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, David DeVillers, at a press conference after the arrests Tuesday: “This is by no means over. We are going to continue with this investigation.”
Those charged were involved in a “Conspiracy to Participate, Directly or Indirectly” in the scheme “through a Pattern of Racketeering Activity,” declared the “Offense Description” that headed an 81-page federal “Criminal Complaint.”
“Ohio is in election-year turmoil over a Trump-supported nuke bailout bought with bribery. Whether public fury will kill the handout and affect the fall presidential election remains to be seen…But Bribed Ohio 2020 has clearly gone radioactive.”
Ohio’s biggest-ever bribery case is rocking America’s reactor industry … and the fall election.
Full details of the shocking arrest of Ohio’s powerful Speaker of the House are still unfolding.
But on Monday, the FBI charged Larry Householder and four associates with taking $60 million (that’s NOT a typo) in bribes from “Company A,” suspected to be the Akron-based nuke utility FirstEnergy. The company has not been formally named as the source of the bribe, but FE’s stock has since plummetted.