A new federal probe may lead to steep penalties for the operator of a nuclear-waste dump where contaminants escaped, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.
One issue expert said the Energy Department Enforcement Office inquiry into potential procedural breaches at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant “could have implications for the entire contract” held by Nuclear Waste Partnership, the newspaper reported on Tuesday. The firm — a limited liability company formed by Areva, Babcock & Wilcox and URS — manages the site for roughly $130 million each year.
“The penalty can be from zero up to some dollar penalties up to ultimately losing the contract,” said Don Hancock, head of the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque. “This investigation is not going to make that determination, but it can play into some of that determination.”
The federal agency informed the firm about the planned probe last week, roughly four months after a vehicle at the site caught fire and a radiation release forced ordinary work at the repository to cease.
“It could be a very big deal, because in my view the investigation should be asking some really hard questions,” Hancock added.
New Mexico’s state government cannot issue fines larger than $10,000 for each day of an environmental breach, but federal authorities have no such limit, according to the New Mexican.
According to Energy Department spokesman Ben Williams, “WIPP’s federal and contractor workforce will continue the highest level of cooperation and openness to help the Office of Enforcement collect all of the information necessary to complete its investigation.”
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Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”
"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."
"Congress abandoned the Capitol Thursday for an almost two-week break without addressing how to combat Zika, even as public health officials issue dire warnings about the spread of the mosquito-driven virus with summer approaching. ... Instead of racing to fund efforts to thwart a potential health crisis, lawmakers are treating the Zika debate like regular legislation, approving Thursday the establishment of a House-Senate committee to hammer out differences in their competing bills."
Donald Trump may have defeated Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential ambitions, but he wants the man he dubbed Little Marco to keep his job in the Senate. "Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida," Trump tweeted Thursday evening. "Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!" Trump is not the first to urge Rubio to run, though the senator has said such a move is unlikely. The filing deadline is June 24.
President Obama called for an end to nuclear weapons Friday during a somber visit to Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb 71 years ago. "That is the future we can choose,” Obama said. “A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not for the bomb of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”