#India – Police Reforms that never came

The Hindu , April 4, 2013

“Animal behaviour,” was the unusual language the Supreme Court deployed recently. The context for the cryptic remarks was the gruesome lathi-charge on protesting teachers, predominantly women, engaged on contract by the Bihar government, and the attacks on a woman who sought police intervention in a case of assault. The police carry a long and ignominious record of resort to indiscriminate force to quell peaceful protesters, which peaked in the public outrage over the Delhi gang-rape and the death of a journalist in Manipur in 2012. Often, the aims of the political masters the police serve are diametrically opposed to the public interest they are duty-bound to protect in a democracy. The judges were perfectly justified in ventilating their impatience, having issued notice after notice in the past to Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police for greater accountability. In a landmark 2006 verdict, the Supreme Court came out with its now famous seven steps to police reforms. Insulation of the force from illegitimate political interference, transparency in the appointment of the DGP, separation of the law and order and investigative functions and the establishment of a complaints authority are the more important among them. They still remain on paper. Most of these recommendations have been the sum and substance of the eight reports of the National Police Commissions constituted by successive governments over the years. They were further reiterated by two committees set up in the 1990s on police reforms and embodied in the Model Police Act proposed to replace the colonial law of 1861.

Court hearings on compliance with the seven steps were met with requests and more requests for extension of deadlines, ultimately leading to contempt proceedings against some State governments. It is noteworthy that regional parties which have been repeatedly elected to office over the past few decades have demonstrably failed to live up to their avowedly federal and democratic credentials. Since police and law and order are subjects under the Constitution’s State List, the responsibility devolves upon the States. Thus, the prospects for the enactment of a modern police law nearly seven decades after independence hang in the balance. Genuine lessons from the dark record of Emergency rule, encapsulated in the Shah Commission findings and the reports produced by the National Police Commissions of the late 1970s, have not been drawn. This is the bitter truth, one that no political party is willing to admit nearly four decades since the so-called restoration of democracy in India



Cop suspect in Gurgaon Mall worker’s gang rape #Vaw


, TNN | Apr 4, 2013,

  • NEW DELHI: One of the three men who abducted and gang-raped a Gurgaon mall worker in the early hours of Sunday may be a suspended constable. Although his role in the case has not been verified, police are searching for him. On Wednesday, they also announced the arrest of another suspect, Nauseem Alam (25), a native of Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh.
The accused trapped the woman and her elder sister outside Sahara Mall in Gurgaon on the pretext of a ride home. They later dumped the older woman near Okhla tank and gang-raped her sister at a flat in the Shaaheen Bagh area of south Delhi. The house owner, Nadeem, is also a suspect in the case. Sources said Nauseem had named constable Junaid, who was suspended after being accused of misconduct during his posting at Barakhamba Road police station.A senior police officer confirmed that the initial probe pointed to Junaid’s role in the case. The victim’s sister had raised an alarm and informed police after being left on the road. But within two hours of the crime, the victim was dropped home by the accused. Police registered a case of gang-rape on the basis of the victim’s statement and began investigations. They raided the Shaaheen Bagh house belonging to Nadeem but found it locked from outside. They broke open the door and found vital clues about the accused.


#Delhigangrape horror in Brazil : Woman gang-raped on a moving bus #Vaw

03 Apr 2013, jagran.com
 Delhi-like gang-rape in Rio de Janerio

Delhi-like gang-rape in Rio de Janerio


Rio De Janeiro: A night out on the town turned into a nightmare after an American woman was gang-raped and beaten aboard a public transport van while her French boyfriend was handcuffed, hit with a crowbar and forced to watch the attacks, police said.

The incidents raise new questions about security in Rio, which has won kudos for its crackdown on once-endemic drug violence in preparation for hosting next year’s football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The city also will be playing host to World Youth Day, a Roman Catholic pilgrimage that will be attended by Pope Francis and is expected to draw some 2 million people in late July.

Three men aged 20 to 22 have been taken into custody in connection to the crime, which took place over six hours starting shortly after midnight on Saturday, police said. The suspects have been accused of at least one similar attack, with a young Brazilian woman having come forward to say that she too was raped by the same men in the van on March 23, police said. “The victims described everything in great detail, mostly the sexual violence,” police officer Rodrigo Brant told the Globo TV network. “Just how they described the facts was shocking — the violence and brutality. It surprised even us, who work in security and are used to hearing such things.”

The attack drew comparisons with the fatal December beating and gang-rape of a young woman on a New Delhi bus in which six men beset a 23-year-old university student and male friend after they boarded a private bus. That attack touched off a wave of protests across India demanding stronger protection for women. Officials there say tourism has dropped in the country following the attacks. On Tuesday, Brazilian police were quick to emphasize to reporters the rarity of Saturday’s attack. “These type of crimes committed against foreign tourists are very uncommon,” said Alexandre Braga, the police officer leading the investigation.

Officials from the local Olympic and World Cup organizing committees didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about how the attack might affect their security precautions.
Braga said the two foreigners, who were in Brazil as students, took a public transport van similar to those often used as a faster alternative to the city’s bus fleet. The pair was heading from Rio’s Copacabana beach neighborhood to the nightlife hot spot of Lapa in downtown Rio.

A few minutes into the ride, the suspects forced the other passengers to get out of the van and then raped the female tourist inside the moving vehicle, Braga said. The woman was also beaten across the face, and the man was handcuffed and beaten, at one point with a metal crowbar. The three suspects took turns behind the wheel, driving the van to Rio’s sister city of Niteroi where they went on a spending spree with the foreigners’ credit cards.

Once they hit the limit on both cards, spending around USD 500 at gas stations and convenience stores, the suspects drove the pair back to Rio, where the foreigners were staying, and forced the woman to fetch another credit card, Braga said.
Although she was alone, she didn’t call the police or alert anyone, Braga said, “because the young man was still under the suspects’ control and she feared something even worse might happen to him.”

The two were ultimately dumped by the side of a highway near the city of Itaborai, some 50 kilometers from Rio. After they managed to make it to an unidentified country’s consulate, officials took the two to the special police delegation that specializes in crimes against foreigners. The young woman has returned to the U.S., while the man remains in Rio to help with the investigations, Braga said. “The victims recognized the three without a shadow of a doubt,” Braga said.

The Brazilian woman who said she had also been raped by the suspects last month recognized media images of the alleged attackers and contacted police. Another foreigner has said she’d been robbed by one of the three suspects, police said.
Investigators are reviewing police databases to determine whether the three might have been involved in other crimes.

Two of the suspects have confessed to Saturday’s attack, while the third denies any responsibility, Braga said. “They do not show any repentance,” he said. “They are quite indifferent, cold.” The suspects rented the van, which seats about a dozen people and has dark tinted windows, from the vehicle’s owner, who police say is not suspected of any involvement in the crime. Though they apparently had authorization to transport passengers in Niteroi and neighboring Sao Goncalo, the suspects were not allowed to operate the van in Rio, Braga said. “It appears they worked in transportation and sometimes engaged in crimes,” said Braga.

Many in Rio know of such van services for their precarious safety conditions and reckless driving, as well as their links to organized crime. Some vans are linked to militias largely composed of former police and firemen that control large swaths of the city’s slums and run clandestine transportation and other services. In general, tourists avoid the vans and opt for regular buses or taxis.

Foreigners are more often the targets of muggings and petty crime in Rio, with assaults a particular problem on public transit. Last year, a woman was raped on a moving bus in broad daylight in a widely publicized case, and the Rio subway has special women-only cars to help prevent such attacks. More than 5,300 cases of sexual assault were reported in Brazil between January and June 2012, according to the country’s Health Ministry.


– See more at: http://post.jagran.com/delhilike-gangrape-in-rio-de-janerio-1364998608#sthash.kwWDr69N.dpuf


Chemical Disasters, Agent Orange, and GMOs: Monsanto’s Legacy Traced in Exposé

Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by Common Dreams

Food & Water Watch highlights toxic ‘corporatization and industrialization of our food supply’

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Chemical disasters, Agent Orange, and the first genetically modified plant cell are among just some of the dark milestones belonging to the history of the biotech giant Monsanto highlighted in a new report released Wednesday by consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

 The in-depth historical analysis Monsanto: A Corporate Profile presents a corporation “steeped in heavy industrial chemical production,” who only recently began marketing itself through an “environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image”—an image that is contradictory to a century of toxic chemical production and a food supply saturated with un-labeled GE crops, herbicides, and artificial growth hormones.

Monsanto, as FWW shows, now holds vast “undue influence over lawmakers, regulators, and our food supply,” and has caused great devastation to farmers around the world through its global seed monopoly.

“Despite its various marketing incarnations over the years, Monsanto is a chemical company that got its start selling saccharin to Coca-Cola, then Agent Orange to the U.S. military, and, in recent years, seeds genetically engineered to contain and withstand massive amounts of Monsanto herbicides and pesticides,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of Organic Consumers Association in response to the report. “Monsanto has become synonymous with the corporatization and industrialization of our food supply.”

“Even though you won’t find the Monsanto brand on a food or beverage container at your local grocery store, the company holds vast power over our food supply,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director for the Center for Food Safety. “This power is largely responsible for something else we cannot find on our grocery store shelves — labels on genetically engineered food. Not only has Monsanto’s and other agribusinesses’ efforts prevented the labeling of GE foods, but they spend millions to block grassroots efforts like California’s Prop 37 in order to keep consumers in the dark.”

The report arrives after President Obama signed last week what has been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act”—legislation critics say amounts to “corporate welfare” for biotechnology corporations like Monsanto that puts both farmers and the environment in jeopardy.

The law will essentially “bar US federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops even if they failed to be approved by the government’s own weak approval process and no matter what the health or environmental consequences might be,” Greenpeace wrote last week.

“At the end of March, the American public saw first hand the unjustifiable power that Monsanto holds over our elected officials when an unprecedented budget rider, dubbed the ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ was tacked onto the spending bill to fund the federal government,” Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Nowstated following the release of Food & Water Watches new report. “This is an outrageous interference with our courts and separation of powers and we cannot sit back and allow our elected officials to continue to take orders from Monsanto at the expense of family farmers and consumers.”

Monsanto’s legacy continues… Read more here.


Global media investigation finds 612 Indians among thousands with firms in tax havens


Icij-reporters-, Ritu-sarin : New Delhi, Washington | Apr 04, 2013, IE


In the biggest global expose of its kind on offshore investments and secret financial transactions, an international group of investigative journalists has found details of more than 1.2 lakh offshore entities and trusts belonging to individuals and companies in more than 170 countries and territories, including India.

These individuals and companies include politicians, the mega rich and tax offenders, among others, who have invested in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, Samoa and other offshore hideaways.

The 612 Indians in this list include two members of Parliament — Lok Sabha Congress MP Vivekanand Gaddam and RS member Vijay Mallya — and several industrialists such as Ravikant Ruia, Samir Modi, Chetan Burman, Abhey Kumar Oswal, Rahul Mammen Mappillai, Teja Raju, Saurabh Mittal and Vinod Doshi.

The list also includes businessmen who have had a brush with authorities such as the Income-Tax department and the CBI. Several of the offshore investments were made in possible violation of RBI and FEMA rules.

Details of these transactions were contained in 2.5 million secret files and accounted for more than 260 gigabytes of data. They were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and their total size is more than 160 times larger than the leak of the US State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.

Based in Washington DC, ICIJ (www.icij.org) is an independent network of reporters who work together on cross-border investigations.

ICIJ collaborated with 38 media organisations around the world, including the The Indian Express, for this ambitious global project and to analyse the documents. The other media partners include The Washington Post in the US, The Guardian and BBC in Britain, Le Monde in France and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The secret files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe. They represent the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organisation.

Besides several well-known Indians, the lists include American doctors and dentists, middle-class Greek villagers as well as families and associates of long-time despots, Wall Street swindlers, East European and Indonesian billionaires, Russian corporate executives and international arms dealers.

These people used international financial services providers such as the Portcullis Trustnet (PTN) of Singapore and the Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL) in the British Virgin Islands to register offshore companies in tax havens. PTN and CTL, it has been found, have helped tens of thousands of people set up off-shore companies, personal financial trusts and hard-to-trace bank accounts.

Anti-corruption campaigners argue that offshore secrecy undermines law and order and forces average citizens to pay higher taxes to make up for revenues that vanish offshore. The stolen asset recovery initiative, a programme of the Wold Bank and the United Nations, has estimated that cross-border flows of global proceeds of financial crimes total between $1 trillion and $ 1.6 trillion a year.

On the other hand, offshore defenders counter that most offshore patrons are engaged in legitimate business transactions. Offshore centres, they say, allow companies and individuals to diversify their investments, force commercial alliances across national borders and do business in entrepreneur-friendly zones that eschew the heavy rules and redtape of the onshore world.

The 15-month long investigation has found that alongside perfectly legal transactions, the secrecy and lax oversight offered by the offshore world allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive. The expose has also thrown light on the functioning of “nominee directors’’ in offshore companies, several of whom have also been engaged by Indian patrons of offshore companies.

For instance, a cluster of 28 “sham directors’’ have been identified as having served as the on-paper representatives of more than 21,000 companies between them, with some individual directors representing as many as 4,000 companies each.

The expose comes shortly after a list of 18 Indians who had bank accounts in the LGT Liechtenstein Bank and around 700 Indians who had accounts in HSBC in Geneva became public. In both cases, account holders were prosecuted and paid penalties to Income-Tax authorities for deposits they had made abroad without paying taxes in India.

Incidentally, India had signed a double taxation treaty called the Tax Information Exchange Agreement with the BVI in 2011 to check tax evasion and money laundering from the tax haven. Finance ministry officials said that similar agreements are in the process of being drafted with the Cook Islands and Samoa.

While the Liberalized Remittance Scheme 2012 permits Indians to deposit up to $200,000 abroad annually, the RBI has made it clear that this does not include deposits in tax havens. “As yet, the $200,000 facility for remittances abroad is not applicable for individuals to open accounts or companies in tax havens,” a RBI spokesperson told The Indian Express.

Auditors said the legality of holding offshore accounts and registering offshore companies is complex. The RBI restriction on individuals incorporating companies abroad, they said, can be easily circumvented if an offshore company is first incorporated and the shareholding then transfered to the beneficial owner.

In the cases under scrunity, documents show that both patterns have been followed. The date of incorporation and the date of the patrons being appointed shareholders/directors is either identical — which is a violation of RBI guidelines — or is a month or so later. If it is the latter, these individuals can say they just acquired shares of an offshore company.

However, with individuals debarred from using LRS for setting up companies, even the remittance dispatched by them for setting up an offshore entity can be a violation. Under rules of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), the use of the offshore route to bring in FDI is also prohibitted and is a violation of Section 8 of the act.

There is also a restraint on individuals setting up offshore companies without the prior approval of the RBI.


* 15-month investigation based on 260 GB data in 2.5 million secret files including 2 million emails covering nearly 30 years

* Data had details of over 1.2 lakh offshore firms/trusts and 12,000 agents

* Owners, benefactors of offshore accounts spread across more than 170 countries, territories

* 86 ICIJ journalists from 38 media organisations in 46 countries collaborated in investigation

* Data found 28 ‘sham directors’ who together represented 21,000 firms



The Long, Tragic Trail of Failed General Electric Nuclear Plants


Newly found court documents from long ago are raising fresh questions about the safety of nuclear reactors made by General Electric. The documents shed new light on old, unresolved safety problems at GE reactors that still had not been fully addressed by 2011 when nuclear accidents at three GE plants devastated Fukushima, Japan.

GE, the third largest corporation in the world, has designed and built dozens of nuclear reactors around the world since 1958, including six at Fukushima, as well as the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant, the Columbia Generating Station located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington — some 150 miles east of Portland and Seattle.

One of the Fukushima reactors explodes in 2011. A similar GE reactor was built near Richland, WA., 150 miles east of Portland and Seattle.

GE built six similar models of its boiling water nuclear reactor — theBWR 1–6 — and three sizes of containment buildings to protect the public from radiation coming off the reactors — the Mark I, II and III.

In 1974, GE revealed that in certain accident and non-accident situations, its smallest containment building, the Mark I, and a slightly larger version, the Mark II, could be subjected to “newly discovered” physical pressures that could structurally damage the steel containment and the equipment inside it. Later, GE acknowledged similar problems with the much larger Mark III.

However, as the old court documents reveal, GE’s top nuclear engineers had been expressing serious misgivings about the stability of the containment buildings long before 1972. In memos to their superiors that go back as early as 1964, the engineers questioned whether the reactors could remain stable during an accident scenario nearly identical to the one that unfolded a half-century later at Fukushima. However, they feared that a massive pipe break, rather than an epic earthquake and tsunami, would be the event that triggered the disaster.

The documents also remind us that in the 1990s, GE settled a series of claims made by utilities that had bought GE’s nuclear equipment. The utilities said the containment buildings at 10 plants were defective (see the list at the bottom of this page), equal to one-fourth of all GE nuclear power systems that were ever operated in the United States.

At least four of the disputes led to lawsuits. The lawsuits accused GE of knowingly selling defective reactors as well as committing various other acts such as breach of contract, racketeering and fraud as part of a marketing scheme to foist the reactors upon unsuspecting utilities and the public without their knowledge of the defects or their consent.

In their complaints, the utilities claimed each type of GE containment building — the Mark I, II and III — was defective.

The Richland nuclear power plant, its BWR-5 reactor and its Mark IIcontainment structure were built from 1973–1983. The owner was then known as the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS), a consortium of 27 publicly-owned utilities in Washington state. The plant is situated on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the most radioactively contaminated site in the country. Hanford, a former nuclear weapons factory, is owned by the US Department of Energy, which leased a portion of the site to WPPSS for operating the commercial nuclear power plant.

In 1999, the nuclear power plant was renamed the “Columbia Generating Station.” The new name, which replaced “Washington Nuclear Plant 2,” obscures the fact that nuclear fuel is what is used there to make electricity.

The name “Washington Public Power Supply System” is gone too. The utility consortium, hoping to rebrand itself in the wake of the financial disaster it created in the 1970s and 1980s, is now called “Energy Northwest.” The old WPPSS (usually pronounced “whoops” for obvious reasons) failed spectacularly while trying to build five nuclear plants at the same time in the 1980s. All but one were cancelled. Construction costs exploded and WPPSSdefaulted on $2.25 billion worth of construction bonds in what at the time was the largest municipal bond collapse in US history.

Meanwhile, WPPSS and General Electric couldn’t agree on who was liable for paying to fix the plant’s defects. In 1985 WPPSS sued GE for $1.2 billion.WPPSS claimed that in 1971, when it bought the reactor from GE for $110 million, GE failed to disclose its knowledge about the reactor’s defects. A decade later, WPPSS had to spend another $297 million to rebuild it, delaying the initial start-up by 18 months.

In 1990, during trial in US District Court, Judge Alan A. McDonald said he heard “unrebutted evidence” that GE had falsely claimed that its nuclear plant hardware was “proven and tested” before it was placed on the market.

The proceedings were declared a mistrial after a jury wasn’t able to reach a unanimous verdict. Judge McDonald ruled that WPPSS could base its complaint against GE on negligent misrepresentation rather than on fraud and breach of contract. A second trial was about to start in 1992 when a settlement was reached.

As the Seattle Times reported at the time, GE settled the case for $134.9 million worth of goods and services, but paid no cash. However, GE agreed to increase the power output of the WPPSS reactor by 50 megawatts, an increase that could generate about $16.5 million worth of electricity in a year.

Documents from the case show that GE intended to conduct full-scale tests of the plants only after utilities began operating them in the backyards of communities like Richland, and the neighboring Kennewick and Pasco.

“The Court can only view that as a fairly sophisticated form of Russian roulette,” McDonald wrote.

Russian Roulette is a potentially lethal game of chance in which a player places a single round in a revolver, spins the cylinder, places the muzzle against his head, and pulls the trigger.

In 2011, a quarter-century after Judge McDonald issued his warning about General Electric’s deadly nuclear power game, and a half-century after GE’s engineers expressed their own concerns, the Russian Roulette bullet finally went off. Three GE reactors exploded at Fukushima, devastating the northeastern part of Honshu, the largest island in Japan and spreading contamination as far south as Tokyo, a distance of nearly 150 miles, or about the same distance from Hanford to Portland or Seattle.

The radiation was released in amounts that are known to cause several deadly types of cancer, which can take up to twenty years to develop, and can harm the health of future generations by causing genetic mutations.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, the Australian medical doctor and anti-nuclear activist, estimates that 2.5 to 3.5 million people could eventually die from cancer caused by the Fukushima radiation release.

The Fukushima accident also contaminated the the North Pacific Ocean with large amounts of radioactive fallout that will persist for generations.

The people living near nuclear accidents or releases are often called “downwinders” because the air they breathe has often been contaminated by pollution from a source located upwind. Residents of the Tri-Cities in South Central Washington know well what it is like to be a downwinder. Since World War II, they have lived downwind from the highly polluted Hanford Nuclear Reservation and its now-closed nuclear reactors and bomb factories. They have suffered a series of health problems as a result.

A Fukushima-like explosion at the commercial nuclear plant would make previous contamination seem like child’s play: causing serious health effects, forcing massive evacuations of cities and towns, contaminating the Columbia River and its salmon runs, and rendering vast stretches of prime agricultural land uninhabitable for centuries.

Large portions of the United States are potentially at risk as well. Most ofGE’s nuclear reactors are located near population centers east of the Mississippi River. More than 58 million people live within 50 miles of a GEnuclear reactor.

Why the GE plant failed at Fukushima and the NRC’s response

The nuclear power plants discussed here are known as boiling water reactors. There are 35 boiling water reactors currently operating in the United States and five that are defunct. Each was made by General Electric. Many of the other 68 plants in the US are known as pressurized water reactors and have had serious problems themselves. Westinghouse, a major manufacturer of these competing designs, has also had to fend off a series of lawsuits filed by its customers.

A schematic of the typical General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor., which is slightly smaller than the Mark IImodel. The Mark III is larger yet.


Nuclear fission occurs within a long, skinny structure made of reinforced steel, with a concrete shell, in the shape of an upside-down incandescent light bulb. Known as a “containment vessel,” this structure contains a single nuclear reactor. Directly adjoining the containment vessel at Columbia Generating Station are 327 tons of still-highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods that sit in a pool of water above the reactor – six stories above ground and much less heavily protected than the reactor itself. As Dr. Caldicott points out, this irradiated fuel is about 1,000 times more radioactive than fresh fuel.

Hot, highly pressurized radioactive gas and steam fill up the empty spaces in the containment vessel. The vessel’s job is to contain its contents of gas, steam and radioactive particles so they don’t escape to the outside environment.

In the boiling water reactor models produced by GE, pumps deliver water to the reactor to cool it down as well as to produce steam that turns the turbines that generate the power.

Equipment in the plant is designed to condense the hot steam back into water. Because the Fukushima plants lost power after the earthquake and tsunami, they were unable to condense the steam. They could neither pump water needed to cool the reactors, nor control the pressure of the gas and steam filling the containment.

The most volatile of the gases in a nuclear containment structure is hydrogen, which is created when the zirconium cladding, or the outer covering of the nuclear fuel rods, becomes overheated while in contact with water or steam. At Fukushima, hydrogen and other gases built up at extreme pressures and began escaping through small gaps in the containment structures. The hydrogen found a spark three times, literally blowing the top off of three of the reactor buildings, further breaching containment, and spreading dangerous radioactive particles throughout northeastern Japan, the region, and around the northern hemisphere.

On March 19, 2013, in response to the Fukushima accident, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered utilities to install vents that would release the pressure of hydrogen and other gases during a nuclear accident. Instead of requiring more robust vents and filters to prevent radioactive particles from escaping in a worst-case accident, as recommended by the NRC staff, utilities will be allowed to consider alternatives that get enough cooling water the reactor to avoid such a worst-case accident.

The Commission overruled the staff recommendation and decided, in a 4–1 vote, not to require the filters because of opposition from the nuclear power industry, which claimed they would be too expensive.

The WPPSS reactor in Hanford as well as many other plants now must still spend tens of millions of dollars to comply with the new, somewhat weakened, NRC order.

Only Allison MacFarlane, chair of the commission, voted in favor of the filtered vents. “My decision reflects, in part, my experiences during a recent trip to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan,” she said. She said she traveled through deserted villages past homes and businesses that have overgrown with weeds since the accident.

She said it all underscored “the impact of the accident from a nuclear plant.”

David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer with the watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists, said that, if installed, “the filters would remove 99 percent of the contamination.”

Moreover, Charles K. Johnson, director of the Joint Task Force on Nuclear Power for Oregon and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, stated, “this half-measure upgrade is unlikely to prevent a hydrogen explosion and a massive release of radiation in a worst-case scenario.”

As Paul Gunter of nuclear power opponent Beyond Nuclear put it, “Venting an accident without a filter” is like “fire-hosing downwind communities with massive amounts of radiation.”

It appears the Columbia Generating Station will still pose a safety risk to the public and the region even after the installation of vents is complete in 2016, as scheduled.

Meanwhile, another serious, unresolved problem with GE plants has emerged: the discovery of gas bubbles trapped in the pipes of the emergency core cooling system. These bubbles can disable or damage the pumps when they are trying to cool the superheated reactor during an accident. If the pumps ingest enough air, “the pumps may become inoperable,” according to a study of the issue by scientists at Purdue University.

Since the pumps rely on the water they are pumping to provide lubrication and cooling, a pump that is trying to pump air can overheat — causing its casing to thermally expand, exceeding tolerances.

“Since these components typically have tight tolerances, a significant amount of thermal expansion will cause these tolerances to be exceeded,” said an NRC engineer, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation by his employer.

Most significantly, the NRC has not found a solution to the gas bubble problem.

Nevertheless, it allows the GE plants keep on running. The results could be catastrophic.

GE’s 12-year cover-up

At the time WPPSS bought its reactor, GE‘s engineers acknowledged in memos that they didn’t fully understand certain “phenomena” that occurred during the steam condensation process. As one GE engineer wrote in 1964, the steam condensation process was “the least understood” aspect of GEreactors.

The GE engineers had other worries as well, including mysterious vibrations which they had observed. In 1968, the manager of GE’s Systems Conformance Engineering Unit said the vibrations could not be explained without “very expensive large-scale tests.”

In 1970, the manager of GE’s Advance Systems & Analysis Design Unit noted that GE was trying to “dump” the vibration problem onto unsuspecting customers like WPPSS. He predicted, however, that WPPSS and other utilities would fail to find a solution and that GE would eventually be called upon to conduct “a rescue operation.”

Also in 1970, engineers wrote about a different, potentially serious, phenomenon: the “severe jumping and banging” they had observed when pressurized steam was injected into a massive water cooler known as the torus. The torus, located beneath the reactor, is part of the plant’s system to condense water and reduce pressure. Engineers saw the torus literally leap off its foundation.

Were any of these concerns communicated to WPPSS prior to the sale? Apparently not. Federal District Court Judge McDonald wrote that WPPSShad “submitted uncontroverted evidence that nobody from GE ever told the Supply System about any concern GE had about the adequacy of the containment.”

GE engineers continued to voice concerns about its plants after the company sold the reactor to WPPSS. A 1975 memo from a GE engineer named Henry E. Stone noted that a variety of failures, technical problems and serious structural defects at GE reactors still had not been resolved. The memo was labeled “strictly private” and “GE confidential: Subject to protective order, Zimmer litigation.”

In response to Stone’s memo, A.J. Bray, general manager of GE’s nuclear reactor division, was taken aback by what he described as the memo’s “negative tone.”

“If any of our customers ever get a copy of this, we are in real trouble,” Bray wrote. “All of the comments may be true, but why does GE have to put it into print to ruin a business?”

The “Zimmer litigation” was a reference to a lawsuit filed by Cincinnati Gas & Electric over defects at its Zimmer Nuclear Plant, located on the Ohio River east of Cincinnati. GE never intended for the Bray memo to be released, but it was filed along with several other confidential documents in open court by lawyers for the plaintiffs, a breach of a protective order, which GEhad expected would ensure confidentiality.

But an alert reporter for the local newspaper took notice, and soon stories began appearing about an alleged “12-year cover-up” of a “secret report” which contained “undisclosed safety problems,” according to a two-volume, 1200-page document produced in 1987 by GE about the history of its containment structure problems.

The GE history said the “misleading” newspaper articles “raised concerns in communities where GE BWRs (boiling water reactors) are in operation.” The confidential documents also proved troublesome when utilities and public officials in other states began demanding copies.

GE’s 1987 allegedly exhaustive history was full of holes. For example, the company neglected to give credit to the whistleblowers who raised questions about the plants’ safety in the 1960s and 1970s, leading to the repairs in the 1980s.

Zimmer, a Mark II GE plant near Cincinnati, never produced a single watt of nuclear power. Before the plant opened in 1983, it was converted to coal. The Zimmer plant, the world’s only nuclear power plant converted to a coal-burning facility, is now the largest single-unit coal-powered facility in the US.

Putting Profits First

The old court documents had been long forgotten when Daniel Pope, a professor at the University of Oregon, dug them up in a Lexis-Nexis search while doing research for his 2008 book, “Nuclear Implosions: The Rise and Fall of the Washington Public Power Supply System.”

When the New York Times wrote about the defective GE reactors in 2011during the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima accidents, it made no mention of the old court documents. The writer recalled that some utility companies had thought about suing GE during the 1980s, but he failed to mention that some utilities did, in fact, file lawsuits — including two in New York State — Long Island Light and Niagara Mohawk Power. The New York Times even wrote a brief story about one of the lawsuits when it was filed in 1988. More information about the LILCO case can be found here.

However, the 2011 Times article did describe several other interesting documents, including a few from NRC officials critical of GE.

The Times reported that in 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, then a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, recommended that the Mark 1 system be discontinued because it presented “unacceptable safety risks.” The Times added that, “Among the concerns cited was the smaller containment design, which was more susceptible to explosion and rupture from a buildup in hydrogen — a situation that may have unfolded at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.”

Also in 1972, Joseph Hendrie, who in 1977 became chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the successor agency to the Atomic Energy Commission, said the idea of a ban on this type of reactor “was attractive,” the Times reported.

But Hendrie added that a ban on GE’s technology particularly at this time, “could well be the end of nuclear power.’

One can assume that an industry that put profits first, ahead of safety and full disclosure, would have strongly resisted any effort to shut it down.

As GE general manager A.B. Bray says, the disclosure of damning facts can “ruin a business.” GE had invested billions of dollars in nuclear technology and had much to lose. GE sold 42 reactors in just two years in the early 1970s, which is more than the total number of boiling water reactors now in operation in the United States.

After hearing the case for seven years, Judge McDonald, a Ronald Reagan appointee who died in 2007, concluded that GE did not disclose its doubts about reactors to WPPSS because it “was concerned about its market position, profits and potential liability.”

Reginald Jones, CEO of GE, assured a group of security analysts in 1975 that he saw nuclear power as the future of energy and that GE would continue to invest in it. “And as long as we can make these investments, and contain our risks, then we’re going to continue with this strategy.”

Neither Energy Northwest nor General Electric responded to a request for comment on this story. In the past, each has said that GE nuclear plants are safe.

Others, such as Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear, disagree. “The Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors are aging and deteriorating with fundamentally flawed containment systems,” he said.” They are inherently dangerous. These reactors should be immediately closed.”


This list shows the names of nuclear power plants and their owners that pressed claims against General Electric for defects in their reactors. The 10 plants on this list represent a quarter of all GE boiling water reactors ever sold in the United States. Source: Various media reports.

Source- http://times.org/


Gujarat- Demolition drive horror: one dies as 5 people set themselves on fire

PTI : Rajkot, Thu Apr 04 2013, 


Five persons, including three women, today set themselves ablaze in Rajkot Municipal Corporation office to protest the civic body’s alleged demolition drive, police said.

The five, identified as Rekha, Asha, Vasumati, Bharat and Girish from Chhotu Nagar area near Raiya Dhar of the city, today poured kerosene and set themselves on fire in RMC’s central zone office, police said.

They were rushed to Rajkot civil hospital where condition of two of them was stated to be critical.

When contacted, Mayor Janak Kotak said that RMC has nothing to do with the incident as the civic body had no plan to carry out demolition in the area.

The five might have had a dispute with a member of their society because of which they took the extreme step, Kotak said.

The RMC has decided to initiate a probe in the incident and appropriate action would be taken against those found guilty, he added.

He extended all possible support to the victims and said they would be shifted to private hospital soon

Mariakkutty murder case: First time details of Aadhaar card being used in investigation ! #UID #WTFnews

English: Fingerprint
Kozhikode: The Crime Branch (CB) Superintendent, Kozhikode, has requested help from the Director of Aadhaar, Bangalore, to identify the fingerprint of the culprit in the Mariakkutty murder case at Kannur. This is the first time, police are looking for the details of Aadhaar card to investigate a murder case in the state.

Mariakkutty was found murdered at her home in Kannur district a year ago. Crime Branch police found evidence of fingerprint from the house in the investigation. However, they could not identify the murderer when they cross-checked the evidence with that of the stock of the state police. Then the police arrived at a conclusion to check the details of Aadhaar card. Taking finger print is a must procedure in Aadhaar. So the police believe that the particulars in the card can help them trace the murderer.

Crime Branch SP, Shamsu Illickal, has handed over the facts of the fingerprint to the Aadhaar Director in Bangalore. If the murderer has taken the card, it will trap him. Otherwise the probe will be prolonged further. The officials expect that Aadhaar card will also be as helpful as mobile phones in investigation process.

Source- http://english.manoramaonline.com/


Andhra Pradesh – Private hospitals may pull out of Aarogyasri #healthcare

As was anticipated and warned, the private healthcare industry is showing its true colours and indulging in supplier ‘hold-up’ and increasing the costs.

TNN | Apr 4, 2013,

HYDERABAD: Private hospitals in the city will pull the plug on the state’s flagship Aarogyasri scheme from May 3 after the government refused to accept a minimum 30% hike on the existing tariffs and said henceforth they would only admit patients who can be discharged before the deadline.

If private hospitals go ahead with their plans, thousands of poor people will be denied quality care in top private hospitals in Hyderabad and elsewhere in the state, and is likely to force the government to take action.

About 250 private hospitals in the state treat about 2 lakh patients annually under the Aarogyasri scheme for the 938 listed ailments and diseases.

“It is a sad decision but we are not in a position to carry the burden of the scheme anymore,” said Dr B Bhaskar Rao, president, ASHA.

“Since the scheme’s inception in 2007, costs have gone up steeply but the government is still reluctant to revise the tariffs. Initially, we were told that 28% of the population falls under BPL and will be covered under the scheme, but the fact is 82% of the population is eligible to avail this scheme,” he said.

“We have been requesting the government for a revision since last two years, but nothing has been done.”

In another development, the AP Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (APNA) and AP Specialty Hospitals Association (ASHA), served a notice to the CEO of Aarogyasri trust, demanding a minimum 65% hike in the tariffs, over and above the revised tariffs for healthinsurance scheme for state government employees and their dependants for twin sharing of rooms.They also demanded a 100% hike over and above the revised tariffs for single private rooms. The notice comes at a time when the state government is planning to launch the scheme for government employees on the lines of Aarogyasri from Ugadi.


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