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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EU Nuclear Safety, Alaska-Asia Pipeline, EIA Budget, Kalamazoo Cleanup

Most of the EU’s 130 active nuclear reactors need safety improvements, repairs or upgrades, at a cost of up to $32 billion, a European Commission review finds. The EC conducted a nuclear safety review after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The assessment found that agreements on extensive safety measures reached after other reviews – following civilian nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986 – were never implemented, the New York Times said.

Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and pipeline firm TransCanada Corp. have agreed on a timeline for constructing a $65 billion natural gas pipeline that would send Alaskan natural gas Japan and South Korea. The project needs White House approval for pacts with nations that don’t have a free-trade agreement with the United States. So far, the administration has approved one non-free-trade agreement export; 12 others still under review, The Hill said.

The Energy Information Administration’s budget will be reduced by 8 percent to $96 million next year if Congress enacts broad automatic deficit cuts at the end of the year. The agency has struggled to track the US shale gas boom, for example, overestimating gas output data in 2010 from states such as Texas and Louisiana. Data on shale gas and petroleum is still lagging and incomplete, which can impact the nation’s policy on imports and exports, Reuters said.

The EPA ordered Canadian oil firm Enbridge to intensify cleanup efforts along western Michigan’s Kalamazoo River from the July 2010 pipeline spill. The proposed order would require Enbridge to install oil containment devices and equipment at three locations by August 2013, The Hill said.

A New York Supreme Court justice has said a moratorium on natural gas drilling in Binghamton, N.Y., is invalid for failing to meet the criteria for a properly enacted moratorium. In passing the ordinance, the city did not invoke zoning laws. Justice Ferris D. Lebous also ruled that the city had failed to show the need for a moratorium because the state has not decided whether to allow fracking, the New York Times said.

The US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited COM2 Computers and Technologies for 11 alleged safety and health violations, including finding airborne lead above the permissible level, thus putting the health of employees at risk. The other violations involve failing to train workers in lead hazards and other chemical exposure. Proposed fines total $67,320, OSHA said.

The EPA has reached a settlement with US Ecology Texas and TD*X Associates in Robstown, Texas, for violating federal hazardous waste laws. The settlement carries a fine of $788,120 and resolves counts against the companies for processing hazardous waste without a permit or interim status at the facilities, EPA said.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office announced a $77,878 settlement with Redwood City construction company Pellarin Construction Group for alleged improper disposal of hazardous waste that later exploded inside a garbage truck. Three sanitation employees were hospitalized from exposure to toxic fumes, the San Jose Mercury News said.

The EPA has finalized the cleanup plan at the Diaz Chemical Corporation Superfund site in Holley, N.Y. The soil and ground water are contaminated with volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds. The EPA has spent $12 million so far to clean up the site with an estimated total cost of $14.5 million for the project, the agency said.

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