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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Fukushima, Daina Shipping, Abound Solar, Wind Lease

Tokyo Electric Power, operator of the Fukushima power plant, said it couldn’t completely rule out the possibility that the nuclear facility may still leak radiation into the sea, but the company confirmed that radiation levels are declining in the sea water and seabed soil around the plant. Fishing in the area is prohibited except for test fishing of a few species, Reuters said.

Daina Shipping, a unit of Greece’s Costamare, pleaded guilty to a charge of releasing harmful substances into the sea after its 47,230-ton Liberian-flagged Rena grounded on a New Zealand reef last year. The company was fined $246,000, about half the maximum penalty. Earlier this month, the company agreed to pay $22.6 million to the government for cleanup costs related to the pollution and the wreckage, Reuters said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that the 20 nuclear reactors in the path of the east coast-bound Hurricane Sandy have followed routine preparations for severe weather procedures. Reactors operate under licenses that require them to shut down if conditions are too severe. The conditions that would require a shutdown involve factors such as wind speed and flooding potential, the New York Times said.

Abound Solar, the defunct solar-panel manufacturer, is under criminal investigation for possible securities fraud, consumer fraud and financial misrepresentation, the Weld County, Colo., district attorney’s office said. Abound closed its Colorado plant in July and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. No criminal charges have been filed so far in the course of the investigation, the Denver Post said.

The Interior Department and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have reached agreement on a lease for commercial wind energy development in federal waters that covers 96,430 acres, 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware. It is the first lease completed under the Smart from the Start agenda to facilitate offshore wind development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. The lease grants NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware exclusive rights to submit plans for wind energy development in the lease area, the DOI said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposes to direct the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to submit for approval reliability standards on the impact of geomagnetic disturbances on bulk-power system operations. The FERC asks that owners and operators develop and implement operational procedures to mitigate the effects of GMDs and conduct on-going assessments of the potential impact of GMDs, the commission said.

The EPA has issued or settled legal complaints to two convenience store owners and operators in New York State for allegedly violating federal regulations. The first complaint, which seeks $42,295 in penalties, was issued to United Refining for violations involving underground storage tanks at its Kwik Fill stations in western New York. In a separate action, the EPA reached an agreement with NOCO Energy Corp. to settle violations involving 39 underground storage tanks at 13 stations in the Buffalo area and in Rochester. NOCO will pay a $14,000 penalty, writes CSP Daily News.

Processors and ethanol producers in Illinois, where the average corn yield has been the lowest in nearly 25 years, are bringing in millions of bushels of the grain from North Dakota, which produced a record crop this year. Illinois is usually the second-largest corn producer in the country. Southern states also are shipping barges of corn up the Mississippi River to interior states, reversing the normal trade flow of corn supplies out to the coasts, Reuters said.

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