Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on September 22, 1987 · Page 6
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 6

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Tuesday, September 22, 1987
Page 6
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-TUESDAY, 1987 -THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL GAO: NRC lacks guidelines on Rancho Seco By KIM I. MILLS WASHINGTON (AP) — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission lacks guidelines on shutting down nuclear power plants for safety violations, and some have operated for years with significant problems, according to a federal report released today. The report, by the General Accounting Office, recommends that the NRC "provide utilities clear signals on the types of safety and management problems that could result in a shutdown/' The report said the NRC has been slow to require plants to correct safety violations or to shut down plants with chronic safety violations. It cited five plants with chronic viola- lions that the NRC did not close: Davis- Bcsse in Oak Harbor, Ohio; Rancho Scco, near Sacramento, Calif.; Pilgrim, in Plymouth, Mass.; Brunswick, in Soulhporl, N.C.; and Browns Ferry, in Dccalur, Ala. Of those, all but Brunswick wound up being Shut down by the operating utility —not the NRC—because equipment failures or safety incidents made continued operation impossible. "Nuclear Regulation: Efforts To Ensure Nuclear Power Plant Safety Can Be Strengthened" was written in response to a request from Sen. Alfonso M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., who was to release the report at a news conference. Victor Stcllo, the NRC's executive director for operations, responded to some of the report's criticisms in a telephone interview Monday, although he said he had not yet seen the document. Stcllo said the NRC explains what violations would lead to a shutdown in a "technical specifications" document each plant receives upon licensing. • "To suggest that a comprehensive set of criteria beyond what we already have ought to be developed, I'm at a loss because we really have a fairly comprehensive system right now," he said. While the NRC has ordered shutdowns at five operating plants in the past 25 years, "its decisions to close these plants or allow continued operations look inconsistent because it did not take the same action for other plants with similar problems," the report said. Some plants with chronic safety violations that were allowed to stay open wound up shut down anyway because of equipment failures, the report noted. D'Amato called on the NRC to stop licensing any more nuclear plants until it adopts the GAO recommendations and improves enforcement of safety regulations. The two plants that would be directly affected by D'Amato's demand are Shoreham in New York and Seabrook in New Hampshire. Both plants have been thwarted in their efforts to obtain full- power licenses because neither has an approved emergency evacuation plan. "The NRC has allowed nuclear plants to keep operating despite findings of design problems, questionable equipment and even utility personnel found asleep in the control room on duty," D'Amato said. "This report shows that when serious problems are found, the NRC waits and waits and waits before taking action." The report also pointed to instances in which the commissioners could not agree on what types or degrees of safety problems should lead the NRC to close a plant. In pointing out the NRC's allegedly inconsistent policies, the report noted that although the agency shut down the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in Pennsylvania because workers were found sleeping on the job in March, it did not order the plant closed when an NRC inspector observed a sleeping control room worker there on June 10, 1985. Stello responded that "what led to the shutdown is (that) a situation of inattcn- tiveness was pervasive, not just a single operator. The first time that we had that knowledge was literally just a few days before we shut the plant down." School AIDS prevention videos vetoed SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. George Deukmejian has vetoed a bill that would have required the public schools to show state- approved AIDS prevention videos in junior and senior high schools. Immediately after the veto announcement Monday, state schools Superintendent Bill Honig and the bill's author, Sen. Gary Hart, D- Santa Barbara, condemned the move. Hart called the veto "dangerously shortsighted and narrow-minded." "The governor based his opposition to this legislation completely on political grounds," Hart said in a statement. The bill, SB 136, would have required all California school districts to show an AIDS vid- eotape or film to all students in grades seven through 12 each year until June 1990. Parents who objected could have their children removed from classrooms during showings. The videos would have been selected by Honig and state Health Director Ken Kizer, a .Deukmejian appointee. A Han aide described the bill as a stopgap measure to provide some AIDS education until "we have an appropriate AIDS component integrated into (school) curriculum." In his veto message, Deukmejian said he doubted that SB 136 was necessary, and said he preferred to let individual school districts decide whether to have AIDS education programs. "If the state should require all school districts to provide AIDS prevention" education, the program should include review by the stale Board of Education and provisions requiring affirmative parental consent," the governor added. Affirmative parental consent means that a child would have to have approval from a parent before seeing one of the videos. Under Hart's bill, a child would be shown the video unless a parent objected. Honig said requiring affirmative parental approval would put extra hurdles in the way of informing students about AIDS. "You're not going to be able to track down some parents," he said in an interview. Workers awarded $70,000 for office smoke SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Two Fresno County welfare workers with lung conditions aggravated by co-workers' smoking in the office were awarded more than $70,000 in damages by a state commission. The county was developing a policy to limit smoking in government offices but should have taken immediate steps to protect the workers, according to a unanimous decision made public this week by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission. The. commission concluded the County had violated state laws banning discrimination against the physically handicapped and ordered damages of $40,000 to Danyse Brooks of Clovis and $30,000 to Camille Capo of Fresno for the pain and emotional distress. "It's just been a nightmare," said Ms. Brooks, 35, on Monday. She was awarded an additional undetermined amount of backpay for seven months of medical leave she took at her doctor's orders. The commission also voted 3-2 to restore the sick leave she had taken at various times. Ms. Brooks returned .to work in 1983 when the county restricted smoking in its buildings, but her doctors later diagnosed duodenal and stomach ulcers and heart problems attributed to her recurrence of asthma and the medication she took, she said. Ms. Capo, who joined the same unit four months after Ms. Brooks, has a lung condition called sarcoi- dosis, which like asthma is aggravated by tobacco smoke. Ms. Capo, who was fired by the county at the end of her probationary period, is working for an advocacy group for the mentally retarded and is in good health, Ms. Brooks said. County Counsel Max Robinson said he would recommend an appeal to Superior Court. He said the county believes it made reasonable efforts to accommodate both women, and also noted that the issue of the commission's authority to award damages for emotional distress is before the state Supreme Court in another case. Ms. Brooks had suffered from asthma since birth, but described the illness as under control when she went to work as a Medi-Cal and food stamp eligibility worker for the county in May 1981. Both women complained repeatedly to supervisors, who moved the smokers across the office but refused to place smokers in a separate office. She was hospitalized for six days in June 1982 with severe abdominal pain, apparently a result of the asthma medication she had started taking. The medication also caused severe mood changes. County welfare director Ben Kcl- ley refused in 1982 to separate smokers and non-smokers in the office, saying it would cost too much. Ms. Brooks went on unpaid leave in October 1982 for seven months after she was refused paid leave. The commission said past cases have concluded that extreme sensitivity to tobacco smoke is a physical handicap under state discrimination laws, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts at accommodation. Firefighters now battling cold and smoke in Klamath M GETIIIORE M FOR YOUR IflONEYAT MIRACLE! SONORA (AP) — The devastating series of blazes in the Stanislaus National Forest is under control, but firefighters to the north are battling freezing night temperatures which are making camp conditions miserable. Meanwhile, two juvenile probation camps occupied by 250 youths were evacuated Monday as hundreds of firefighters battled a tough, wind-driven fire that burned more than 7,000 acres of brush in the Angeles National Forest. The flames jumped fire lines on Lake Hughes Road about noon and quickly consumed another 1,000 acres, said Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman Gary Oversby. About 500 firefighters remained in the Stanislaus area on Monday to mop up the fires, which destroyed 139,000 acres of timberland, burned 18 homes and left one firefighter dead when a charred tree fell and crushed him, said forest supervisor Blaine Cornell. In the Klamath National Forest to the north, freezing nights have combined with thick smoke trapped by a weather inversion to create harsh conditions for firefighters. Crew members are exhausted in camps. On the lines they arc hampered by smoke which is cutting visibility to less than a mile in Yreka, 40 miles from the worst fires, according to U.S. Forest Service spokesman Bill Rockwell. The weather forecast says there is a chance of lightning strikes on Wednesday or Thursday. That is "not exactly what we need," said Rockwell. Only a burst of wet weather can quench the flames and send 8,100 firefighters in the area on the road to home, he added. "We're just going to have to stick with it until it rains or snows," said spokesman Bill Rockwell. "It's a continuing long, slow battle." The fires have burned about 180,000 acres of the Klamalh forest just south of the Oregon state line and more than 600,000 acres statewide since a series of 12,000 lightning strikes ignited the blazes starting on Aug. 28. Meanwhile, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting is waiting for the smoke to clear before it can survey the area deep in the Northern California woods. But the joint state-federal task force acknowledges that numerous "pot" gardens have been wiped out. State Tahoe's level falling rapidly SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (AP) — Lake Tahoe's level is falling nearly twice as rapidly as normal and the man in charge of monitoring the lake's ups and downs says he's not exactly sure why. Federal Watermaster Garry Stone said on Monday the lake is falling at a rate of nearly a quarter inch a day and has declined one-half foot in the past month. Stone said that amounts to the loss of about 2,400 acre-feel of water a day leaving the lake. He said the discharge from the lake into the Truckcc River is only 672 acre-feet daily and the rest is being lost through evaporation. Bay and Delta safeguards favored SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nine out of 10 California^ want more conservation measures taken and environmental guarantees enacted before water transport systems arc enlarged to divert more water to Southern California, according to a new California Poll. Mcrvin Field, who conducted the survey, said the public is anxious for fair treatment of all interests in the debate over water. "They recognize the threat of future shortages and support more storage and supply. But they first want coascrvation and environmental protections," Field said. Migrant ed, child care bills vetoed SACRAMENTO (AP) —Gov. George Dcukmcjian vetoed Monday bills to impose civil penalties on public employers for worker safety violations, and require school districts to provide buses at cost for migrant education programs. « The Republican governor also vetoed bills that would have allowed redevelopment plans to include child care centers, and required that the number of wastc-to-cncrgy permits be reported. The worker safety bill, AB701 by Assemblyman Dick Floyd, D-Hawlhorne, would have allowed the California Occupational Safety and Health Act program, or Cal-OSHA, to impose civil penalties on governmental agencies that have safety violations involving their own employees. Pollution feared from sunken ship SANTA BARBARA (AP) — Environmental officials worried that metals aboard a freighter that sank after a collision with another ship could spew into the ocean, threatening rich fishing areas. The 564-foot Libcrian-registercd Pac Baroness sank Monday, 10 hours after hitting the 494-foot Atlantic Wing, a Panamanian carrier loaded with automobiles. No injuries were reported. The Pac Baroness, carrying 23,000 tons of powdered copper, iron and sulfur concentrates and 386,000 gallons of bunker fuel, went down in 3,000 feet of water 125 miles northwest of Los Angeles, according to the Coast Guard. "There's excellent fishing just north and south of there," said Zcke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. "Depending on where the currents are, it could be a real problem. I'm very concerned about contamination." The freighter's contents could cause significant environmental problems if released into the ocean, said Philip Oshida, an oceanographer for the federal Environmental Protection Agency in San Francisco. WATER DAMAGE? FIRE & SMOKE DAMAGE? CALL RESTORATION SERVICES FREE ESTIMATES Highly approved for insurance claims. 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CRUISE, MD Internal Medicine 462-1202 Pain Management Stress- Reduction Sports Injuries Nutrition Preventive Medicine Ukiah Pain and Stress Reduction Center 234 B Hospital Drive, Ukiah Restoration Services UKIAH • 462-7476 LAKE COUNTY • 263-2425 Member iMENDOCINO COAST WOMEN'S HEALTH CENTER [WOMEN'S HEALTH CENTER IS SEEING PATIENTS* IN WILLITS AT 86 AAADRONE PROFESSIONAL* , .GROUP EVERY MONDAY. BEGINNING MONDAY, ft ..SEPT. 14, AN OBSTETRICIAN/ GYNECOLOGIST , ,AND A NURSE-MIDWIFE WILL BE AVAILABLE . .FOR OBSTETRIC, GYNECOLOGICAL AND FAMILY . .PLANNING SERVICES. i ; FOR APPOINTMENT CALL FORT BRAGG OFFICE 9644)259. ***************************#**%

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