Access to nuke records blocked

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foia bill

Friends of the Earth says post them all


Tom Clements of environmentalist group Friends of the Earth has been a longstanding critic of the V.C. Summer nuclear reactor project that went belly-up last week.

In May, long before partners Santee Cooper and SCE&G decided to pull the plug on it, he sent records requests, under the state’s Freedom of Information statute, to Santee Cooper and the state Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS), asking for all public records created or retained by the agencies in 2017 pertaining to SCE&G and its parent company SCANA, the state’s Public Service Commission, and other concerned parties, “to determine what the agencies knew about the bankruptcy of Westinghouse,” the contractor on the reactor project, “before it was filed on March 29, 2017,” according to a press release today from Friends of the Earth.

Several months ago, Friends of the Earth received responses to its requests.

ORS said fees for the records could costs $500 or more.

Santee Cooper said the cost of fulfilling the request would be… $10,839.60.

“Release of the documents is essential as they will shed light on the state’s role in how the failure of the project developed from the day it was proposed in 2008,” Clements said in the statement.

“While charging some fees for FOIA requests may be valid, given the urgency of this matter both ORS and Santee Cooper must use their discretion and show willingness to serve the public interest by releasing the documents in their entirety and without charge.”

Speaking by phone, Clements elaborated: “They should create an online digital library on this whole nuclear project, and start posting documents to show that they’re being open and honest,” he said. “If they were serious they would do it on their own, with no charge.”

Santee Cooper spokesperson Mollie Gore said Clements had asked “for an exceptionally large number of documents,” which would entail “a lot of staff time to prepare,” hence the hefty fee.

“We are making information public,” she continued. “We had a pretty detailed presentation at our board meeting last week.”

She said the state-owned utility wants “to serve the general public.”

ORS executive director Dukes Scott, after noting that the bill for his agency’s records was a comparative bargain, said creating an online digital library, as Clements proposes, is “not that simple. Somebody has got to go through all these documents and emails. It’s not like we have files here and all we have to do is put it on the system.”

ORS, he said, already posts a lot of information on its website. “We try to keep the public informed.”

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  • Philip Branton

    Ha………If they don’t release the records, the NSA……will. (…. Or the friends of Google and Palintir)

    Do these legal Yahoos for Santee and SCANA not have a legal department that understands counter intelligence..?
    If these legal “eagles” think that they can skate while the CEO and Boards go down……think again.
    If they wait (which they will most certainly do..)…. their plights that much more leveraged.

    This is classic Psyops…..don’t think for one minute that McMaster will not look in an envelope…..

  • OldMarineFE

    Records for ANY government subsidized entity, especially a public entity that goes belly up, are considered public knowledge, but we may have to wait for court filings/orders. These scumbags have been ska-ROOING SC citizens for long enough! Time to drain & clean the swamp! Time for a new party to take over!

    Join the SC Constitution Party, to fight against these blatantly corrupt politicians and “gangs” here…

  • Evinrude 27

    let me get this straight… you think you’ve “gone public” because you had a “pretty detailed presentation at your Board meeting last week???”

    I am struggling to find the words that capture the breadth of the ineptitude encompassed in that one little sentence. Yowzers!

  • Lyn Wilson

    When the decision to scrub the project was announced, it was stated that Santee cooper had made numerous attempts to sell their portion of the project without success. In the Post and Courier 8/10/17, Gov. McMaster said that the state had several interested potential buyers for Santee Cooper. Which is it? The P&C also had a couple of articles about SC legislators scrambling to ‘do something’ about this mess. My gut feeling is that this project collapse has partially “pulled back the curtain” and exposed legislators, SCANA, Santee Cooper, Public Service Commissioners, and others massively on the take and scamming SC consumers to line their own pockets. The interviews and statements from SCANA officials have not helped their image, illustrating a cavalier and condescending attitude towards consumers, and a callously presumptive belief that not only will they not make any reparations, they fully expect the consumer to contribute another $5 billion to complete ‘project close-out’.