- - Thursday, July 19, 2012


LOS ANGELES — Federal regulators Thursday concluded that the operator of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California did not mislead the government about extensive modifications to its troubled steam generators, where damage has been found on scores of tubes that carry radioactive water.

Environmental activists had accused Southern California Edison of duping the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about a series of changes to the massive machines, including boosting the number of tubes and redesigning internal supports.

The seaside plant between San Diego and Los Angeles has been shuttered since January, after a tube break in one of the generators released traces of radiation.

An NRC report concluded that Edison “provided the NRC with all the information required under existing regulations about proposed design changes to its steam generators,” according to an agency statement.

But a key issue remains under study: whether the agency needs to change the process that was used to approve the replacement generators.

Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who is a critic of the industry, said the agency was attempting to exonerate itself from blame for the plant’s ongoing troubles.


5 killed in chain-reactioncrash in work zone

ANTWERP — A chain-reaction crash that started when a tractor-trailer rear-ended a vehicle in a work zone in northern New York on Thursday left five people dead and two people critically injured, state police said.

Trooper Jack Keller said all five people killed were riding in an SUV that had stopped or was moving slowly Thursday morning because of road repaving on Route 11 in the Jefferson County town of Antwerp. He said the truck slammed into the back of one vehicle, causing collisions with a state Department of Transportation truck and the SUV, which burst into flames.

A woman and a transportation worker were in critical condition, Trooper Keller said. The tractor-trailer driver was taken to a hospital for treatment and was to be tested for drugs and alcohol, he said.

The SUV that carried five people was registered in New York, Trooper Keller said. Police were attempting to determine if all five victims were from the same family, he said.

The crash happened near Fort Drum, 85 miles northeast of Syracuse. The collision occurred along a straight, flat section of two-lane Route 11, the main east-west road across four rural northern counties along the Canadian border. There were plenty of signs warning motorists approaching the area that crews were working on the road, Trooper Keller said.

Transportation spokesman William Reynolds confirmed that a state crew was repaving the road and that one of the agency’s employees was injured and airlifted to a hospital in Syracuse.


Chick-fil-A surprises some with gay marriage talk

ATLANTA — Gay rights advocates were surprised Thursday that the president of fast-food chain Chick-fil-A has taken a public position against same-sex marriage.

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said this week that his privately owned company is “guilty as charged” in support of what he called the biblical definition of the family unit.

The Atlanta-based chain opened its first location in a Georgia mall in 1967 and has grown to more than 1,615 restaurants in 39 states and Washington, D.C., with annual sales more than $4.1 billion, according to its website.

“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Mr. Cathy told the Baptist Press, the news agency of the Southern Baptist Convention.

His comments to the Baptist Press, the news agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, unleashed a mix of criticism and support.

“He’s taking a bold stand,” said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, which is based in Washington, D.C. “Chick-fil-A is a bible-based, Christian-based business who treats their employees well. They have been attacked in the past about their stand. But they refuse to budge on this matter, and I commend them for what they are doing.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign that works for same-sex-marriage, said Thursday that Chick-fil-A “has finally come clean” after cloaking its positions for years.


Lab tech charged in hepatitis C probe

CONCORD — A former New Hampshire hospital employee has been charged with causing a hepatitis C outbreak involving patients who were treated at the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab.

U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas said Thursday that David Kwiatkowski, 33, a former lab technician at Exeter Hospital, has been charged with fraudulently obtaining drugs and tampering with a consumer product.

Altogether, 31 people have tested positive for the same strain of the disease since the investigation began in late May.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne viral infection that can cause liver disease and chronic health issues.


Police: Mom changedher kids’ grades

NEW TRIPOLI — A Pennsylvania woman allegedly changed her children’s grades after logging into a school computer system using passwords obtained when she worked for the district.

Investigators say Catherine Venusto used the Northwestern Lehigh School District superintendent’s password to change the grades. She was arraigned Wednesday on a half-dozen felony counts and released on bail.

Officials say Ms. Venusto changed a failing grade to a medical exception for he daughter in 2010, when she was still a district secretary. The New Tripoli woman is also accused of bumping one of her son’s grades from 98 to 99 percent in February.

State police say Ms. Venusto admitted changing the grades, saying she thought her actions were unethical but not illegal.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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