Nuke chief: US plants safer after Japan crisis
Two years after the nuclear crisis in Japan, the top U.S. regulator says American nuclear power plants are safer than ever, though not trouble-free.
A watchdog group calls that assessment overly rosy.
“The performance is quite good,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane said in an interview with The Associated Press. All but five of the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors were performing at acceptable safety levels at the end of 2012, Macfarlane said, citing a recent NRC report.
But the watchdog group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, has issued a scathing report saying nearly one in six U.S. nuclear reactors experienced safety breaches last year, due in part to weak oversight.
Thousands in Spain protest joblessness
Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in dozens of Spanish cities Sunday to protest sky-high unemployment, what they say is the government’s inefficient handling of the economy and corruption scandals.
Many protesters carried placards critical of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ruling Popular Party, which is immersed in a corruption investigation centered on former treasurer Luis Barcenas and purported under-the-table payments to party officials while in opposition.
Spain’s unemployment rate is at 26 percent and the economy is immersed in its second recession in three years.
Qatar announces big natural-gas discovery
Qatar says it has found as much as 2.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in an offshore field.
Energy Minister Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sadah told reporters Sunday the discovery was made at the field known as Block 4 North, off the shore of the Gulf island nation.
The field is operated by Qatar Petroleum along with its partners, Mitsui Gas Development Qatar and Germany’s Wintershall.
OPEC member Qatar is a major exporter of oil and natural gas.
Officials: Offshore oil exploration is OK
Offshore oil exploration will be allowed off the Bahamas, the environ- mental minister said Sunday, adding that a voter referendum on whether to go forward with full production will be held only after it is determined whether the island chain has commercially viable reserves.
The exploratory drilling likely will not produce enough information to make a decision until late 2014 at the earliest, and the referendum could take place the next year, Environmental Minister Kenred Dorsett said.
Offshore drilling is a sensitive issue in the Bahamas, where many fear a spill could devastate the fishing and tourism industries.
The previous Bahamian government had delayed issuing exploration permits.
Selected local stocks
Aqua America, .70, 29.87 .22
Clear Channel, .33 32.60 .57
Cortland Bancorp, 11.00.00
Farmers Nat., .126.67 .05
First Energy, 2.20, 40.90.14
FirstMerit Corp., .64,15.45 .03
First Niles Financial, .32,7.18.00
First Place Fin., .0042.00
FNB Corp., .48,11.62—.02
General Electric, .76,23.77.09
Motors Liquidation, .0422.00
Huntington Bank, .16, 7.36.02
JP Morgan Chase, 1.20,50.20—.43
Key Corp, .20,9.85—.07
LaFarge, 17.80 .10
Macy’s, .80, 41.67.44
Parker Hannifin, 1.72, 97.93.69
RTI Intl. Metals,32.01.62
Simon Prop. Grp.,4.60,160.00—.08
Stoneridge 7.35 —.04
United Community Fin. 3.58.06
Selected prices at 4 p.m. Friday. Provided by Stifel Nicolaus. Not to be construed as an offer or recommendation to buy or sell any security.