• The risk of a catastrophic release of radiation from an accident at a spent nuclear fuel pool is much higher in the United States than at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies. Spent fuel at many U.S. plants in facilities that were never designed for long-term storage exceeds that stored at the four damaged units of the Japanese plant. For example, the spent fuel in a pool at Vermont Yankee plant exceeds the combined total in the pools at the four troubled reactors at the Fukushima site. There are more than 30 million spent fuel rods in these storage pools in the U.S., the "largest concentration of radioactivity on the planet," according to author Robert Alvarez. The institute recommends moving most of the spent fuel from pools to dry air-cooled steel casks, which is a safer storage method.
• In a split vote on a contentious proposal, the Securities Exchange Commission decided to allow whistleblowers to be rewarded between 10 percent and 30 percent of the sanctions collected in enforcement cases. "The SEC refused to buckle under tremendous pressure from Wall Street lobbyists led by the Chamber of Commerce who worked overtime trying to undermine historic corporate whistleblower protections," said National Whistleblowers Center director Stephen Kohn. Earlier, the agency's enforcement chief Robert Khuzami testified that they have seen an uptick in "high-quality tips" and complaints since the Dodd-Frank Law and said that the SEC is not aware of any empirical data suggesting that internal compliance will be undermined by not having an internal reporting requirement. "The SEC refused to buckle under tremendous pressure from Wall Street lobbyists led by the Chamber of Commerce who worked overtime trying to undermine historic corporate whistleblower protections," Kohn said.
• When drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to delay approval of a genetic drug that would cut into the profits of its blockbuster blood-thinner Lovenox, it relied on some heavy hitters, including the Society of Hospital Medicine and the North American Thrombosis Forum. Among those pleading its case before the agency was Dr. Victor Tapson, who sent a letter on behalf of the American College of Chest Physicians -- unmentioned was that Tapson has been paid $260,000 by Sanofi between 2007 and 2010, according to a new report released by the Senate Finance Committee this morning.
• AMD Industries in Cicero, Ill. was fined $1.2 million for exposing five workers to asbestos hazards without protection by the Occupational and Safety Health Administration. That includes 19 willful citations -- which refers to violations that demonstrate an intentional disregard for the law or "plain indifference to employee safety and health."
• Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe is challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's $1.2 billion budget request because he claims it has more than $2 billion left over from the 2011 budget.
• The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is offering regulatory relief to banks and financial institutions that "work constructively with borrowers experiencing difficulties beyond their control because of damage caused by the severe weather around the country.
• Here it is -- the animated GIF of Elizabeth Warren's reaction to being called a liar by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) during a contentious end-of-hearing dispute over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.
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