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Friday, September 08, 2017

Hurricane Irma Price Gouging Reports Climb To More Than 3,000

PROSECUTE  

ORLANDO SENTINEL
By Krista Torralva
09/07/2017

More than 3,000 complaints accusing stores of price gouging related to Hurricane Irma have come into the Florida Attorney General’s Office as of Thursday morning.


Consumers called the attorney general’s Price Gouging Hotline to report price surges in water, ice, fuel, lumber and other supplies since the hotline was activated Sunday, office spokeswoman Kylie Mason said.

Thursday morning, Bondi said, “We've never seen our hotline like this in history.”

The majority of the calls have come from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.


“The worst call I got today, and this was the worst of the worst, was a 24 pack of six-ounce bottles of water, for $72 … $72,” said Martin Green, a call center operator. “That was in Jupiter today.”

The Florida price-gouging statute makes it illegal during an emergency to sell items such as gas, food, water and hotel rooms for prices that “grossly exceed” the average price during the previous 30 days. But cost increases are not necessarily price gouging. The Attorney General’s Office looks at price-gouging allegations case by case, Mason said.


Chevron, criminal oil companies gouge Florida residents attempting to flee hurricane Irma, should be held responsible and accountable for any deaths resulting

Some stores, such as The Home Depot, freeze their prices when a state of emergency is declared. On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all of Florida’s 67 counties.

“I can’t fix it if you don’t tell me it’s broken,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said Wednesday night. She also said her office was working with Amazon to make sure third-party vendors on their site weren’t scamming customers, adding that the company had identified 12 sellers who were price-gouging on water.

Bondi said Amazon would reimburse customers.


South Florida residents evacuate - what happens to those that cannot afford to criminal oil company price gougers like Chevron?

Here are some tips as you’re scanning the aisles.

Check The Return Policy

If you’re buying large-ticket items you might return if the storm bypasses Central Florida, such as generators or large coolers, make sure you know the store’s return policy. The Better Business Bureau processed complaints in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew last year about stores that would not take back items in an attempt to make up for their own losses, said Holly Salmons, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida. Stores must disclose their return policy at the time of sale and cannot refuse items.




Airlines Don’t Count

Florida’s price-gouging statute does not apply to airlines that are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Some airlines are capping fares to and from Florida. Most airlines typically offer travel vouchers for flights that were already booked and are affected.

Bolster Your Case

If you think you’ve identified price gouging, the Attorney General’s Office advises collecting as much information as possible. Keep estimates, receipts or bills. Make sure you’re making comparisons to the same product. Look at product name, size, quantity, manufacturer, item number and unit price. Check the grade, thickness and quality of lumber products. Document the per-mile charge, removal charges, per-day storage charges, and any other additional charges such as security and cleanup for services.




Call the Attorney General’s Price Gouging Hotline

The number is 1-866-966-7226. Violations may also be reported online at http://myfloridalegal.com and by mail addressed to:

Office of the Attorney General

The Capitol, PL-01Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050.

News Service of Florida contributed to this report.



This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Two Florida Nuclear Plants Are in Irma’s Projected Path — One Already Leaking

American Fukushima  

ANTI-MEDIA
By Carey Wedler
09/07/2017

Two nuclear sites in Florida are in the path of Hurricane Irma. 


Though the plants’ owners are confident they can withstand the storm and the facilities have withstood previous hurricanes, concerns are being raised about their durability as one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Atlantic approaches.

The two plants in question are the Turkey Point plant near Homestead, FL, and the St. Lucie plant in Port St. Lucie. According to Peter Robbins, a spokesman for the Florida Light & Power, which owns both sites:


“St. Lucie was originally designed and built decades ago to withstand flooding and hurricanes. It’s designed beyond the most severe natural disasters we’ve ever seen in the region. It’s absolutely designed to withstand extreme flooding.”

According to a report by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, St. Lucie survived with minimal significant damage. That report, published in November 2005, found:

“Although the hurricanes disrupted operation of the impacted NPPs [nuclear power plants], they did not have a significant impact on nuclear safety. The reportable impacts on the NPPs were mainly confined to the three areas of complete or partial loss of offsite power (LOOP), loss of sirens, and loss of communications equipment.”




Of course, the commission is tasked with keeping these facilities safe, so it’s worth considering the potential bias of a report from an entity bearing responsibility for potential damages. Nevertheless, Robbins said this week that in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, the industry in general “beefed up” their preparedness levels. “The industry has set up two regional response centers that have equipment that could be airlifted to a crippled nuclear plant, if necessary,” he told TC Palm. He also said they have backup generators on hand in case the reactors are shut down.

Turkey Point has also been deemed resilient against natural disasters. According to a 1993 report sponsored by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Turkey Point successfully survived Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, the plant remained stable and its “vital areas were secure and never jeopardized by the storm.”




Even so, the plant sustained $90 million in damage. A note from the NRC concluded:
“The onsite damage included loss of all offsite power for more than 5 days, complete loss of communication systems, closing of the access road, and damage to the fire protection and security systems and warehouse facilities.”

It continued:

“There was no damage to the safety-related systems except for minor water intrusion and some damage to insulation and paint, and there was no radioactive release to the environment. The units remained in a stable condition and functioned as designed.”

The note also cautioned that the facilities were not designed to weather hurricane-force winds, though Robbins said this week that they have extra fuel and generators on hand, stressing Turkey Point, like St. Lucie, was safe.




Perhaps more concerning is that the Turkey Point plant’s old cooling canal system has been leaking polluted water into Biscayne Bay. The New York Times noted last year that a study found “elevated levels of salt, ammonia, phosphorous and tritium, a radioactive isotope that is found in nature but also frequently associated with nuclear power plants.”

Though the levels of tritium were reportedly too low to harm people, they were enough for scientists to determine that the plant was the source. Environmentalists worried about marine life and the plant’s owners’ slow reaction to remedy the leak. It’s unclear how a hurricane might affect the already leaking facility.

Regardless, Robbins says Florida Light & Power is prepared to shut down the sites if it looks like Irma will hit them. “If we anticipate there will be direct impacts on either factory we’ll shut down the units,” he told the Miami Herald, noting doing so is a gradual process.


A general view of the Turkey Point Nuclear Reactor Building in Homestead  Photo: Getty

According to the Herald:

“In anticipation of powerful Hurricane Irma, which projections on Wednesday showed headed straight for South Florida, Florida Power & Light’s two nuclear plants were finalizing staffing plans and cleaning up the grounds. But neither Turkey Point nor the St. Lucie plant farther up the coast had made the call yet to shutting down the plants.”

It is still unclear whether Irma will hit Florida, though if it does, it will likely do so this weekend or early next week. The National Hurricane Center predicts that should it hit Florida, it will likely remain a Category 5 storm or weaken to Category 4.




This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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