Thursday, December 29, 2011

Missouri Attorney General Settles With LCD Manufacturers Regarding Price Fixing Regulation

Attorney General Koster announces settlements with major foreign LCD manufacturers in price-fixing litigation Jefferson City, Mo. –

Attorney General Chris Koster said today that he has reached settlements with five of the seven defendants he sued in August 2010 for fixing the prices of flat screen LCD panels.

The settlements will provide restitution to Missouri consumers and to Missouri governmental purchasers that bought LCD monitors,
notebook computers, and LCD televisions between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2006.

The settlements also include payment of civil penalties to the state. Among the defendants Koster settled with are Hitachi, Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and Sharp Corporation. “These settlements are another example of my office’s commitment to ensuring that companies that fix prices have to compensate Missouri citizens and the state,” Koster said. “Even when the meetings to fix prices are held in Asia, my office will not hesitate to pursue the wrongdoers.” In addition to settling Missouri’s claims, the settlements, valued at over $500 million, resolve the claims of seven other state Attorneys General and a national class action.

The settlements were filed in federal court in San Francisco Friday. No distributions will occur until the court approves the settlements and the litigation against the remaining defendants is completed. Missouri is scheduled to go to trial with the remaining defendants in November 2012. “When all the litigation is concluded, we will encourage Missourians to file claims so they can recover what we alleged was overpaid for these products,” said Koster. The settlements will provide redress to Missouri residents and businesses as well as governmental entities. Following completion of the litigation, a claims process will be announced. Information about how to file a claim will be available at the Attorney General’s office’s website, http://www.ago.mo.gov/.

Missouri residents and businesses who would like a notice mailed to them when it is time to file a claim are invited to write or e-mail the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to provide their address.

Such requests may be e-mailed to LCD-Litigation@ago.mo.gov or may be mailed to the Attorney General’s Office at P.O. Box 899, Jefferson City, Missouri, 65102.

Koster said his office, along with several other state attorneys general, had been investigating the industry for more than two years. He said the investigation uncovered evidence of a high-level conspiracy involving secret meetings in which the companies’ executives allegedly agreed to raise prices for their LCD screens. Koster’s litigation continues against LG Display Co., Ltd., AU Optronics Corporation, and their American subsidiaries.

A number of the companies Koster sued already have pleaded guilty to federal antitrust charges, which resulted in more than $890 million in criminal fines. Defendants LG Display Co., Ltd. and LG Display America, Inc, pleaded guilty to federal charges for fixing the prices of TFT-LCD panels in 2008 and paid $400 million in federal fines. Defendants AU Optronics Corporation, and AU Optronics Corporation America, along with several employees, have been indicted on charges of price fixing and are scheduled to go to trial in January on those criminal charges. Defendants who have agreed to settle the lawsuit are Chimei Innolux Corp., Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA, Inc., Chi Mei Optoelectronics Japan Co., Ltd, HannStar Display Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Displays, Ltd., Hitachi Electronic Devices, USA, Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung Semiconductor, Inc., Sharp Corporation, and Sharp Electronics Corporation. Koster serves as the national co-chair of the antitrust committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, and is a leading voice for antitrust prosecution nationally.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nukes Russian Missles to U.S. Nuke Fuel

Process: Turning Russian Missiles Into U.S. Nuke Fuel

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

The end of the Cold War created a problem: what to do with the USSR’s nuke stockpile. The solution: a 1993 agreement to convert 500 metric tons of Soviet weapons-grade uranium into fuel for American nuclear plants. Russia got paid, the US got power, and scientists who might otherwise have gone rogue got jobs. Former warheads now fuel about 10 percent of the electricity the US consumes. When the program finishes in 2013, the equivalent of 20,000 Soviet missiles will have been repurposed to light the same US homes they were built to annihilate. Here’s how it’s being done.

How Soviet warheads are transformed into fuel for US nuclear plants.

Dismantle

Russians have classified some of this process, but it’s likely that technicians at disassembly plants in four cities, including the once-secret Sverdlovsk-45, first remove the missile casing and then separate the high explosives (which would have been used to set off the initial nuclear reaction) from the highly enriched uranium components.


Oxidate

Uranium is shipped by rail or truck in sealed containers to plants at one of two “closed” cities: Seversk or Ozersk. There, the material is machined into metal shavings with a lathe and roasted at 1,000 degrees Celsius in an ovenlike box, which oxidizes the metal and converts it to highly enriched uranium oxide powder (U308).


Fluorinate

At Seversk or the Electrochemical Plant in central Russia, U38 is injected into a flame reactor, which combines the powder with gaseous fluorine to produce highly enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a white crystal resembling rock salt.


Blend

To transform the weapons-grade material into nuke fuel—called downblending—a T-pipe unit heats the crystalline UF6 to a gas and mixes it with 1.5 percent low enriched uranium gas. The resulting substance is about 5 percent low-enriched uranium-235—bad for bombs but great for nuclear plants.


Transport

The final product is loaded into supersturdy 2.5-ton steel containers, shipped by rail to Saint Petersburg, transported by cargo ship to the Port of Baltimore, and trucked to a uranium enrichment facility in Paducah, Kentucky. After testing to ensure it meets US standards, it’s sold to companies that turn the material into fuel rods.


Illustrations: Jameson Simpson

Posted via email from Missouri News

Wednesday, December 14, 2011