May 8, 2012
DiNapoli: Nuclear Power Safety Shareholder Resolution to be Voted on at Dominion Resources' Annual Meeting
Shareholders of Dominion Resources will vote today on a first-of-its-kind resolution regarding nuclear safety filed by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund). The resolution calls upon the company, which operates nuclear power plants in Connecticut, Virginia and Wisconsin, to appoint a committee of independent directors to conduct a special review of its nuclear safety policies and practices.
"It is imperative from both a fiduciary and human standpoint that companies which operate nuclear facilities do so with safety as the primary goal," DiNapoli said. "The Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan last year was a clarion call that nuclear power plants are vulnerable to increased seismic activity. I urge shareholders to ask Dominion to reassess and reevaluate its nuclear power safety in light of the seismic threats that we now know exist."
In August 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on the U.S. east coast caused Dominion Resources' North Anna Power Station in Louisa, Va., to lose normal grid power and shut down for several months. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) subsequently found the plant was not built to withstand an earthquake of that magnitude. Previously, the Union of Concerned Scientists had cited a 2010 incident at Dominion Resources' Surry One Reactor in Newport News, Va., in a report on nuclear reactor safety problems.
Independent studies have indicated that nuclear power plants continue to experience problems with safety-related equipment and worker errors that increase the risk of damage to the reactor cores. Recognized problems are often misdiagnosed or unresolved which can cause significant events at nuclear plants or increase their severity. Adding to these concerns, NRC regulators have noted that some U.S. nuclear plants built in past decades may not be adequately protected from seismic activity.
DiNapoli's resolution calls upon Dominion Resources to:
"…request that a committee of independent directors be appointed to conduct a special review of the company's nuclear safety policies and practices…including potential risks associated with seismic events in and around the company's nuclear power plants, and that that committee report to shareholders on its findings..."
As of May 4th, 2012, the Fund held approximately 2.15 million shares of Dominion Resources.
In 2012, the Fund has engaged with a number of portfolio companies with nuclear reactors on safety issues and received commitments from FirstEnergy and Westar Energy to conduct similar reviews.
The Fund's Corporate Governance Unit develops and implements policies that fulfill Comptroller DiNapoli's fiduciary responsibility by promoting good corporate governance practices. The unit prepares proxy voting policies, directs and monitors the voting process and prepares shareholder resolutions for introduction at corporate annual meetings.