A federal appeals court’s unanimous decision today forces the country to re-evaluate the environmental impacts of the storage and disposal of its nuclear waste in a way that has never been done before.
The decision will send the Nuclear Regulatory Commission back to square one to determine the safety and consequences of allowing nuclear reactors to produce and accumulate radioactive nuclear waste, including the potential environmental effects of the failure to develop a geologic repository.
“This is a game changer,” said Geoff Fettus, senior project attorney in the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This forces the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take a hard look at the environmental consequences of producing highly radioactive nuclear waste without a long-term disposal solution. The court found: 'The Commission apparently has no long-term plan other than hoping for a geologic repository.’”
The court granted petitions for review by the environmental community and the states by vacating the NRC's recent Waste Confidence Decision and the associated Temporary Storage Rule.
Geoff Fettus of NRDC argued the case in March before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, with co-counsel Diane Curran who represented the other environmental petitioners, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Riverkeeper,Inc., and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.