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Legal Envtl. Assistance Found. v. Hodel

Citation: 14 ELR 20425
No. No. 3-83-562, 586 F. Supp. 1163/20 ERC 2246/(E.D. Tenn., 04/13/1984)

The court rules that the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Y-12 nuclear weapons components plant is subject to the provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and that DOE has violated the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) by allowing unpermitted discharges of pollutants from the plant. The court first holds that plaintiff environmental groups have standing to bring the suit. The court then rules that RCRA § 1006(a), which excludes activities regulated by the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) from RCRA coverage, does not exclude activities at AEA federal facilities from RCRA if such regulation is consistent with the AEA. AEA § 161 does not vest DOE with exclusive authority to regulate health and safety at facilities like Y-12. Defendants have presented no evidence that enforcing RCRA would cause disclosure of data protected under the AEA. DOE may apply for presidential exemption from RCRA to protect national security interests under RCRA § 6001; absent such an application, the court should not weigh national security considerations. Thus, the court holds that applying RCRA to Y-12 is consistent with the AEA. The court also rules that DOE's discharge of pollutants at locations other than those listed in its national pollutant discharge elimination system permit is in violation of the FWPCA. The court rejects DOE's argument that plaintiffs' challenge could only have been brought within 90 days of the issuance of the permit, ruling that plaintiffs have a cause of action under FWPCA § 505 to enforce permit conditions. The court also rejects DOE's argument that the court should defer to the Environmental Protection Agency's expertise in determining whether the permit has been violated. However, the court declines to enjoin the operation of Y-12 or assess civil penalties, but simply orders DOE to comply with RCRA and the FWPCA.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Garry A. Davis
602 S. Gay St., Knoxville TN 37902
(615) 637-5172

Dean Hill Rivkin
6608 Crystal Lake Dr., Knoxville TN 37919
(615) 974-2331

Counsel for Plaintiff-Intervenor
Frank J. Scanlon, Ass't Attorney General
450 James Robertson Pkwy., Nashville TN 37219
(615) 741-1963

Counsel for Defendants
Dean K. Dunsmore
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2216

Jimmie Baxter, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 872, Knoxville TN 37901
(615) 673-4561