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Natural Resources Defense Council v. Vaughn

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20903
Nos. No. 82-3173, 566 F. Supp. 1472/19 ERC 1517/(D.D.C., 07/15/1983)

The court rules that the restart of a nuclear reactor at the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina is a major federal action requiring preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court rules that the Department of Energy's (DOE's) conclusion that the restart is not significant is arbitrary and an abuse of discretion since the environmental assessment reveals significant effects on wetlands and wildlife in the area. The court rejects DOE's argument that for continuing activities it must consider only impacts in addition to those resulting from the activities in the past. The environment as it exists at the time of the agency decision to take action is the benchmark for measuring the significance of the action for NEPA purposes. The court orders DOE to prepare the EIS, but refuses to grant a preliminary injunction stopping restart of the reactor.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
S. Jacob Scherr
Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
1725 I St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 223-8210

Kenneth P. Woodington, Ass't Attorney General
R.C. Dennis Bldg., P.O. Box 11549, Columbia SC 29211
(803) 758-3970

Counsel for Defendants
Perry E. Wallace Jr.
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5395