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General Atomics v. NRC

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 20717
Nos. No. 95-55520, 75 F.3d 536/(9th Cir., 01/30/1996)

The court holds that a district court lacked jurisdiction over a parent corporation's challenge to a pending U.S. Nuclear Regualatory Commission (NRC) hearing to determine whether the company was liable for cleanup costs at the facility of its subsidiary, which is an NRC licensee. The NRC attempted to hold the parent jointly and severally liable with the subsidiary for the facility's cleanup, and planned a hearing on whether it could exercise jurisdiction over the parent. The court holds that the Hobbs Act applies to the suit. An NRC determination that a license was de facto granted to the parent when it bought the subsidiary would directly involve the granting and possible amending of the facility license, and under the Hobbs Act, all NRC orders regarding the granting or amending of a license are subject to exclusive court of appeals review. Additionally, the hearing involves the manner in which nonlicensees can control their subsidiaries consistent with an NRC license. The Hobbs Act directly preserves such a hearing for court of appeals review. Further, courts of appeals have exclusive jurisdiction to review NRC decisions regarding jurisdiction. The court next holds that a transfer of the case to the circuit court is inappropriate, because the circuit court lacks jurisdiction until the NRC issues a final order, thus, transfer to this court would not have been in the interest of justice. The court holds that the conditions for waiving the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement—that there is clear evidence that exhaustion of administrative remedies will result in irreparable injury, that the agency's jurisdiction is plainly lacking, and that the agency's special expertise will be of no help on the question of its jurisdiction—are not met. The financial distress the company suffers because of this litigation is not enough to invoke appellate review.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Stephen M. Duncan
Mays & Valentine
The Strand Center
110 S. Union St., Alexandria VA 22313
(703) 519-8000

Counsel for Defendants
Daryl M. Shapiro, Karen D. Cyr
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20530
(301) 492-7000

Before Hug, Alarcon, and Leavy, JJ.