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Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping v. Department of Energy

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20098
Nos. No. 04-2314, (10th Cir., 05/03/2007)

The Tenth Circuit upheld a lower court decision denying a citizen group's lawsuit to enjoin the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) approved operation of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a nuclear waste repository located in southeastern New Mexico. The group argued that DOE relied on faulty data regarding the subsurface geomorphology of the site in its environmental review, thereby under-representing the environmental hazards of waste storage at the site in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The lower court properly upheld DOE's approval. DOE was not arbitrary and capricious in its review of the geological data before it. It did not ignore the "Magenta" layer in its evaluation, but rather provided careful and reasoned explanations for modeling the "Culebra" instead. Based on the record, therefore, DOE did not make a "clear error in judgment" in concluding that its site modeling was adequate. Nor did the district court abuse its discretion in rejecting the group's proffer of extra-record evidence in its review of the agency decision.