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Coalition on W. Valley Nuclear Wastes v. Chu

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20203
Nos. No. 07-5243, (2d Cir., 08/31/2009)

The Second Circuit held that DOE's EIS concerning waste management activities at a nuclear service center near Buffalo, New York, complied with NEPA and with the terms of a 1987 settlement agreement between the agency and an environmental group. The EIS addressed only short-term, waste management activities for one portion of the site. The group argued that it was impermissible segmentation for the DOE not to consider overall closure issues for the entire center at the same time that it considered the waste management issues. The court disagreed. The group failed to identify any way in which the waste management activities that DOE contemplates will automatically trigger closure of the entire nuclear service center, nor have they persuasively argued that the waste management activities cannot proceed without closure. Similarly, the waste management activities that DOE is undertaking do not depend on the closure action for their justification. In addition, the 1987 stipulation entered between the parties did not in any way curtail DOE's ability to reevaluate its strategy for completing environmental impact review in response to comments and concerns raised after publication of an earlier draft EIS. The stipulation does not restrict DOE to any greater extent than NEPA.