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New York v. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20105
Nos. 14-1210, (D.C. Cir., 06/03/2016)

The D.C. Circuit denied several states', environmental groups', and Native Americans' petitions for review challenging an NRC rule and generic EIS concerning the continued, and possibly indefinite, storage of spent fuel from nuclear power plants in the United States. The petitioners argued that NRC violated NEPA because it failed to consider alternatives to and mitigation measures for the continued storage of spent nuclear fuel, miscalculated the impacts of continued storage, and relied on unreasonable assumptions in its EIS. But the generic EIS sufficiently analyzes the impacts of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel. It thoroughly considers essentially common risks to reactor sites. In addition, NRC adequately considered both the probability and consequences of failure to site a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel. In addition, NRC adequately assessed the cumulative impacts of the continued storage of spent nuclear fuel and adequately considered the risks of short-term, high-volume leaks. And NRC’s waiver provision provides an adequate mechanism by which the petitioners can challenge the generic EIS in site-specific proceedings. Nor were NRC's assumptions arbitrary and capricious. The court, therefore, denied the petitions for review, noting that petitioners should instead direct their concerns to Congress.