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York Comm. for a Safe Env't v. NRC

ELR Citation: 6 ELR 20107
Nos. No. 74-1923, 527 F.2d 812/8 ERC 1646/(D.C. Cir., 12/09/1975)

The Court of appeals remands this petition for review of the licensing of a light-water-cooled nuclear reactor in York County, Pennsylvania, to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for an individualized consideration of the costs and benefits of reducing radioiodine exposure from the reactor to below 15 millirems per year. NRC's governing regulations require licensees to maintain levels of radioactive emissions "as low as practicable,' which standard is defined by qualitative parameters of technology, economics, and public health and safety. An interpretative Regulatory Guide issued by NRC took the position that the regulations were satisfied by a quantitative emission of 15 millirems or less per year. Since, however, the regulations' qualitative factors vary according to each individual reactor the Commission cannot legally specify that a particular numerical value will in every instance satisfy the "low as practicable" requirement.No individualized cost-benefit balancing was performed in this case. Although cumulative radiation effects are relevant to the licensing question, they do not bear on the determination whether or not a particular reactor meets the "as low as practicable" standard. The low level of current emissions does not require suspension of the operating license during the proceedings. The petitioners' request for financial and technical assistance is not reached.

Counsel for Petitioners
Raymond L. Hovis
Stock & Leader
35 South Duke St.
York, PA 17401
(717) 843-8871

Counsel for Respondents
Herbert J. Martin
Raymond M. Zimmet
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555
(202) 492-7000

Edmund B. Clark
Larry G. Gutteridge
Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 737-8200

Counsel for Intervenor Philadelphia Electric Company
Troy B. Conner Jr.
Conner, Hadlock & Knotts
1747 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 833-3500

Before WRIGHT, TAMM, and WILKEY, Circuit Judges.