US Legal Challenge to Onsite Waste Storage

A Federal Appeal Court in the USA has ruled that nuclear regulators did not fully assess the risks associated with allowing utilities to store their spent fuel onsite for decades longer than originally intended.

SENTELLE, Chief Judge: Four states, an Indian community, and a number of environmental groups petition this Court for review of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC� or “Commission�) rulemaking regarding temporary storage and permanent disposal of nuclear waste. We hold that  the rulemaking at issue here constitutes a major federal action necessitating either an environmental impact statement or a finding of no significant environmental impact. We further hold that the Commission’s evaluation of the risks of spent nuclear fuel is deficient in two ways: First, in concluding that permanent storage will be available “when necessary,� the Commission did not calculate the environmental effects of failing to secure permanent storage—a possibility that cannot be ignored. Second, in determining that spent fuel can safely be stored on site at nuclear plants for sixty years after the expiration of a plant’s license, the Commission failed to properly examine future dangers and key consequences. For these reasons, we grant the petitions for review, vacate the Commission’s orders, and remand for further proceedings.

Press report:

Court case:$file/11-1045-1377720.pdf

Blue R ibbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future:

More info on waste storage:

Over 1000 Tonnes of Nuclear Waste To Be Stored At Sizewell B

Spent Fuel At Sizewell


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