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Supreme Court Declines Nuclear Waste Case

December 12, 2005 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 83, Issue 50

The Supreme Court last week refused to review an appellate court ruling that blocked a series of Utah laws aimed at preventing the construction of a private nuclear waste facility about 50 miles from Salt Lake City. The decision was a victory for Private Fuel Storage LLC, a consortium of eight electric utilities that plan to store 44,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel on the Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation. Without comment, the high court let stand a 2004 ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld an earlier district court decision striking down five laws passed by the Utah legislature that sought to halt the $3.1 billion project. The lower courts agreed that the Utah lawmakers had overstepped their legal bounds by preempting Congress' role in regulating nuclear material under the Atomic Energy Act. In September, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a license for the PFS facility, which would temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors across the U.S. until completion of the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Utah has asked a federal appeals court to review NRC's license authorization.


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