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Energy

Court upholds regulation on nuclear fuel storage

by Glenn Hess, special to C&EN
June 13, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 24

A federal appeals court has upheld a Nuclear Regulatory Commission rule that allows spent nuclear fuel to be stored at power plants. Four states asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the 2014 regulation, arguing NRC failed to comply with its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act. “The petitioners contend that the NRC did not 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 environmental impact statement,” Senior Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle wrote in the court’s opinion. “Because we hold that the NRC did not engage in arbitrary or capricious decision-making, we deny the petitions for review.” As a result, NRC can continue to give nuclear plants permission to store their spent fuel rods on-site indefinitely. The attorneys general of New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut filed the lawsuit shortly after NRC voted to make its regulation and environmental impact statement final.

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