Monday, June 25, 2012

Major court victory against NRC's Nuclear Waste "Con Game"!

U.S. Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors - Years of Operation

A coalition of several states, environmental groups, and a Native American nation have scored a major federal court victory against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) "Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision," more accurately described as a "con game" (a "confidence game" is defined as "any swindle in which the swindler, after gaining the confidence of the victim, robs the victim by cheating at gambling, appropriating funds entrusted for investment, or the like.") NRC has used its "Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision" for decades, to block states, Native American nations, and environmental groups from challenging NRC licenses for new reactors, or license extensions for old reactors, which inevitably lead to the generation of massive amounts of deadly high-level radioactive waste, for which there is no solution.

The Offices of Attorneys General for the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont, the Prairie Island Indian Community of Minnesota (on irradiated nuclear fuel storage issues), and an environmental coalition (on irradiated nuclear fuel disposal issues) represented by Natural Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) nuclear attorney Geoff Fettus and D.C.-based attorney Diane Curran, backed by expert witness Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of Institutue for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), have thus successfully challenged NRC's assertion that high-level radioactive wastes can be safely, securely, and soundly stored at reactor sites for 120 years (60 years of licensed operations, and 60 years post-operations). NRC has since undertaken a study about storing high-level radioactive waste at reactor sites for 200-300 years. Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), NRDC, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and Riverkeeper comprised the coalition of environmental plaintiffs.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Sentelle (a Republican appointee) wrote the unanimous ruling on behalf of Circuit Judges Griffith (also a Republican appointee) and Tatel (a Democratic appointee), including a summation.

The State of New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, a lead plaintiff, issued a press release, including this statement:
“This is a landmark victory for New Yorkers, and people across the country living in the shadows of nuclear power plants. We fought back against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's rubber stamp decision to allow radioactive waste at our nation’s nuclear power plants to be stored for decades after they’re shut down - and we won. The Court was clear in agreeing with my office that this type of NRC 'business as usual' is simply unacceptable. The NRC cannot turn its back on federal law and ignore its obligation to thoroughly review the environmental, public health, and safety risks related to the creation of long-term nuclear waste storage sites within our communities. Whether you're for or against re-licensing Indian Point and our nation’s aging nuclear power plants, the security of our residents who live in the areas that surround these facilities is paramount. I am committed to continuing to use the full force of my office to push the NRC to fully evaluate -- and ensure -- the safety of Indian Point and our other nuclear plants.”

Co-plaintiff William Sorrell, Attorney General of the State of Vermont, issued a press release, stating: “This outcome illustrates how important it is for states to work together on environmental matters of national importance. Today’s decision is a major victory for New York, Vermont, and all other states that host nuclear power plants. The court confirmed what Vermont and other states have said for many years now—that the NRC has a duty to inform the public about the environmental effects of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, particularly when it is occurring at nuclear power plants that were never designed to be long-term storage facilities."