N.Y. AG sues federal nuclear agency

Keith Loria Feb. 15, 2011, 4:26pm


BUCHANAN, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Tuesday that he has filed a lawsuit against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for approving a regulation he alleges would be dangerous to the environment.

Schneiderman wants a plan that would have Indian Point and nuclear power facilities across the nation to act as storage sites for radioactive waste for at least 60 years after their closure to be reviewed more carefully.

By approving the regulation, Schneiderman alleges that the federally required review of the public health, safety and environmental hazards such storage would pose would not be completed.

Schneiderman is leading a coalition of state attorneys general, including those in Connecticut and Vermont, in asking the federal government to step in and conduct all necessary impact studies before deciding if nuclear waste should be stored onsite or not.

"Whether you're for or against re-licensing Indian Point, we can all agree on one thing: Before dumping radioactive waste at the site for at least 60 years after it's closed, our communities deserve a thorough review of the environmental, public health, and safety risks such a move would present," Schneiderman said.

"This is not just a safety and environmental issue, but also one that could affect property values in Westchester, and I am committed to forcing the feds to take the hardest look possible at the risks of long-term, onsite storage, before they allow our communities to become blighted and our families, properties, and businesses threatened by radioactive waste dumps for generations to come."

In his suit, Schneiderman challenges both an NRC rule amending federal regulations and its "Waste Confidence Decision Update," alleging that both violate the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, which are federal laws.

Schneiderman alleges that the NRC violated the two federal laws when it discovered that no significant safety or environmental impacts will result from storing highly radioactive nuclear wastes onsite at the more than 100 operating reactors around the country for 60 or more years after the reactors are closed. This was done without the proper review, Schneiderman alleges.

The attorney general also believes that the NRC violated these laws when it found "reasonable assurance" that sufficient, licensed, off-site storage capacity will be available to dispose of nuclear power plant waste "when necessary."

The suit alleges that the NRC is required to conduct a site-by-site analysis of the potential for environmental, health and safety impacts to be in full compliance with the APA and NEPA. Schneiderman said that any analysis done in a thorough and objective manner would identify all environmental, health and safety risks related to long-term, onsite storage of radioactive waste at each site.

Schneiderman is seeking a court order to invalidate the rule and remand it back to NRC with a directive that the commission comply fully with both the APA and NEPA.

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