Nuclear Safety Questioned by Federal Court

Nuclear Waste Continues to Pile Up in the US

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted June 12, 2012

A new federal court ruling is calling for the reevaluation of the environmental impacts associated with nuclear waste.

“This forces the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take a hard look at the environmental consequences of producing highly radioactive nuclear waste without a long-term disposal solution. The court found: ‘The Commission apparently has no long-term plan other than hoping for a geologic repository,’” NRDC senior project attorney in the nuclear program Geoff Fettus stated.

Here are some of the key excerpts of the court’s ruling:

Page 3: 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.

Page 13: The Commission apparently has no long term plan other than hoping for a geologic repository. If the government continues to fail in its quest to establish one, then [spent nuclear fuel] will seemingly be stored on site at nuclear plants on a permanent basis. The Commission can and must assess the potential environmental effects of such a failure.