Water, Earth, Sky

Scott Shenk writes about the environment.

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NRC takes step back on reactor decisions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has put a hold on final  decisions on pending nuclear power plant licenses and license renewals for existing plants. Among those is Dominion power’s  application for a third reactor at North Anna Power Station.  The NRC’s announcement is in response to a June 8 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A three-judge panel held that the NRC  did not conduct sufficient environmental review under the   National Environmental Policy Act  in the agency’s finding that a permanent repository for highly radioactive spent fuel will be available  when necessary, and that the fuel can be safely stored at reactor sites for at least 60 years.  The NRC  says  licensing activities will continue, but  that any final decisions would wait until it has  addressed the court’s concerns. Read the commission’s order on waste confidence petitions here.  Lou Zeller,  executive director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, which opposes a third reactor at North Anna, had this response to the NRC action:  “It appears that the commissioners have, at least initially, grasped the magnitude of the court’s ruling and we are optimistic that it will set up fundamentally transparent, fair process under the National Environmental Policy Act to examine the serious environmental impacts spent nuclear fuel storage and disposal prior to licensing and relicensing nuclear reactors.”