Rusty Dennen writes about the environment and the great outdoors.
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.”