Last Friday, in a major environmental victory, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit three-judge panel unanimously ruled against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) "Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision." Plaintiffs, including the States of CT, NJ, NY, and VT -- as well as an environmental coalition comprised of BREDL (Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League), NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Riverkeeper, and SACE (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy), represented by NRDC's Geoff Fettus and Diane Curran of the law firm Harmon, Curran, Speilberg + Eisenberg, LLP -- successfully argued that NRC's environmental assessment of the safety and security risks of on-site storage of high-level radioactive waste at atomic reactors has been woefully inadequate for decades. Proposed new reactor licenses, and old reactor license extensions, could now face major delays, as NRC is forced, under court order, to carry out the long overdue environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
However, anti-nuclear watchdogs must re-double their vigilance, as the nuclear establishment in industry and government is already twisting this court victory into a call for "centralized interim storage" parking lot dumps. This would rush risky "Mobile Chernobyls" or "dirty bombs on wheels" onto the roads, rails, and waterways of most states, passing through major metropolitan areas where high-level radioactive waste is not currently located.
The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill (S. 2465; see Section 312, pages 58 to 62), sponsored by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), has already passed her subcommittee, as well as the full U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee (ironically enough, on April 26th, the 26th annual commemoration of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe). S. 2465 would establish and fund "pilot programs" in centralized interim storage, and must be stopped. Help block it by contacting your two U.S. Senators, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Urge that S. 2465 not be moved to the Senate floor, due to the risky radioactive waste shell game its Section 312 would launch.