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Vermont Joins Challenge Of Nuclear Regulatory Commission Rules On Storage Of Spent Nuclear Fuel

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-3173

February 15, 2011

Citing the need for the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to evaluate environmental risks associated with long-term onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel at locations such as the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, Attorney General William Sorrell joined New York and Connecticut today in the filing of a lawsuit against the NRC in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The lawsuit challenges two decisions by the NRC—the “Temporary Storage Rule” and its accompanying “Waste Confidence Decision Update.” “The public has a right to know how long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel will affect the environment, particularly when it is occurring at nuclear power plants that were never designed to be long-term storage facilities of spent nuclear fuel,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “Calling this a ‘temporary’ storage rule does not reflect reality when the rule allows spent nuclear fuel to be stored within Vermont’s borders for several generations to come," he added.

The NRC rules claim that there would be “no significant impact” on the environment, despite allowing spent nuclear fuel to be stored onsite at power plants such as the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station for as long as 60 years after the plants cease operating. The NRC rules assert that the environmental analysis is unnecessary because the NRC is confident that spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely at Vermont Yankee until 2072 (60 years from the end of the current license), or, if the plant is relicensed, until 2092. The lawsuit challenges the enactment of these rules.

Governor Peter Shumlin voiced his support for today’s action: “The continued storage of spent nuclear fuel on the banks of the Connecticut River, without any real plan for long-term disposal, is unacceptable. We strongly disagree with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s process and rule regarding nuclear waste management and fully support the Attorney General’s efforts on behalf of Vermonters.”

The suit asks the court to vacate the new rules and send the matter back to the NRC for a site-specific analysis of potential environmental impacts associated with onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.