Green groups sue feds over nuclear waste rules

Nine green groups filed a lawsuit against the nation’s top nuclear regulator over its regulations on nuclear waste disposal on Wednesday.

The groups say that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should stop issuing licenses for nuclear power plants because the government has yet to build a federal nuclear waste disposal site.

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The final storage rule says waste can indefinitely be stored at decommissioned nuclear plants.

The environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, argue the disposal of reactor fuel is a big public health and environmental problem that can only be contained by a site like the proposed Yucca Mountain waste dump in Nevada.

The Yucca site has been delayed for decades, the groups said, making it nearly impossible to safely dispose of nuclear waste.

“The NRC has not dealt seriously with the safety and environmental risks posed by extended spent fuel storage and disposal,” said Diane Curran, the attorney handling the case for the nine green groups.

"The rule does not make findings regarding the feasibility of safely disposing of spent fuel, as required under the Atomic Energy Act.  And neither the rule nor the environmental impact statement even addresses the question of whether reactors should be licensed given the environmental risks and high costs of spent fuel storage and disposal,” Curran added.