The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed petitions for review filed by entities “that are home to sites that temporarily store spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste” to challenge recent federal actions indicating “a desire” to abandon the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. In Re: Aiken County, No. 10-1050 (D.C. Cir. 7/1/11). Petitioners alleged that the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) recent actions, including an attempt to withdraw the project’s license application, violated the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, NEPA and Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
Rejecting petitioners’ arguments, the court ruled that DOE’s actions did not constitute final agency actions under the APA and were, therefore, not reviewable by the court. The court held that the petitioners’ claims were premature until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) acts on DOE’s motion to withdraw the application or issues a decision on the license application. Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, NRC must issue a final decision approving or denying the application within three years. DOE submitted the application on June 17, 2008, with a possible 12-month extension allowed.