A federal court in New York has granted the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit challenging the agency’s grant of an exemption from insulation standards to a nuclear plant in conjunction with permits to operate. Brodsky v. NRC, No. 09‑10594 (S.D.N.Y. 3/4/11).

Filed by a former New York state assemblyman and the Sierra Club, the lawsuit alleged that the agency’s 2007 decision violated the Atomic Energy Act, Administrative Procedure Act and NEPA. According to the complaint, the exemption allowed the plant to avoid insulation requirements for electrical cables that control reactor shutdown in an emergency, critical to protect against a meltdown. The court determined that NRC’s decision to grant the exemption was neither arbitrary nor capricious, concluding that the agency had performed a comprehensive safety review before granting the exemption. The court also rejected plaintiffs’ arguments that NRC lacked the authority to grant the exemption and ruled that the agency was not required to hold a public hearing before doing so or to conduct a more thorough environmental review.