South Carolina and Washington, along with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and Nevada and South Carolina counties, have challenged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) failure to approve Yucca Mountain as the country’s nuclear waste repository. In re: Aiken County, S.C., No. n/a (D.D.C. filed 7/29/11). Petitioners seek a court order requiring the NRC to approve or reject the project.
On July 1, 2011, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a petition filed by the same parties seeking review of a U.S. Department of Energy decision to withdraw its application to the NRC for the project and the agency’s apparent decision to abandon the project. The appellate court dismissed the petition for review on the ground that NRC had not issued a final decision, making petitioners’ claims premature. Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA), the federal government was required to take ownership of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants starting in 1998. Petitioners claim that they are continuing to temporarily store nuclear waste, which remains untreated, because of NRC’s failure to comply with the terms of the NWPA.