What Texas v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission tells us

October 9, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Here we go again: Another “workaround” on U.S. nuclear waste policy just got shot down in a federal courtroom. On August 25, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission lacked the authority to grant a license to Interim Storage Partners LLC (read: Waste Control Specialists) to accept and store up to 5,000 tons of used nuclear fuel at its proposed facility in Andrews County, Texas. Writing for the court, U.S. circuit judge James Ho found that “the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) creates a comprehensive statutory scheme for addressing spent nuclear fuel accumulation. The scheme prioritizes construction of the permanent repository and limits temporary storage to private, at-the-reactor storage or at federal sites. It plainly contemplates that, until there’s a permanent repository, spent nuclear fuel is to be stored onsite at-the-reactor or in a federal facility.”

This decision is not necessarily a knockout blow. The court’s reading of the law is, well, novel. Other appeals courts have recognized the NRC’s authority to license away-from-reactor storage, and the Supreme Court is likely to weigh in. But given the current high court’s proclivities on “textualism” and the Chevron doctrine, we shouldn’t consider it a slam dunk.

GAO urges Congress to address spent fuel stalemate

September 28, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Spent nuclear fuel in dry storage at the decommissioned Zion nuclear power plant in Illinois.

Congress needs to take action to break the impasse over a permanent solution for commercial spent nuclear fuel, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The GAO recommends that Congress amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) to authorize a new consent-based siting process, restructure the Nuclear Waste Fund, and direct the Department of Energy to develop and implement an integrated waste management strategy.

The GAO also recommends that the DOE finalize the consent-based process it began in 2015 for siting consolidated interim storage and permanent geologic repository facilities. The DOE agrees with that recommendation.

What does the Supreme Court have to do with nuclear waste?

October 7, 2020, 10:05AMANS Nuclear CafeSteve Nesbit

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American Nuclear Society.

As if COVID-19 and a rancorous presidential election were not enough, over the next few weeks we will also be dealing with the confirmation of a justice to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court. What does that have to do with the American Nuclear Society and nuclear technology? Well, nothing directly, but there is an interesting connection between the Supreme Court and a notable case on nuclear waste decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in August 2013.