Appeals court rejects waste storage at nuke plants

By Matthew Daly

Associated Press

Published: Friday, June 8 2012 11:59 a.m. MDT

** FILE ** In this June 25, 2002 file photo, the view from the summit ridge of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump near Mercury, Nev.,looking west towards California. For two decades, a ridge of volcanic rock 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas known as Yucca Mountain has been the sole focus of government plans to store highly radioactive nuclear waste. Thursday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Senate hearing that the Yucca Mountain site no longer was viewed as an option for storing reactor waste, brushing aside criticism from several Republican lawmakers. (AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta, File)

JOE CAVARETTA, AP

Enlarge photo»

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court has thrown out a rule that allows nuclear power plants to store radioactive waste at reactor sites for up to 60 years after a plant shuts down.

The appeals court, in a unanimous ruling Friday, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not fully evaluate the risks associated with long-term storage of waste. The court said on-site storage has been "optimistically labeled" as temporary, but has stretched on for decades.

The Obama administration has cut off funding for a proposed nuclear waste dump in Nevada, but has not identified an alternative site.

The appeals court said the NRC should complete a detailed environmental review of on-site storage or explain why one is not needed.

The lawsuit was filed by four Northeastern states, led by New York.

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