Environment | Law

Prairie Island Indian Community wins a ruling on nuclear waste





The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday struck down a Nuclear Regulatory Commission rule in a lawsuit filed by the Prairie Island Indian Community of Minnesota and other parties.

The tribe's reservation sits next to a nuclear power plant. The NRC has allowed the facility to store its spent nuclear fuel on site for decades under a rule that labels the waste as "temporary."

"When on-site nuclear storage was first approved in our state 20 years ago, Minnesotans and the Prairie Island Indian Community were promised it would be temporary -- the federal government was to develop a national repository within two decades," President Johnny Johnson said in a press release.

The NRC failed to examine the impacts of "temporary" storage, the DC Circuit said in its unanimous decision. The environmental issues of each facility, including the one near the reservation, must be considered, the court determined.

"The so-called 'temporary' storage rule that would allow nuclear waste to be stranded on Prairie Island for generations does not reflect reality," Johnson said.

The tribe supports the establishment of a national nuclear waste storage facility. The Obama administration, however, effectively put an end to the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada by cutting federal funds for it.

Turtle Talk has posted some documents from the case, State of New York v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Get the Story:
Appeals court throws out NRC rule allowing radioactive waste to sit at nuke plants for decades (AP 6/8)
Court Forces a Rethinking of Nuclear Fuel Storage (The New York Times 6/9)
Appeals court tosses rule on storing nuclear waste (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 6/9)
Prairie Island Indian Community calls for federal action (The Rochester Post-Bulletin 6/9)

DC Circuit Decision:
New York v. NRC (June 8, 2012)