Legal challenge to licensing of U.S. nuclear plants


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A group of 25 anti-nuclear organizations will file legal challenges today that aim to slam the brakes on licensing actions at the nation’s commercial nuclear plants, based on preliminary reviews of the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant this year.

The legal challenges contend that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can’t legally issue or renew reactor licenses until it has strengthened rules to protect the public from an accident or conducted detailed reviews of the environmental impacts of not doing so.


The groups include Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, National Parks Conservation Assn. and two Sierra Club chapters, including others.

The staff of the NRC conducted a short-term assessment of the Fukushima meltdown and issued a dozen recommendations to strengthen the safety of U.S. nuclear plants. In a 96-page report issued last month, the NRC staff called for strengthening regulatory programs, improving emergency preparedness and upgrading seismic safety. The agency is now conducting a longer-term assessment of the Fukushima accident.

The nuclear groups said their legal challenges would assert that the NRC review had produced new information that raised health and safety concerns that should slow down the licensing process. The affected plants are spread across the U.S. and include the Diablo Canyon plant in California.


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-- Ralph Vartabedian reporting from Los Angeles