NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane has told the attorneys general of four Northeastern states that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission won’t use an “adjudicatory-style briefing process” to decide how nuclear plants should comply with the so-called “waste confidence” ruling by a federal appeals court.
Macfarlane made her reply in a July 23 letter that said NRC will instead stick with its plans to use a notice-and-comment in its environmental impact statement scoping process.
On May 22 a petition was filed jointly by the states of Vermont, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.
The petition objected to scoping decisions reflected in the NRC staff’s March 2013, “Waste Confidence Generic Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Process: Summary Report” and proposed that NRC, based on its inherent supervisory authority over the NRC staff, institute an adjudicatory-style briefing process before deciding the merits.
“The NRC has determined that the notice-and-comment process, rather than reliance on adjudicatory briefings, is the appropriate means to ensure there is ample opportunity for public participation,” Macfarlane said in the letter. “As in other rulemakings, the Commission does not plan to solicit briefs and issue merits decisions on the staff’s scoping report.”
She encouraged the states to participate in the upcoming comment period.
In 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that NRC cannot license or re-license any nuclear power plant until it fully examines the dangers and consequences of long-term, on-site storage of nuclear waste.
The Northeast states would prefer that plant-specific waste confidence issues be reviewed by NRC.