Macfarlane says NRC won’t adjudicate ‘waste confidence’ issues

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.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at