NRC Approves Final Rule on Spent Fuel Storage and Ends Suspension of Final Licensing Actions for Nuclear Plants and Renewals

NRC Approves Final Rule on Spent Fuel Storage and Ends Suspension of Final Licensing Actions for Nuclear Plants and Renewals

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday approved a final rule on the environmental effects of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel and will lift its suspension of final licensing actions on nuclear power plant licenses and renewals once the rule becomes effective.

The Commission’s action signals the end of a two-year effort to satisfy a remand by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court in June 2012 struck down the NRC’s 2010 revision of its “waste confidence” rule, directing the agency to consider the possibility that a geologic repository for permanent disposal of spent fuel might never be built, and to do further analysis of spent fuel pool leaks and fires. The Commission responded in August 2012 by suspending final licensing decisions on new reactors, reactor license renewals and spent fuel storage facility renewals. It subsequently directed the staff to develop a new rule and a supporting Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) within 24 months.

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