PPL wants suit over nuke plans dismissed

Company claims plaintiff challenging plans for Salem Twp. plant has no standing.

By Terrie Morgan-Besecker tmorgan@timesleader.com
Law & Order Reporter

SCRANTON - PPL has filed a motion seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit that challenges the electric company's plans to increase the generation capacity of its nuclear power plant in Salem Township.

An attorney for PPL says the plaintiff, Eric Epstein, lacks standing to bring the suit because he has not suffered any injury. PPL also claims Epstein is asking the court to take action it has no authority to take.

Epstein, the head of the Harrisburg-based nuclear power watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert, filed suit against PPL and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission on March 5.

The suit, filed in federal court in Scranton, seeks to prevent PPL from implementing changes that would increase the power output of its two reactors at the Susquehanna Steam Electric Plant by 13 percent. The modification, scheduled to be completed by 2010, would result in increased water draw from the Susquehanna River.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the River Basin Commission approved the plan in January, finding that the increased draw would not have a significant environmental impact on the river.

Epstein's suit challenges that determination. He claims various regulatory agencies passed off responsibility for investigating the impact, resulting in an incomplete investigation.

In its motion filed Thursday, PPL argues the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a plaintiff must show they suffered an actual injury in order to file a suit. Epstein "provides only vague and speculative allegations of injury to the environment," but no allegation of injury to himself, the motion says.

PPL also argues that the court does not have authority to issue an injunction that would halt the project because the approval was given by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is not a defendant in the suit.

"The plaintiff seeks to enjoin PPL from implementing activities authorized by a different federal agency ...," the motion states.

Epstein will have an opportunity to respond to the motion. A judge will then rule.

Source: The Times Leader