February 28, 2011

MADISON, WI - Eight public interest groups have asked Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to intervene in a lawsuit by New York, Vermont, and Connecticut against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for issuing rules that would allow the storage of radioactive waste at a nuclear power plant for at least 60 years after a reactor goes out of service.

The Northeast States sued the NRC because, in promulgating the rules, the NRC failed to conduct studies, as required by federal law, regarding the safety and environmental impacts that could result from storing highly radioactive nuclear waste at reactors in the Northeast and elsewhere.

Specifically, the Northeast States sued the NRC for failing to study the environmental impacts of storing highly radioactive waste at each nuclear power plant, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The Northeast States also mentioned that many other federal laws, policies, and regulations were violated by the NRC in promulgating the rules.

"The states of New York, Vermont, and Connecticut are trying to protect the interests of their citizens and environment from the risks and costs of stockpiling highly radioactive waste at the many reactors located there," said Charlie Higley, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board. "We urge Attorney General Van Hollen to intervene in this suit, to make sure the citizens of Wisconsin are protected from the dangers of radioactive waste located in Wisconsin."

"In issuing these rules, the NRC is threatening the health and safety of people living near nuclear waste dumps in Wisconsin," said Katie Nekola, general counsel for Clean Wisconsin. "It's ridiculous for the NRC to automatically assume a site can safely store radioactive waste for at least a century without actually studying the site."

Wisconsin has several nuclear power plants, including the operating Kewaunee and Point Beach power plants, both of which are located on the shore of Lake Michigan near Two Creeks, and the shut-down La Crosse reactor on the shore of the Mississippi River near Genoa. Nuclear waste is stored at all three locations in ?spent fuel pools.? Point Beach and Kewaunee also have "dry casks," which hold the radioactive waste in concrete silos that stand above-ground on a site near the plant. With work halted on the nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the U.S. will not have a safe way to dispose of the waste for decades, if ever, making each reactor site in Wisconsin a defacto permanent disposal site.

"The NRC should study each location in Wisconsin before allowing radioactive waste to be dumped there for decades, perhaps centuries," said Pam Kleiss, executive director of PSR Wisconsin. "Radioactive waste remains deadly-dangerous to humans and the environment for hundreds of thousands of years; each of these communities deserves assurance that it is safe to continue to store waste there for a century if not forever."

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Citizens Utility Board - Clean Wisconsin - Coulee Region Progressives Institute for Energy and Environmental Research - Midwest Environmental Advocates Physicians for Social Responsibility-Wisconsin - Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice Wisconsin Resources Protection Council