Extraordinary Facts, Extraordinary Remedies: The Nuclear Waste Disposal Saga

Vol. 53 No. 3

By

Ellen C. Ginsberg is vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). Before joining NEI she practiced with the Washington, D.C., law firm Swidler & Berlin and clerked for the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel. Kaitlin Sweeney is a contract attorney for the Nuclear Energy Institute and a recent graduate of Roger Williams University School of Law.

The problem of what to do with nuclear waste in this country has been a vexing conundrum for more than 30 years. Nuclear waste has inspired heated rhetoric by those on all sides of the issue and tends to be a lightning rod for the nuclear industry. One result of extreme rhetoric and political opposition is stagnation in solving the challenge of nuclear waste disposal. When government agencies fail to meet their statutory mandates and contractual obligations relating to nuclear waste, injured parties may petition the courts to force compliance. In August1 and November2 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued two key decisions compelling the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out their respective obligations under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA).

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