NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 8, 2013

Effort to stop relicensing of Seabrook power station denied

U.S. court rules against petition filed by anti-nuclear groups

BOSTON — The U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition filed against the Nuclear Regulatory Agency by three anti-nuclear groups, ruling the agency was within the law in denying them a hearing to challenge NextEra Energy Seabrook’s nuclear power plant’s application to extend its operating license 20 years, from 2030 to 2050.

In August , Maryland-based Beyond Nuclear, Exeter’s Seacoast Anti-Pollution League and the New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club brought suit in the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. They appealed the NRC’s reversal of an earlier ruling by the commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board that would have allowed the groups to challenge Seabrook Station’s re-licensing application based on the future potential of offshore, deep-water wind generation in the Gulf of Maine, which they consider an energy alternative to the nuclear energy Seabrook Station provides.

Although not among those in this court fight, Newburyport-based Seabrook Station watchdog group, C-10, was in favor of the petition and believed the petitioners should have been granted a hearing.

“The decision by a Boston federal court to deny an appeal by three environmental groups challenging the 20-year license extension for the Seabrook nuclear plant comes on the heels of a $200 million grant by the Department of Energy for offshore wind power development,” said C-10 executive director Sandra Gavutis. “With federal and private funding, Maine plans to build enough offshore wind capacity to equal four Seabrooks. Is the nuclear industry going to be the voice for the next generation when it comes to sustainable energy choices?”

The three petitioners claimed in their appeal that the NRC caused them “procedural injury,” by reversing the ASLB decision. They claimed that by its reversal the NRC misapplied National Environmental Policy Act case law related to the license extension application procedure. Further, the petitioners argued the NRC acted arbitrarily, capriciously, through an abuse of its discretion and otherwise not in accordance of related laws.

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