5th Circuit also vacates Holtec CISF license!

Halt Holtec AFES tee shirt

[Tee shirt design by Noel Marquez, co-founder of Alliance for Environmental Strategies in southeastern New Mexico.]

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, on March 27, 2024 issued a ruling vacating the license, approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in May 2023, for the construction and operation of Holtec International’s consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in New Mexico, for up to 173,600 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel and other highly radioactive waste.

See the March 27th ruling here.

This ruling follows closely upon a ruling by the 5th Circuit en banc, by a vote of 9 to 7, to uphold its 3-judge panel’s August 2023 ruling that the NRC license for Interim Storage Partners, LLC’s (ISP) CISF in Texas was illegal. Dump proponents, NRC and ISP, have 90 days from the March 20, 2024 date of that ruling to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, if they so choose.

While Fasken Land and Minerals, Ltd., Permian Basin Land and Royalty Owners (PBLRO), and the State of Texas won the August 2023 legal victory against ISP’s dump in Texas, Fasken and PBLRO likewise brought a challenge before the 5th Circuit against Holtec’s dump in New Mexico. This challenge has now, likewise, prevailed.

The two dumps are but 40 miles apart, on either side of the New Mexico/Texas state line.

Today’s ruling also follows closely upon oral arguments before a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding Holtec’s CISF in NM. Opponents Fasken/PBLRO, Beyond Nuclear, Don’t Waste Michigan et al. (a six-group, national grassroots environmental coalition), and Sierra Club faced off against Holtec, NRC, DOJ, and the Nuclear Energy Institute before the panel on March 5, 2024. A ruling by the panel will be forthcoming, but how soon is not yet known.

In January 2023, another 3-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled against the same coalition of parties opposed to ISP’s CISF. The oral arguments in that case had taken place in November 2022. This may give some idea of how soon the 3-judge panel which heard oral arguments on Holtec’s CISF on March 5th will rule — or it may not!

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