Ohio Nuclear-Free Network & Beyond Nuclear v. HALEU
At 10am Eastern Time on October 13, 2022, the Ohio Nuclear-Free Network and Beyond Nuclear had their day in court against HALEU — High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium.
Listen to the audio recording of the oral arguments. Our case begins at the 31 minute, 10 second mark of the audio recording, and continues for the better part of an hour.
One of the groups’ two pro bono legal c0unsel, Terry Lodge of Toledo, Ohio, will present oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. (Our second legal counsel is Wally Taylor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.)
The federal appeal, heard by a three-judge panel, is against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) grounds.
Our groups allege that NRC, in undertaking a low-level Environmental Assessment (EA), and reaching as its conclusion a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI), has neglected to take a NEPA-required “hard look” at the nuclear weapons proliferation and terrorist attack risks of the scheme — to enrich fissile Uranium-235 (U-235) up to 25% concentration levels, as a new fuel for so-called Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, as well as other so-called “advanced” reactor designs. 25% enriched U-235 constitutes highly enriched uranium, not low enriched uranium, and represents a short step from weapons-usable material.
The environmental coalition also pointed out that this HALEU scheme, if and when commercialized, would inevitably cause significant impacts — such as to Environmental Justice communities — all along the uranium fuel chain, including at the mining and milling stages, as on Indigenous Peoples’ lands.
Our groups also objected to woefully inadequate public comments opportunities. Public comment and participation is at the very heart of federal government agency NEPA-requirement practices.
The environmental coalition is urging the court to require NRC to undertake a full-fledged Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or even a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).
The private company Centrus, closely related to the NRC-licensed, but aborted, American Centrifuge Plant, would carry out HALEU production at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Portsmouth site in Piketon, Ohio.
Centrus is also closely related to USEC and U.S. Enrichment Corporation, as well as ACO (American Centrifuge Operating, LLC).
This Centrus HALEU experiment would be carried out under contract with the U.S. DOE, using U.S. taxpayer dollars.
The Inflation Production Act, recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden, includes $700 million in federal taxpayer subsidies for HALEU production.
See Beyond Nuclear and Ohio Nuclear-Free Network’s July 7, 2022 FINAL OPENING BRIEF, here:7 2022 BN ONFN BRIEF FINAL OPENING-2
See NRC’s arguments against our federal appeal, here:4 27 22 HALEU NRC brief
See American Centrifuge Operating LLC’s brief, arguing against our federal appeal, here:5 4 22 HALEU Centrus amicus brief
See Beyond Nuclear and Ohio Nuclear-Free Network’s FINAL REPLY BRIEF, linked here.
See the related public comment letter March 30, 2021 letter to NRC, filed by attorney Terry Lodge on behalf of Ohio Nuclear-Free Network, Beyond Nuclear, and 103 additional organizations, here:Lodge Letter 3-30-2021 to NRC ML21123A305
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