U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denies Beyond Nuclear/Ohio Nuclear-Free Network en banc appeal against HALEU
On January 17, 2023, the 11 judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit published an ORDER denying Beyond Nuclear and Ohio Nuclear-Free Network’s appeal en banc (to the full membership of the Circuit Court) in their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) lawsuit against rushed generation of HALEU at the U.S. Department of Energy’s uranium enrichment complex in Portsmouth, Ohio. A major concern is the nuclear weapons proliferation risks of HALEU generation.
Wally Taylor of Cedar Rapids, IA, and Terry Lodge of Toledo, OH, serve as the environmental coalition’s legal counsel.
See the ORDER here:
1 17 23 HALEU en banc appeal denied
HALEU is short for High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium. HALEU is enriched to 20%, or more, in Uranium-235. Only a small additional amount of Separative Work Units are required to go from 20% HALEU, to weapons-grade highly enriched uranium.
HALEU is shaping up to be the fuel of choice for so-called Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, both domestically in the U.S., and overseas.
Beyond Nuclear and Ohio Nuclear-Free Network launched a federal appeal against HALEU generation in late May 2022. We had our day in court — for oral arguments — on October 13, 2022, before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit. However, a month later, that panel ruled against our appeal. This is what prompted our appeal en banc, which now also has been ruled against.
This means that American Centrifuge Operating, LLC, under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy, has a green light from not only the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but also the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to generate HALEU, despite our NEPA and weapons proliferation risk concerns.
In fact, as revealed by documents in the NRC ADAMS (Agency-wide Documents Access and Management System), it appears American Centrifuge Operating, LLC is poised to begin the HALEU generation process, by loading centrifuges with uranium hexafluoride, as early as May 22, 2023:
Placed into ADAMS 1/4/2023 and announcing UF6 loading in May 22, 2023.
|Document Title:||American Centrifuge Operating, LLC, Intent to Introduce UF6 in the High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Cascade|
Additional documents in NRC ADAMS show that the agency is blessing the HALEU plans every step of the way, despite the requirements of NEPA, and the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation:
Placed into ADAMS 1/3/2023
|Document Title:||License Amendment Request for American Centrifuge Operating, LLC’s License Application and Supporting Documents for the American Centrifuge Plant|
License-Application for (Amend/Renewal/New) for DKT 30, 40, 70
License-Special Nuclear Material Amendment DKT 70
|Document Title:||American Centrifuge Plant – Summary of Non-Administrative Changes to the Criticality Computer Code Validation Report|
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