Environmentalists, Nevada Prevail on Key Issue of Yucca Court Case

Court Orders EPA to Strengthen Radiation Requirements to Safeguard the Environment and Public Health

WASHINGTON (July 9, 2004) - Today, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of environmental groups and the state of Nevada, finding that the Environmental Protection Agency illegally issued inadequate environmental and public health standards for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear repository site.

In one among a bevy of lawsuits filed against the Bush administration in 2001, Nevada, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and several other groups detailed the illegality of EPA's actions and asked the court to require the agency to rewrite its environmental and public health standards for the site. In response, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found EPA's 10,000-year radiation protection standard unlawful -- and threw it out.

"On one of the most crucial issues in the Yucca case, the court has sent EPA back to the drawing board to write a radiation protection standard that safeguards public health," said Geoff Fettus, the NRDC attorney that argued the case for the environmental groups. "When dealing with a project of the magnitude of a nuclear waste repository, the law requires that EPA do it right rather than rush it through."

The environmental groups that joined NRDC and the state of Nevada in the EPA case are Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana, Citizen Alert, Nevada Desert Experience, Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and Public Citizen. This case was one of a number of consolidated cases that challenged aspects of the Yucca Mountain nuclear site proposal. This was the only Yucca-related case in which the environmental groups participated.

The court's decision is available here.