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NRC Suspends Final Licenses to Reassess Risks of Storing Waste

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission suspended final decisions on licenses for power plants until it completes a reassessment of risks related to storing spent atomic fuel ordered by a federal court in June.

The action by the five-member NRC today in Washington doesn’t stop the agency’s review of license applications and only final decisions, most of which aren’t expected for months, will be held up, Scott Burnell, an NRC spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point power plant north of New York City is “next in line’” for renewal of its U.S. license, while Duke Energy Corp.’s application is close to getting a license for construction and operation of reactors in Levy County, Florida, Burnell said.

“They weren’t expected to reach final decisions until well into 2013,” Burnell said in the e-mail.

The NRC’s rules on permanent storage of nuclear waste failed to fully evaluate risks and new standards must be drafted, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled on June 8 in throwing out the agency’s regulations.

The NRC action freezes nine construction and operating licenses, eight renewals, an operating license and an early site permit, according to a statement from 24 groups led by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League in Knoxville, Tennessee, that asked the NRC to halt the process.

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