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Agency Asked to Consider Fukushima Lessons

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received 15 petitions from clean energy groups, conservationists and others asking it to delay approving new or renewed licenses for nuclear power plants until it can fully consider issues raised by the Fukushima Task Force Report.

A task force of agency experts reviewed the Fukishima Daiichi accident that occurred in Japan earlier this year to make recommendations applicable to U.S. reactors. The report was submitted to the commissioners on July 12.

The petitioners also are asking the agency to rescind regulations that let plant operators draw generic conclusions about the potential environmental impacts of a catastrophic reactor failure or breach of the spent fuel holding ponds at their facility.

The generic regulations violate the National Environmental Protection Act, the petitioners say, because they do not require the agency to consider the specific environmental impacts of each site.

Quoting the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Robertson v. Methow Valley Citizens Council, the petitions said that the act "requires that agencies consider the environmental impacts of their actions before they are taken, in order to ensure that 'important effects will not be overlooked or underestimated only to be discovered after resources have been committed or the die otherwise cast.'"

The agency is taking no action on the petitions at this time and said that it will consider the concerns they raise through the process it has established for addressing the recommendations of the Fukushima Task Force report.

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