2006-06-02 A MFP Win in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Ninth Circuit Court rules in favor of Mothers for Peace regarding terrorism and the dry cask storage project at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. A link to the Court ruling is included.



For Immediate Release

Contact: Jane Swanson, spokesperson

June 2, 2006

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace

(805) 595-2605

cell (805) 440-1359

Diane Curran, attorney

202/328-3500 (office)


Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was irrational to categorically refuse to consider the possibility of a terrorist attack in preparing the Environmental Impart Statement for the dry cask storage project that PG&E is planning on installing at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant. This ruling is a total victory for the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, who challenged the NRC’s 2003 decision refusing to hold a hearing on the question of whether a terrorist attack on the new facility is “reasonably foreseeable” and therefore requires preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  As Curran told the Court in Oct 17, 2005 oral arguments, “the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have removed any shred of credibility from the NRC’s stance that terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities are ‘speculative’ events that cannot be predicted.”

The San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, a local group that has actively opposed the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant since 1973, is extremely pleased that logic prevailed in this important court ruling, which sends the NRC back to the drawing board to complete the Environmental Impact Statement. The group hopes that effective mitigations will be put in place to provide defenses against possible air attack.

"The court ruled in favor of the safety of the people of California's central coast, rather than corporate convenience. This ruling is a vindication of the perseverance of our all-volunteer citizen group and our one wonderful attorney, " according to spokesperson Jane Swanson

MFP attorney Diane Curran pointed out in arguments before the court that 140 spent fuel storage casks are to be located on an exposed hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean where they are vulnerable to airborne attack.  “The effects of a terrorist attack on the steel casks could be devastating,” she warned.  “Our expert study found that if only two casks were breached, an area more than half the size of the State of Connecticut could be rendered uninhabitable.”

Among the measures MFP has asked the NRC to consider are fortifying the casks, or putting them in bunkers, or scattering the cask storage pads over the site so that they would not present one big target.  “These are all feasible alternatives for minimizing the impacts of a terrorist attack on the Diablo Canyon facility.  The NRC had no lawful basis to ignore them,”  according to Attorney Curran.

The Court ruling as a PDF link follows,

PDF link to Ninth Circuit Ruling

or it can be found at