AN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FOR AIRPORT IRRADIATOR

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(POSTED 5/3/06)

Score one for Concerned Citizens of Honolulu. This is the group that last fall challenged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over its decision not to require preparation of an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement for a Cobalt-60-fueled irradiation facility planned to be built at the Honolulu International Airport. The group, represented by Earthjustice attorney David Henkin, petitioned the NRC for a hearing on the application for an NRC license submitted by Pa`ina Hawai`i last June.

On March 20, the NRC staff announced it had come to an agreement with Concerned Citizens under which the NRC will prepare an environmental assessment, leading either to a finding of no significant impact or development of a full-blown environmental impact statement for the irradiation facility. In connection with the environmental review, the NRC will hold at least one public meeting in Honolulu where the public will have a chance to offer comment.

“The NRC shall not make a decision on the applicant’s proposed irradiator until it has issued a final finding of no significant impact or record of decision following preparation of an environmental impact statement,” the NRC agreement stated.

Under terms of the settlement with Concerned Citizens, the group “reserves its right … to file additional contentions challenging the adequacy of any NEPA document that the NRC prepares” for the irradiator. (NEPA refers to the National Environmental Policy Act, which generally requires federal agencies to disclose the environmental impacts of projects they undertake or permit.)

Concerned Citizens reached its agreement with the NRC staff on March 20, but Pa`ina Hawai`i opposed the settlement. On April 26, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board formally heard Pa`ina’s objections, but was not swayed by them. The formal order was issued April 27.

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