Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Los Alamos Study Group v. Department of Energy

Aug 27: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, Case No. 11-2141. Appealed from the U.S. District Court from the District of New Mexico. On August 16, 2010, Plaintiff Los Alamos Study Group filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Defendants were the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the United States Department of Energy (DOE), NNSA's administrator, and the DOE secretary.
    The complaint alleged that the design proposed for construction of a Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (the Nuclear Facility) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (the Laboratory) had changed so much since the original environmental analysis in 2003 that a new analysis was required and that all work on the facility should be halted until the conclusion of such analysis.
    The district court dismissed the claims on two grounds: (1) that they were prudentially moot because Defendants began an environmental analysis after the complaint was filed and committed to refraining from all construction on the Nuclear Facility until the analysis was complete; and (2) that the case was not yet ripe because there had been no final agency action. The Appeals Court ruled, "We agree with the district court on the ripeness issue. We therefore need not address prudential mootness."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Haz/Nuclear, #CA10]
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Reino De España v. American Bureau Of Shipping

Aug 29: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, Case No. 10-3518. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case involves a November 2002, spill from the oil tanker Prestige which sank off the northwestern coast of Spain, releasing large quantities of oil into the ocean. Reino de España (Spain or Plaintiff) alleges that the oil, on washing up on the Spanish coastline, caused serious environmental and economic damage to Spain and its citizens. Spain, in reaction to the alleged effects of this marine casualty, brought suit against American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and its subsidiaries (collectively, Defendants). ABS is a classification society -- an organization that, as relevant to the present appeal, is contracted by ship owners regularly to survey their vessels for compliance with ABS's requirements on structural soundness.
    The district court ruled that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment because, in the circumstances presented, ABS and its subsidiaries, did not owe Reino de España a duty in tort in connection with ABS's inspection of the tanker Prestige. Without reaching that issue, the Appeals Court concluded that ". . .even if such a duty were owed, Plaintiff did not introduce evidence
sufficient to create a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Defendants recklessly breached that duty. . ." and affirmed the decision of the district court.
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Haz/OilSpill, #CA2]
32 Years of Environmental Reporting for serious Environmental Professionals