Mayaguezanos por la Salud y el Ambiente v. United States

198 F.3d 297 (1999)

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Mayaguezanos por la Salud y el Ambiente v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
198 F.3d 297 (1999)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Multiple countries engaged in atomic-energy-trade agreements. Pursuant to these agreements, the United States (defendant) provided uranium to Japan to fuel Japan’s nuclear-energy reactors; Japan shipped the reactors’ spent fuel to a French nuclear-power company for recycling; the French company (1) recovered a substantial portion of nuclear fuel and (2) generated nuclear waste that was deemed irrecoverable for purposes of further nuclear activity; and the nuclear fuel and waste were shipped from France to Japan through one of three return routes, including by way of the Panama Canal. Using the Panama Canal, a ship would pass by Puerto Rico through an area that was the United States’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) (the Mona Passage). In 1998, a British ship, the Pacific Swan, carried a cargo of nuclear waste through the Mona Passage on its way to Japan. Non-profit organization Mayaguezanos por la Salud y el Ambiente (Mayaguezanos) (plaintiff) sued the United States in Puerto Rico district court seeking to stop the shipment until the United States filed an environmental-impact statement in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The district court denied relief and dismissed the action. Mayaguezanos appealed, arguing that the United States’ failure to regulate the passage of nuclear waste through its EEZ constituted a major federal action for purposes of triggering NEPA compliance.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lynch, J.)

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