Reytblatt v. United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
105 F.3d 715 (1997)
The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) (defendant) prescribed the procedure by which each nuclear power plant regularly conducted mandatory tests of the plant’s ability to contain radioactive leaks. The NRC revised the prescribed procedure in March 1995 and simultaneously relaxed each plant’s duty to report test results. In addition to this so-called March Rule, the NRC proposed a second rule offering nuclear power plants the opportunity to use performance-based testing measures instead of the prescribed procedure. This proposed rule broke no new ground with respect to reporting test results but simply proposed extending the March Rule’s reporting requirements to performance-based test results. In May 1995, during the proposed rule’s public-comment period, Dr. Zinovy Reytblatt (plaintiff) submitted a letter emotionally accusing the NRC of wanting to conceal test reports from the public and proposing a fuller reporting system. Otherwise, the letter had nothing substantive to say about performance-based testing. In early July 1995, the NRC published its response to the comments it had received on the proposed rule. In discussing Reytblatt’s letter, the NRC’s response disclaimed any intention to conceal essential information and summarized Reytblatt’s proposal for a fuller reporting system. In late July 1995, two months after the public-comment period closed, Reytblatt sent the NRC a second letter, which attempted to rebut the NRC’s early-July publication. The NRC published its final rule on performance-based testing in September 1995. The preamble to this so-called September Rule made no reference to Reytblatt’s second letter. Reytblatt petitioned the circuit court of appeals to invalidate the September Rule on the grounds that the NRC had arbitrarily and capriciously failed to respond adequately to Reytblatt’s two letters.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Buckley, J.)
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