An appeals court says public opinion must almost always be included when federal regulators consider granting safety exemptions to nuclear power plants.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated part of a district court ruling involving an exemption to fire safety rules.
The exemption allowed the Indian Point 3 plant in the New York City suburbs to use a fire barrier rated to last 24 minutes. A one-hour rating had been required previously.
Plaintiffs argued that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission violated public participation rules.
The appeals court said public input is required unless it would be inappropriate or impractical. It said the NRC had not shown that to be the case but could try again in the district court.
The NRC said it would review the decision.