The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was on track to approve construction of a nuclear irradiator at Honolulu International Airport without a proper environmental review. But following a challenge from Earthjustice on behalf of Concerned Citizens of Honolulu, the NRC staff must now further evaluate possible harm to public health and the environment before the project gets a green light.
The risks associated with the project stem in part from the site's location: right next to active runways and a tsunami evacuation zone. The NRC staff was faulted for not considering alternate sites that aren't subject to the same threats of tsunami, storm surge, earthquakes and aircraft crashes.
The NRC staff also failed to investigate non-nuclear technologies such as the electron beam irradiator used for the past nine years on Hawai'i Island. "It's outrageous that the staff refused to look at a technology that has successfully accomplished the same purpose for years, without radiation," said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. "Because of our efforts, a lot more information will be disseminated to the public."