A federal appeals court decision on nuclear waste storage has Oyster Creek protesters smiling and NRC officials reeling.

The court said Friday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not fully evaluate the risks associated with long-term waste storage.

Two days before the appellate ruling, NRC officials told a packed room at the Holiday Inn in Toms River it was safe to store radioactive waste at Oyster Creek Generating Station for up to 60 years after it closes.

The Oyster Creek site is scheduled to shut down in 2019.

"We have plants that have decommissioned and all you will find at the site is a dry cask storage facility containing the fuel that's left over from the plant's operation," says NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Officials are wondering if not at the inactive reactor sites, where else could the waste be stored?

"As of mid 2012, we still do not have a federal repository for spent nuclear fuel, nor do we have any sort of interim storage other than at the plants themselves," says Sheehan.

The Obama Administration has cut off funding for a proposed nuclear waste dump in Nevada, but has not identified an alternative site.

The appeals court said the NRC should complete a detailed environmental review of on-site storage or explain why one is not needed.

"We've done environmental assessments many times over the years, but at this point it's a matter of the NRC attorneys taking a closer look at the decision," says Sheehan.

The lawsuit was filed by four Northeastern states, led by New York.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.