High Court Rules in Action Between States Regarding Radioactive Waste Disposal - U.S. Supreme Court
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High Court Rules in Action Between States Regarding Radioactive Waste Disposal

Alabama v. N. Carolina, No. 132, concerned an action by Florida and Tennessee against North Carolina seeking monetary sanctions under the terms of the Southeast Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Compact (Compact), which was entered into by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.  The Supreme Court adopted the Special Master's recommendations, on the grounds that 1) the terms of the Compact did not authorize the Commission administering the Compact to impose monetary sanctions against North Carolina; 2) North Carolina did not breach its contractual obligation to take "appropriate steps" toward the issuance of a waste disposal license; and 3) under Arizona v. California, 460 U.S. 605 (1983), the Commission's claims were not barred by sovereign immunity so long as the Commission asserted the same claims and sought the same relief as the plaintiff States.

As the Court wrote:  "In 1986, Congress granted its consent under the Compact Clause, U.S. Const., Art. I, §10, cl. 3, to seven interstate compacts providing for the creation of regional facilities to dispose of low-level radioactive waste. Omnibus Low-Level Radioactive Waste Interstate Compact Consent Act, 99 Stat. 1859. One of those compacts was the Southeast Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Compact (Compact), entered into by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Id., at 1871-1880. That Compact established an "instrument and framework for a cooperative effort" to develop new facilities for the long-term disposal of low-level radioactive waste generated within the region. Art. 1, id., at 1872. The Compact was to be administered by a Southeast Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Commission (Commission), composed of two voting members from each party State. Art. 4(A), id., at 1874."

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