Outside Publication

Chapter 6: Implications of Cook v. Rockwell: Tenth Circuit Finds Price-Anderson Act Does Not Preempt Nuisance Claim, Key Developments in Environmental Law 2015


On June 23, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that defendants Dow Chemical Co. (Dow) and Rockwell International Corp. (Rockwell) had waived any argument that the Price-Anderson Act (PAA) expressly preempted the plaintiffs’ related state law nuisance claims, and furthermore, even if the defendants had not waived that argument, that the PAA is not a federal preemption statute that would bar the plaintiffs from asserting a state law nuisance claim in the event that they could not prove a “nuclear incident” under the PAA.

This decision constitutes a marked departure from all other federal circuits that have addressed the issue and, if adopted by other courts, would represent a significant expansion of potential liability for operators in the nuclear energy industry.

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