(a) It is the intent of the General Assembly to maintain a uniform system for the management of low-level radioactive waste and to place limitations upon the exercise by all units of local government in North Carolina of the power to regulate the management of low-level radioactive waste by means of special, local, or private acts or resolutions, ordinances, property restrictions, zoning regulations, or otherwise. Notwithstanding any authority granted to counties, municipalities, or other local authorities to adopt local ordinances, including but not limited to those imposing taxes, fees, or charges or regulating health, environment, or land use, any local ordinance that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the establishment or operation of a low-level radioactive waste facility that the Secretary has preempted pursuant to subsections (b) through (f) of this section, shall be invalid to the extent necessary to effectuate the purposes of this Chapter. To this end, all provisions of special, local, or private acts or resolutions are repealed that:
(1) Prohibit the transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal of low-level radioactive waste within any county, city, or other political subdivision.
(2) Prohibit the siting of a low-level radioactive waste facility within any county, city, or other political subdivision.
(3) Place any restriction or condition not placed by this Chapter upon the transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal of low-level radioactive waste, or upon the siting of a low-level radioactive waste facility within any county, city, or other political subdivision.
(4) In any manner are in conflict or inconsistent with the provisions of this Chapter.
(a1) No special, local, or private acts or resolutions enacted or taking effect hereafter may be construed to modify, amend, or repeal any portion of this Chapter unless it expressly provides for such by specific references to the appropriate section of this Chapter. Further to this end, all provisions of local ordinances, including those regulating land use, adopted by counties, municipalities, or other local authorities that prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the establishment or operation of a low-level radioactive waste facility are invalidated to the extent preempted by the Secretary pursuant to this Section.
(b) When a low-level radioactive waste facility would be prevented from construction or operation by a county, municipal, or other local ordinance, the operator of the proposed facility may petition the Secretary to review the matter. After receipt of a petition, the Secretary shall hold a hearing in accordance with the procedures in subsection (c) of this section and shall determine whether or to what extent to preempt the local ordinance to allow for the establishment and operation of the facility.
(c) When a petition described in subsection (b) of this section has been filed with the Secretary, the Secretary shall hold a public hearing to consider the petition. The public hearing shall be held in the affected locality within 60 days after receipt of the petition by the Secretary. The Secretary shall give notice of the public hearing by:
(1) Publication in a newspaper or newspapers having general circulation in the county or counties where the facility is or is to be located or operated, once a week for three consecutive weeks, the first notice appearing at least 30 days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing; and
(2) First class mail to persons who have requested notice. The Secretary shall maintain a mailing list of persons who request notice in advance of the hearing pursuant to this section. Notice by mail shall be complete upon deposit of a copy of the notice in a post-paid wrapper addressed to the person to be notified at the address that appears on the mailing list maintained by the Secretary, in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States Postal Service.
(c1) Any interested person may appear before the Secretary at the hearing to offer testimony. In addition to testimony before the Secretary, any interested person may submit written evidence to the Secretary for the Secretary's consideration. At least 20 days shall be allowed for receipt of written comment following the hearing.
(d) The Secretary shall determine whether or to what extent to preempt local ordinances so as to allow the establishment and operation of the facility no later than 60 days after conclusion of the hearing. The Secretary shall preempt a local ordinance only if the Secretary makes all five of the following findings:
(1) That there is a local ordinance that would prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the establishment or operation of a low-level radioactive waste facility.
(2) That the proposed facility is needed in order to establish adequate capability to meet the current or projected low-level radioactive waste management needs of this State or to comply with the terms of any interstate agreement for the management of low-level radioactive waste to which the State is a party and therefore serves the interests of the citizens of the State as a whole.
(3) That all legally required State and federal permits or approvals have been issued by the appropriate State and federal agencies or that all State and federal permit requirements have been satisfied and that the permits or approvals have been denied or withheld only because of the local ordinance.
(4) That local citizens and elected officials have had adequate opportunity to participate in the siting process.
(5) That the construction and operation of the facility will not pose an unreasonable health or environmental risk to the surrounding locality and that the facility operator has taken or consented to take reasonable measures to avoid or manage foreseeable risks and to comply to the maximum feasible extent with applicable local ordinances.
(d1) If the Secretary does not make all five findings set out above, the Secretary shall not preempt the challenged local ordinance. The Secretary's decision shall be in writing and shall identify the evidence submitted to the Secretary plus any additional evidence used in arriving at the decision.
(e) The decision of the Secretary shall be final unless a party to the action files a written appeal under Article 4 of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes, as modified by G.S. 7A-29 and this section, within 30 days of the date of the decision. The record on appeal shall consist of all materials and information submitted to or considered by the Secretary, the Secretary's written decision, a complete transcript of the hearing, all written material presented to the Secretary regarding the location of the facility, the specific findings required by subsection (d) of this section, and any minority positions on the specific findings required by subsection (d) of this section. The scope of judicial review shall be that the court may affirm the decision of the Secretary, or may remand the matter for further proceedings, or may reverse or modify the decision if the substantial rights of the parties may have been prejudiced because the agency findings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are:
(1) In violation of constitutional provisions;
(2) In excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency;
(3) Made upon unlawful procedure;
(4) Affected by other error of law;
(5) Unsupported by substantial evidence admissible under G.S. 150B-29(a) or G.S. 150B-30 in view of the entire record as submitted; or
(6) Arbitrary or capricious.
(e1) If the court reverses or modifies the decision of the agency, the judge shall set out in writing, which writing shall become part of the record, the reasons for the reversal or modification.
(f) In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by this procedure, the provisions of Rule 6(a) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, G.S. 1A-1, shall apply. (1981, c. 704, s. 9; 1987, c. 633, s. 6; c. 850, s. 4; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 993, s. 24; c. 1082, s. 10; c. 1100, s. 40.5; 1989, c. 168, s. 14; 1993, c. 501, s. 3; 2001-474, s. 16.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014