Harmon Curran team headshot - Diane

Diane Curran

Of Counsel

As one of the country’s leading environmental and nuclear safety advocates, Diane Curran has stopped unsafe nuclear projects and won significant safety and environmental protection measures before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and federal courts, on behalf of state and local governments, citizen groups, and individuals. Diane’s areas of legal expertise include the Atomic Energy Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.

Diane’s court victories include two ground-breaking cases establishing new environmental requirements for nuclear reactor licensing. In New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012), the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the NRC to prepare, for the first time, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding the long-term environmental effects of storing spent nuclear reactor fuel. In a follow-up petition to the NRC, Diane forced the agency to suspend all reactor licensing for two years while it prepared the EIS. And in 2006, in San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace v. NRC, 449 F.3d 1016 (9th Cir. 2006), Diane won a precedent-setting court order requiring the NRC to evaluate the environmental and safety impacts of an attack on a proposed spent fuel storage facility at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. As a result, the NRC now routinely examines the environmental impacts of attacks in its licensing decisions.

Diane has also represented many citizen groups in cases before the NRC. Highlights include — In 2017, Diane represented Riverkeeper in the historic settlement of the Indian Point license renewal case that provides for early shutdown of the twin nuclear reactors. Following the 2011 Fukushima accident, she represented a broad group of environmental groups in pressing NRC to consider the lessons learned from the accident in its licensing decisions. In 1997, working with Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, Diane won one of the first environmental justice victories in the U.S., resulting in cancellation of a uranium enrichment project in the heart of an African-American community in rural Louisiana. In 1995, Diane’s litigation against re-licensing of a grossly contaminated uranium processing plant in Oklahoma was a key factor forcing the shutdown of the facility. And in 1991, the aging Yankee Rowe reactor closed after a petition by Diane, on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, showed the reactor vessel failed to meet NRC safety standards.

Diane’s work has been honored by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (1997 finalist for Trial Lawyer of the Year), Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (2013 Certificate of Honor), and Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (2013 Mothers’ Day for Peace award).

Diane has represented state and local governments including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the State of Utah; Eureka County, Nevada; and Orange County, North Carolina. She has also represented many civic and environmental organizations including Beyond Nuclear, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, Friends of the Earth, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Native Americans for a Clean Environment, Nuclear Watch South, Riverkeeper, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, the Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Published works include The Re-Licensing of Nuclear Power Plants, in O’Very et al., Controlling the Atom in the 21st Century (NRDC/Westview Press: 1994); Silent Sirens: Report on 1992 Accident at Sequoyah Fuels Uranium Processing Facility (Native Americans for a Clean Envionment: 1993); and The Public As Enemy: NRC Assaults on Public Participation in the Regulation of Operating Nuclear Power Plants (Union of Concerned Scientists: 1992).

Court Decisions and Briefs

  • Court decision vacating Waste Confidence rule, State of New York v. NRC, 681 F.3d 471 (D.C. Cir. 2012) and Opening brief for Petitioners.
  • Court decision ordering NRC to consider environmental impacts of attacks on spent fuel storage facility, San Luis Obispo Mother for Peace v. NRC, 449 F.3d 10176 (9th Cir. 2006) and Opening brief for Petitioners.

Practice Focus

“Your commitment, creativity and tremendous knowledge and experience has been invaluable to our work for more than a decade. We are so very appreciative of the many opportunities we’ve had to work together.”

–Sara Barczak, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy