Entergy Sues Feds Over Failure to Address Nuclear Fuel Issue

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Entergy Louisiana LLC sued the U.S. Department of Energy, claiming the federal government failed to dispose of  spent nuclear fuel and high level nuclear waste from the utility’s River Bend Nuclear Generating Station.

Entergy’s predecessor entered into a $179 million contract for nuclear waste disposal with the Energy Department in 1984, with the expectation that a storage facility for the company’s spent nuclear fuel would be completed by Jan. 31, 1998.

The contract was created in accordance with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, which was enacted so that operators of nuclear power stations like River Bend, which is located in St. Francisville, Louisiana, north of Baton Rouge, could plan for the removal and safe storage of their nuclear waste.

Entergy claims the Energy Department has been making empty promises to build the storage facility ever since the contract was drafted.

The company also alleges that in 1987, the department announced the repository would not be available until 2003, five years after the repository was supposed to be finished.

However, the department did indicate they would be able to accept spent nuclear fuel in 1998 at a Monitored Retrievable Storage facility. Monitored Retrieval Storage facilities are intended to store nuclear spent fuel until repositories are ready to accept the spent fuel.

But according to the lawsuit, in 1995 the department again claimed it fell behind in its plans for building storage space for spent nuclear fuel.

Entergy says the department at this time announced no repository or retrieval storage would be available for use until 2010 at the earliest.

It also claims federal regulator also claimed at this point that they were not obligated to provide a storage facility in the absence of a repository.

The two sides have been sparing in court ever since.

Without a repository or storage facility available from the government, any spent nuclear fuel from the generating station has been stored on-site at the expense of the company, the lawsuit says.

Entergy says additional costs they have incurred due to the lack of storage include: security costs for security around the spent fuel area, maintenance costs, loading campaign costs and cost to train employees on protocols for the storage area.

The utility seeks unspecified damages on claims of breach of contract, unlawful taking of property, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

It is represented by Samuel Morris IV, of Entergy Services Inc. in Jackson, Mississippi; L. Jager Smith of Jager Smith LLC, also in Jackson; and Eric Langley, of Langley & Bromberg LLC, in Birmingham, Alabama.

A  spokesperson for the Department of Energy said due to the transition from the Obama administration to the new Trump administration, no one was available to comment on the litigation.