Court Vacates $42.8M Damage Award to PG&E

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Federal Circuit vacated Pacific Gas & Electric’s $42.8 million damage award in a case concerning the U.S. Department of Energy’s alleged failure to store nuclear waste.

     The U.S. Court of Federal Claims had previously found that the government breached its contract to store nuclear waste from Pacific Gas & Energy (PG&E). The government was supposed to begin accepting the waste on Jan. 31, 1998.
     The utility appealed, arguing that the court miscalculated the damages for failure to accept the waste through the end of 2004. It was seeking twice what the claims court awarded it.
     The contract did not specify the rate to which the department was supposed to accept the waste, but Judge Hewitt ruled that the claims court “improperly relied on a unilateral DOE estimate … the Court’s acceptance of the 1991 rate cannot be correct.”
     The government relied on reports that “were tainted by the impending breach and even litigation strategies.”
     Therefore, Hewitt remanded the case to the claims court, instructing it to calculate the rate according to a 1987 report that contemplated “full and timely performance” of the DOE’s obligations.

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