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DOE Fined for Failure |to Remove Nuclear Fuel

(CN) - The Department of Energy must pay a combined $87 million to two power companies for its failure to remove and dispose of spent nuclear fuel from their power plants, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled.

The court awarded Wisconsin Electric Power Co. about $50 million in damages, and $37 million to Dairyland Power Cooperative.

The government collected more than $215 million in fees from Wisconsin Electric for disposal service, slated to begin no later than Jan. 31, 1998, but never removed any radioactive material, the ruling states.

Both companies allegedly spent millions on storage, insurance and other costs associated with the government's breach of contract.

These mitigation decisions "were foreseeable, commercially reasonable and substantially caused by the DOE's failure to perform its contractual obligations," Senior Judge James Merow wrote in the Wisconsin Electric opinion.

Wisconsin Electric had demanded more than $90 million, though the government conceded liability of only $12.5 million.

Dairyland had sought more than $54 million in damages, including the costs of storing the spent nuclear fuel and removing a reactor pressure vessel.

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