DOE Sued for $40M Over Nuclear Waste Storage

     (CN) — Blaming the government for not settling on a nuclear-waste storage scheme, a nuclear energy company has filed a federal complaint to recover $40 million.
     The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 required the U.S. Department of Energy to accept and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste by Jan. 31, 1998, in return for fees paid by owners of such waste.
     It also effectively made it mandatory for nuclear utilities to enter into contracts for such disposal.
     When the Department of Energy failed to meet the 1998 deadline, however, utilities began to incur substantial costs for storage and management of the waste accumulating at reactor sites.
     By 2006, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims had found that the Department of Energy partially breached its contractual obligations to Yankee Atomic Electric Co., Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Co., and Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co., all of which are now decommissioned, to the tune of $235 million.
     Boston Edison Company, now known as NSTAR Electric Company, operated the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, until 1999 when it sold the plant to Entergy Nuclear General Company.
     It sued the U.S. in the Court of Federal Claims Wednesday over its continued obligation to pay for highly reactive waste storage.
     Boston Edison says it paid Entergy $40.3 million to cover the cost to store spent nuclear fuel through 2012, the expected decommissioning date for the plant.
     That fuel would have been disposed of by the government had it kept its pledge.
     But now, Entergy has stated that operations at Pilgrim will continue through 2019, and there is still no government plan for a permanent repository for high level nuclear waste.
     Most nuclear power plants continue to keep their reactor waste on-site in steel and concrete casks.
     Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, was designated as a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel, but President Obama’s administration ended funding for the site in 2011 for political reasons.
     The Department of Energy has expressed the urgency need to find a permanent repository, but the Congress has taken no action since abandoning the Yucca Mountain project.
     Boston Energy seeks damages for breach of contract, and breach of the covenant of good faith.
     It is represented by Richard Conway with Blank Rome LLP.
     The Department of Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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