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Spent Nuclear Fuel Removal: The DOE’s Obligation
Under a contract that the DOE signed with all nuclear plant owners, as well as the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the DOE was to have a disposal facility open and receiving spent fuel by January 31, 1998. Because the DOE missed the 1998 deadline and has yet to remove any spent nuclear fuel, The Yankee Companies must plan to store spent fuel on site for perhaps many years.

In return for the DOE removing the spent nuclear fuel, electric ratepayers who benefit from nuclear power, pay for the disposal of the spent fuel. Nationally, electric ratepayers have met their side of the bargain, having paid more than $29 billion into the federal Nuclear Waste Fund. They have yet to receive anything in return.

The Lawsuit Regarding the DOE’s Failure to Remove Spent Fuel
Most commercial nuclear power utilities in the United States have filed lawsuits against the DOE, seeking monetary damages resulting from the DOE’s breach of its contract to begin removing spent nuclear fuel in 1998.

The Yankee Companies filed litigation in federal court in 1998, charging that the federal government breached contracts it entered into with each company in 1983 under the NWPA. Two federal courts, including the Court of Federal Claims, found that the government did breach its contract with the three companies and other utilities. In 2004 a trial was conducted in the Court of Claims to determine the amount of damages owed to each company. The three Yankee companies' individual damage claims are specific to each plant and include costs through 2002 for Maine Yankee and 2001 for Connecticut Yankee and Yankee Rowe. Among other items, the damage claims reflect enhanced security measures required since 9/11 to safely store and protect used nuclear fuel until it is removed. On September 30, 2006, the Court of Federal Claims awarded The Yankee Companies $143 million of the $177 million damage claim.

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