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08-08-2008, 08:59 PM
Nuclear Utilities Win Appeal Over Radioactive-Waste Facility

In the latest development of a longstanding contract dispute, a federal appeals court reversed and remanded a trio of cases concerning damages owed to nuclear utilities as a result of the government's failure to build a nuclear-waste facility.

After being awarded the damages, the firms appealed saying the Federal Claims court didn't use the right measurement in calculating the awards. In the case of the Sacramento utility, the appeals court also noted an error in allowing the government to make deductions from the amount owed to the utility, which owns the Rancho Sero nuclear power plant.

PG&E is building a storage facility at one of its California nuclear plants in part to compensate for the federal delay.

Yankee Atomic Electric Co., Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co. and Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Co. also constructed a storage facility to store waste and modified other storage facilities.

The three companies, which were created by consortiums of utility firms to operate nuclear power plants in New England, have ceased producing nuclear power

All the utilities paid fees to the Department of Energy's Nuclear Waste Fund beginning in 1983 under a contract that required the Energy Department to begin accepting fuel for storage by Jan. 31, 1998. But the government didn't meet that deadline and has yet to accept the waste.

Two months ago, in a milestone in the government's effort to provide a permanent storage site for nuclear waste, the Bush administration applied for a license for the first national repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

But earlier this week, the Energy Department estimated the repository will cost $96.2 billion through the time it is sealed in 2133, up more than two-thirds from the last estimate in 2001, giving more ammunition to the plant's opponents.