DOE to pay out $19.3 to Energy Northwest in spent nuclear fuel lawsuit

A federal court awarded Energy Northwest $19.3 million in damages for the construction and licensing of a used nuclear fuel storage area at the Columbia Generating Station in Washington.

Energy Northwest filed a second action in July 2011 for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) continuing breach of contract for the time frame of September 1, 2006 to June 30, 2012, seeking $24.9 million in damages. The recent court award of $19.3 million is only a portion of the damages claim, with the remainder anticipated to be determined at a later date.

Energy Northwest filed an initial lawsuit against the DOE in January 2004 seeking more than $56 million in damages. A 2006 ruling determined that DOE was in breach of contract for failing to begin accepting used nuclear fuel from the nuclear industry beginning in January 1998, the date the national repository was supposed to be made available. The case was tried in February 2009, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims awarded Energy Northwest full damages a year later. DOE appealed a portion of the claim.

A federal appeals court ruled in April 2011 that Energy Northwest was rightfully granted $2.9 million in overhead costs, but the government was not required to pay $6 million in interest charges. Energy Northwest, without waiving its rights on the merits of the claim, decided to forego further trial on the nuclear plant modifications portion of the claim in order to expedite payment of the judgment.

In July 2011, a federal court ruled to award Energy Northwest more than $48.7 million in damages for the construction and licensing of a used fuel storage area at the Columbia plant.

Energy Northwest is one of 60 such cases filed by nuclear utilities against the DOE.

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