Nuclear operators win more spent fuel damages

DOE

With the United States not having a waste repository, commercial nuclear power plant operators continue to win legal damages due to the failure of the Department of Energy (DOE) to collect and dispose of spent nuclear fuel.

Two recent opinions from different judges for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims have resulted in about $133m worth of damages for Energy Northwest (EW) and utilities that are now part of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK).

Two Progress Energy subsidiaries that have since been folded into Duke have been awarded almost $104m from due to the failure of the DOE to take possession of the nuclear fuel from the affected reactor units.

One opinion against DOE was issued March 10 by U.S Court of Federal Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler. The rulings on behalf of Carolina Power & Light (CP&L) and Florida Power were secured in a “Round 2” spent fuel damages case that involves damages from January 2006 through December 2010 at the Harris, Brunswick, Robinson and Crystal River sites.

The plaintiffs had sought roughly $105m. The defendant DOE had acknowledged that the plaintiffs were entitled to recover about $82m.

The Round 2 damages were sought for projects such as design and construction of new dry cask storage or installation of additional racks at a reactor's spent fuel pool. The court disallowed recovery of some costs - such as replacement of the Brunswick computer system.

The court held that the plaintiffs would have incurred these expenses for other reasons absent DOE's partial breach. Judge Wheeler conducted a three-day trial in Washington, D.C. during September 23-25, 2013. The ruling in the Progress Energy case, No. 11-869C was issued March 10 by Court of Federal Claims.

Energy Northwest wins judgment: On March 11 Court of Federal Claims Judge Elaine Kaplan granted Energy Northwest's motion for summary judgment for $19.3m in undisputed dry cask storage costs.

Kaplan, however, denied the Energy Northwest motion for $3.6m in cask loading costs. Energy Northwest sought damages for the period spanning form September 2006 through June 2012. Energy Northwest operates the 1,100-MW Columbia nuclear plant in Richland, Wash.

Energy Northwest versus United States of America No. 11-447C.

This article was republished with permission from GenerationHub.

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