The NFRC disagrees with this court decision. The federal government has the fiduciary responsibility to take possession of commercial nuclear power plant spent fuel. Billions of dollars have been collected from ratepayers to support the federal government's responsibility for managing the waste.
The 26-year-old nuclear reactor and dry storage facility are located 10 miles north of Richland, Washington. Energy Northwest sued the Department of Energy in 2004 for money it spent on moving spent nuclear fuel from its overcapacity spent fuel pools to a newly built dry storage facility.
Energy Northwest could not be reached for comment.
The contracts stipulated that the federal government was required to dispose of spent nuclear fuel generated by the reactor by 1998 and Energy Northwest was bound to prepare the waste for storage and contribute money to the Nuclear Waste Fund.
The Obama administration ended support for the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada, prompting DOE to withdraw its application for the project and forcing utilities to store waste on-site.
Nuclear plants must store spent fuel in pools for at least five years and thereafter can leave the rods in water indefinitely, but the pools can fill up depending on their arrangement and must be moved to dry storage, according to NRC. Energy Northwest determined by the early 1990s that the pool would reach capacity after 2003 if the government did not take the waste and decided in 1999 to build an "independent spent fuel storage installation" to store the fuel indefinitely in dry casks. The facility was approved to store spent nuclear fuel in 2002. (NYT, 4/8/2011)