Federal Court to Energy Dept.: Stop Charging for Discarding Nuke Waste

Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 20, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

A U.S. fed­er­al ap­peals court on Tues­day said that the En­ergy De­part­ment may no longer charge con­sumers fees total­ing roughly $750 mil­lion an­nu­ally to un­der­write a nuc­le­ar waste-dis­pos­al ef­fort that does not ex­ist, the New York Times re­por­ted.

Al­though a law on the books since the 1980s al­lowed elec­tri­city com­pan­ies to col­lect the fed­er­al fee from en­ergy cus­tom­ers, Pres­id­ent Obama’s de­cision to stop work on the Yucca Moun­tain nuc­le­ar-waste re­pos­it­ory in Nevada has al­lowed the fund to build up some $30 bil­lion in un­used mon­ies. Roughly $7 bil­lion has been spent, ac­cord­ing to the Tues­day re­port.

“Un­til the de­part­ment comes to some con­clu­sion as to how nuc­le­ar wastes are to be de­pos­ited per­man­ently, it seems quite un­fair to force pe­ti­tion­ers to pay fees for a hy­po­thet­ic­al op­tion,” Judge Laurence Sil­ber­man wrote in his de­cision.

As used nuc­le­ar fuel is build­ing up in stor­age at re­act­or sites across the na­tion, Con­gress re­mains dead­locked on the re­pos­it­ory mat­ter, largely along party lines. The En­ergy De­part­ment had hoped to be­gin ac­cept­ing fuel for dis­pos­al by 1998, but now is look­ing at open­ing a site for dis­card­ing waste by 2048, the Times re­por­ted.

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