The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today affirmed a $159.6 million damages award to three nuclear utilities in the long-running spent nuclear fuel battle with the federal government.
Yankee Atomic Electric Co., Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co., and Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Co., (the Yankees) were the first of approximately 50 lawsuits charging the federal government with breach of contract for its failure to accept and dispose of radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear utilities.
The federal government has paid an estimated $2 billion in settlements and damages, according to Jerry Stouck of Greenberg Traurig who filed the first Yankee case in February 1998. Stouck and his team handled the trials and first of three appeals in the three Yankee lawsuits. Catherine Stetson of Hogans Lovells handled the most recent appeals with Stouck on the briefs.
The three Yankees originally sought damages to compensate for the cost of storing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste beyond the time that the government promised by contract to begin storing that waste in a permanent and secure repository.
The damages awards cover the period through 2002 for Yankee Atomic and Connecticut Yankee and through 2003 for Maine Yankee. An earlier Federal Circuit decision held that the nuclear utilities could only sue for retrospective not prospective damages. Successive suits would have to be filed periodically to recover already-incurred costs until the federal government opens a waste repository. Yucca Mountain, Nev., was the designated waste site, but has been delayed by controversy for years.
Chief Judge Randall Rader, joined by judges Alan Lourie and Kimberly Moore, wrote the opinion affirming the damages awards in Yankee Atomic Electric Co. v. U.S.