Court Increases Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Award to Kansas Plant Owners

Owners of the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Kansas are entitled to $12.6 million in damages stemming from the federal government’s partial breach of a contract for disposal of spent nuclear fuel, $2 million more than previously awarded, a federal court ruled last week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on July 12 reversed the U.S. Court of Federal Claims award of $10.6 million after a nine-day trial in June 2010. The appellate court agreed that the trial court correctly "did not award damages for cost of capital and for the costs associated with researching alternative storage options for spent nuclear fuel," Chief Judge Randall Rader wrote in the court’s opinion, but held that it erred in how it calculated the other damages.

The 1,226-MW nuclear plant near Burlington, Kan., is jointly owned by Kansas Gas & Electric, Kansas City Power & Light and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative. The 1983-enacted Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) allowed the Department of Energy (DOE) to enter contracts that required nuclear plant owners to pay fees into the Nuclear Waste Fund in exchange for which the DOE would begin to dispose of spent nuclear fuel no later than January 1998. The government’s first collection of spent nuclear fuel at the Wolf Creek plant should have begun in 2006, court records show.

The trial court awarded the Kansas Companies $10.6 million in 2010, but the federal appeals court last week said it "erred by not accepting the Kansas Companies’ reasonable method for calculating overhead costs," justifying the higher amount. 

Sources: POWERnews, U.S.

–Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)

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