SMUD v. DOE Nuke Payment Lawsuit Continues

By Published On: September 2, 2005

In a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District continues to insist that the federal government return the money it’s invested in the Nuclear Waste Fund that is supposed to guarantee long-term storage for radioactive waste. The Department of Energy has yet to begin building long-term storage, which presumably will be at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Meanwhile, the utility proceeded to invest in alternative means of decommissioning its Rancho Seco nuclear plant. The case is being closely watched by nuclear power plant owners. “SMUD’s actions were driven by the fact that the federal government had taken our money, hadn’t come to take our spent fuel, and was telling us they weren’t going to come until at least 2010, which put us in a horrible financial situation having to spend a bunch of money that really was owed to us by the federal government,” former SMUD general manager S. David Freeman stated in an August 22 post-trial brief. The federal government maintains that there has been no breach of contract and thus no reason to pay the utility. The government said SMUD botched any return of funds when it transferred radioactive waste to dry-cask storage, because the government has no ability to remove the casks to a permanent storage facility if one existed. The utility claims more than $76 million in damages. SMUD expects a decision by the end of the year, according to attorney Steve Cohn.

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