Nuclear, Waste Management & Decommissioning

DOE ordered to stop collecting fees for spent nuclear fuel site

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the Department of Energy to ask Congress to end a fee utilities pay for a nuclear spent fuel depository since no site is in development. The fee is collected as a one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour surcharge to pay for used nuclear fuel management.

According to Bloomberg, the circuit judge said the DOE did not come up with a court-ordered assessment to determine if the current fee is appropriate with talks over the Yucca Mountain project ending. Since DOE has not come up with legally adequate fee assessment, it was ordered to send Congress a proposal to change the fee to zero until it “chooses to comply with the act as it is currently written, or until Congress enacts an alternative waste management plan,” the article said.

Utilities paid $750 million into the fund last year, and the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners said in Bloomberg that more than $30 billion has been collected since the early 1980s for a nuclear waste repository.

“We agree with the court that unless and until the Energy Department’s repository program is restarted or another waste disposal program is developed, it is appropriate that the Nuclear Waste Fund fee be suspended,” said Ellen Ginsberg, general counsel for the Nuclear Energy Institute. “The court’s decision should prompt Congress to reform the government’s nuclear waste disposal program. We strongly encourage Congress to establish a new waste management entity, and endow it with the powers and funding necessary to achieve the goals originally established in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. We look forward to working with Congress as members develop legislative proposals to remedy the currently untenable situation.”

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