Yankee Rowe Used Nuclear Fuel and
High Level Radioactive Waste
Safely Stored and Ready for Transport
Safe storage of the used fuel and GTCC waste at the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation facility in accordance with all applicable federal regulations is now the primary focus at the Yankee Rowe site until the U.S. government meets its statutory and contractual obligation to remove the material.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is legally responsible for permanently removing used nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste from nuclear plant sites in the United States. They have failed to meet that obligation which was to have begun by the end of January 1998. Given the uncertainty about when the federal government will fulfill its commitment, used nuclear fuel and high level waste is likely to remain at the Yankee Rowe site for many years.
At the permanently shutdown Yankee Rowe nuclear plant in Western Massachusetts, the used fuel and high level radioactive waste known as Greater Than Class C Radioactive Waste (GTCC waste) is stored in 16 airtight, stainless steel shipping canisters placed inside steel-lined concrete casks. The fuel and GTCC waste will be stored on the Yankee Rowe site until it is removed by the DOE.
This storage system is a dual-purpose system licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that not only safely stores the fuel and GTCC waste in stainless steel canisters inside heavy steel-lined concrete structures, but also packages the fuel and GTCC waste for transport. The stainless steel fuel canisters are designed to be removed from the steel-lined concrete casks and placed inside a specially designed shipping container for transport likely by truck and rail.
Recovering Monetary Damages for Yankee Rowe Ratepayers
Since 1998 Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company, Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company, and Yankee Atomic Electric Company have been in litigation with the DOE seeking monetary damages as a result of the DOE's partial breach of its contractual obligations to take title and begin removing spent nuclear fuel and Greater than Class C waste from the three sites by the end of January 1998. Four rounds of litigation are now complete. To date the 3 Yankee Companies have recovered for their ratepayers approximately $575 million in court awarded damages.
The longer the Federal Government delays in fulfilling its contractual obligation to remove the material, the longer these single-asset companies are required to remain in business and the damages will continue. The ongoing litigation between the three companies and the DOE is being conducted in phases as an earlier U.S. Federal Appeals Court decision ruled that utility companies, such as the three Yankee Companies, cannot receive damage awards for costs that have not yet been incurred. As a result, the three companies expect to continue to litigate with the DOE every several years to request damages for costs incurred by ratepayers resulting from the federal government's failure to remove the SNF from the three Yankee sites as required by contract.
At the conclusion of the Phase I cases and all appeals, in early 2013 the three companies received payment of approximately $160 million in court awarded damages from the Federal Government for the years through 2001 for Connecticut Yankee and Yankee Atomic and through 2002 for Maine Yankee.
In November 2013, as a result of the Phase II litigation, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge James F. Merow awarded the three companies approximately $235.4 million in damages for the years 2002/3-2008 resulting from DOE's continuing failure to remove the spent nuclear fuel and Greater than Class C waste from the sites. The Federal Government decided not to appeal Judge Merow's ruling and the Phase II awards were paid by the U.S. Treasury to the three companies in the spring of 2014.
In April 2016 as a result of the Phase III litigation filed in 2013, Judge Merow awarded the three companies approximately $76.8 million in damages for the years 2009/2012 resulting from the DOE’s continuing failure to remove the spent nuclear fuel and Greater than Class C waste from the sites. The Federal Government decided not to appeal Judge Merow's ruling and the Phase IIl awards were paid by the U.S. Treasury to the three companies in the fall of 2016.
In February 2019 as a result of the Phase IV litigation filed in 2017, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Nancy Firestone issued her decision on a motion for partial summary judgment filed in July 2018 by Maine Yankee, Connecticut Yankee, and Yankee Atomic awarding the three companies approximately $103.2 million in undisputed damages for costs related to the federal government's continuing failure to honor its contractual obligations to remove spent nuclear fuel and Greater than Class C waste from the three sites for the period January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2016. The undisputed damages awards were paid by the U.S. Treasury to the three companies in June 2019. Also in June, the 3 Yankee Companies and the DOE agreed to a negotiated Order of Judgment for $500,000 to resolve the disputed damages in the Phase IV cases. Receipt of these additional damages from the U.S, Treasury occurred in July 2019.
The Phase I-III DOE litigation proceeds were disbursed consistent with the provisions of a 2013 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order. The FERC approved a filing following the award of the Phase I damages funds that accepted an agreement reached between the three companies and the state utility regulators in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts that have historically intervened in the companies' FERC rate cases. That agreement detailed an approach for applying the Phase I damages proceeds and future damages awards that best serves the interests of the ratepayers in their state. The Phase IV proceeds are expected to be dispositioned in a similar manner.
Please go to the Document Room to read the court decisions and company statements that include further background information regarding the ongoing litigation.