A Washington state utility has sued the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) over the agency’s alleged failure to remove radioactive waste from the utility’s nuclear plant as required by a 1983 contract. Energy Northwest v. U.S., No. 11-447 (Ct. Fed. Cl. filed 7/7/11). In an earlier breach of contract lawsuit filed in 2004, Energy Northwest won a motion for summary judgment and a $57 million award for damages the utility incurred between 1998 and 2006. In April 2011, the Federal Circuit partially granted DOE’s challenge to some $11 million of the $57 million award and remanded the matter to the lower court.

The 1983 contract stipulated that DOE would begin removing radioactive waste from the plant in 1998. In 1995, after an adequate repository for the waste had not been constructed, the agency determined it had no obligation to begin accepting nuclear waste. The complaint alleges that DOE is in breach of contract and that the utility has incurred and will continue to incur very substantial costs. Plaintiff seeks damages it has allegedly incurred since 2006.