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Yankee Atomic Elec. Co. v. United States

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20202
Nos. Nos. 2007-5025 et al., (Fed. Cir., 08/07/2008) Aff'd in part and rev'd in part

The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded in part a lower court's assessment of damages in a contract dispute arising from the government's failure to accept and dispose of radioactive waste from nuclear utilities. The nuclear utilities originally brought this action seeking damages to compensate for the cost of storing spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) beyond the time that the government promised to begin storing that waste in a permanent and secure repository. Because the lower court did not assess damages according to the rate at which the government was contractually obligated to accept the utilities' waste, the case was reversed and remanded. Damages for costs incurred after the government's breach were required to be calculated with reference to what plaintiff's costs would have been had the government accepted waste at a rate found in the standard contract. And although the lower court's findings were correct with respect to the foreseeability and reasonableness prongs of the pre-breach mitigation damages test, it must nevertheless remand as to causation. In addition, the proper valuation of "Greater-Than-Class-C" waste disposal (as opposed to SNF and HLW) remains open for adjudication in future proceedings once the costs of the operation are fully realized and understood. The lower court, however, properly determined that the government was not entitled to collect from plaintiffs a fee agreed upon in the contract, but not yet due, to offset the damages. It also properly determined that it lacked jurisdiction over claims of possible future damages.

[Prior and related decisions can be found at 31 ELR 20066 and 38 ELR 20203.]