As Nuclear Waste Languishes, Expense to U.S. Taxpayers Could Reach
By Matthew L. Wald, NYTimes, February 17, 2008.
"Forgotten but not gone, the waste from more than 100 nuclear
reactors that the federal government was supposed to start accepting
for burial 10 years ago is still at the reactor sites, at least 20
years behind schedule. But it is making itself felt in the federal
budget. With court orders and settlements, the federal government has
already paid the utilities $342 million... The payments come from an
obscure and poorly understood government account that requires no new
Congressional appropriations, and will balloon in size, experts said.
The payments are due because the reactor owners were all required to
sign contracts with the Energy Department in the early 1980s, with
the government promising to dispose of the waste for a fee of a 10th
of a cent per kilowatt-hour. It was supposed to begin taking away the
fuel in the then far-off year of 1998... If the repository that the
government is trying to develop at Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas,
could start accepting waste at the date now officially projected, in
2017, the damages would run about $7 billion, according to Edward F.
Sproat III, director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste
Management... If the repository opens in 2020, the damages would come
to about $11 billion, he said, and for each year beyond that, about
$500 million more. The industry says the total could reach $35 billion."