The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on April 30 ruled that petitions filed in the nuclear waste storage lawsuit against the Department of Energy will be treated as petitions to compel the department to comply with a July 1996 court decision ordering the DOE to store nuclear waste beginning Jan. 31, 1998.
Meanwhile, a tunnel boring machine broke through the earth's surface at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (em the proposed storage site for the spent nuclear waste (em completing a five-mile dig that went as deep as 1,400 feet beneath the crest of the mountain.
The petitioners of the suit against DOE, which includes 49 state agencies and 42 utilities, seek to protect payments into the Nuclear Waste Fund. The lawsuits asked the federal court to stop payments into the nuclear waste fund, to escrow more than $600 million in nuclear waste fees collected annually and for other remedies.
But the court put the case on a fast-track schedule and limited filings as it moved on a course to force the DOE to take nuclear waste in 1998.
"This is the second time in only six weeks that the court has taken very unusual and positive steps in our suit against DOE," said Don Keskey of the Michigan Attorney General's Office, and lead attorney for the state's lawsuit against DOE.