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$24 Billion Nuclear Waste Fund Going To Waste

The U.S. has a $24 billion nuclear waste fund that, well, is going to waste, Propublica reports. The fund has been accumulating since 1982 through a tax on nuclear waste. Nuclear power operators and customers pas the tax. The money was supposed to go toward a proposed nuclear waste repository in Nevada's Yucca Mountain , but President Obama has abandoned that plan. So now, there are billions of dollars available with no plan to spend it. From the Propublica report: To compound the problem, the 1982 law only allows the money to be spent on a permanent solution, such as Yucca, and it can't be used for what many experts say is the best interim solution: taking spent fuel out of increasingly crowded cooling pools and encasing them in concrete and steel. So, nuclear companies have begun doing that themselves -- and have been suing the government for not holding up its side of the bargain. The companies have filed dozens of lawsuits, for $6.4 billion in total claims, according to figures maintained by the Department of Justice. The government has already paid out $956 million. It's also spent nearly $170 million simply defending itself against the claims. "Basically lawyers are getting rich and nobody is really better off, as far as I can tell. That seems to be the bottom line," Allison MacFarlane, a professor at George Mason University, said at a February meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, a federal advisory committee on which she sits. Read the rest of the story here.