For many years the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) have differed on the responsibility of the federal government for cleanup under the west Valley Demonstration Project Act and the responsibility for perpetual care of wastes after decontamination activities are complete. In 2006 New York sued the federal government over these issues and for reimbursement for environmental damage.
The parties mediated the matter before a court-appointed mediator and most of the issues were resolved by mutual agreement. A Consent Decree formalizing the settlement was approved in August 2010 by the US District Court.
The Consent Decree specifies the relative cost share of the state or federal government for each area of known contamination and provides a process for determining the cost share for contamination that may be found in the future. The Decree also requires the development of a detailed consultation plan for the remainder of the cleanup. The Decree does not set forth the cleanup alternatives or methods to be selected.
Several issues were not resolved during the negotiations. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires that any entity disposing of high level radioactive waste at a federal repository pay a fee for a share of the development and operation of the repository, There are currently 275 canisters of high level waste stored at WVDP. The associated fee disposal fee is estimated to be $250 million. The parties will continue to negotiate and litigate this claim. The claim concerning damages to natural resources was also not resolved.