The owners of Maine Yankee have been awarded nearly $25 million in their latest lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to remove spent nuclear fuel from the site of the former nuclear power plant in Wiscasset.

In a decision issued Thursday, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge James H. Merow also awarded damages to the owners of closed Yankee nuclear power plants in Connecticut and Massachusetts, ruling that the federal government hasn’t fulfilled its contractual obligation to remove spent fuel from those sites as well.

The owners of Maine Yankee are due $24.6 million, the owners of the Connecticut plant were awarded $32.6 million and the owners of the Massachusetts plant were awarded $19.6 million.

The lawsuit covers the period from 2009 to 2012.

The federal government has 60 days to appeal the ruling. Maine Yankee uses the money from the awards to maintain the Wiscasset site, where 60 cannisters of spent fuel and four cannisters of irradiated steel are stored.

The plant was shut down in 1997 and the federal government was supposed to start removing spent fuel in 1998, but Congress has never been able to agree on where to locate a facility to store the spent radioactive fuel.

The award is the third for the three Yankee nuclear plants, which share some ownership and management but are separate companies, said Eric Howes, director of public and government affairs for Maine Yankee.

In the past two lawsuits, Maine Yankee was awarded a total of $117.5 million in damages. The government appealed the first ruling, Howes said, but didn’t appeal the second.

Howes said it costs about $10 million a year to store the waste in Wiscasset. He said he expects the owners of Maine Yankee, which include Central Maine Power and Emera Energy in Maine, to file another lawsuit to recover damages for the period since 2013.

He said the periodic damage awards mean that Mane Yankee has not needed ratepayer money to operate the site.

Howes said the utilities support a proposal to set up a pilot program to remove the fuel from the former nuclear plant sites to an interim storage facility until Congress establishes a permanent storage site.

That plan is pending in Congress.

Ed Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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