There's been yet another delay in solving one of the most troublesome problems of the nuclear energy industry: where to put high-level radioactive waste. The United States Claims Court in Washington, D.C., has issued a permanent injunction that forbids the US Department of Energy (DOE) from negotiating with Bechtel Systems Management, Inc., for construction of a high-level nuclear waste facility in Nevada.

The reason: ``clear and convincing evidence'' that the bidding process was ``tainted'' by conflict of interest, according to the court opinion written by Judge Reginald Gibson.

The contract was worth an estimated $1 billion over 10 years.

Judge Gibson cited a law that forbids for one year DOE employees who are former supervisory employees of energy firms from ``knowingly'' participating in a DOE proceeding in which the firm was substantially involved. Judge Gibson said Sam Rousso, the chairman of the Energy Department's Source Evaluation Board, was employed by a firm ``which ultimately became a team member of the winning Bechtel proposal.''

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