December 9, 2016 / 7:58 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-German nuclear firms offer to forgo claims for deal on waste - letter

(adds comment from utilities, background)

BERLIN, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Nuclear power firms have written a letter to Germany’s parliamentarians saying they are prepared to drop some of their numerous legal claims in exchange for handing the bill for nuclear waste storage to the government.

Following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany imposed a three-month nuclear power moratorium, prompting E.ON, RWE and EnBW to seek 876 million euros ($924 million) in claims from the German government.

In a letter seen by Reuters, which was sent to the parliamentary groups of Germany’s Bundestag lower house, the utility companies said they were now willing to consider forgoing some of the claims if the recommendations made by Germany’s nuclear commission were made binding.

The commission has called for the creation of a nuclear fund to pay for the storage of nuclear waste. Under the proposal, which has yet to be formalised, the utilities would contribute 23.6 billion euros ($25 billion) in exchange for shifting liability for looking after the waste to the government.

RWE and Vattenfall confirmed the existence of the letter without commenting on its contents. E.ON and EnBW declined to comment.

According to the letter, the utilities are also prepared to forgo other claims related to finding a site to store nuclear waste, including at Gorleben, where they have spent a total of 1.74 billion euros so far.

Spiegel Online first reported the letter

The Fukushima disaster sparked a policy U-turn in Germany which decided to phase out nuclear power by 2022, devaluing the nuclear assets operated by the energy companies.

Germany’s highest court on Tuesday ruled that hastening the shutdown of nuclear plants after the Fukushima disaster violated some of the property rights of utility companies, allowing them to seek limited damages.

$1 = 0.9484 euros Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff, Chris Steitz and Markus Wacket; Writing by Michelle Martin and Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Potter

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