Environmental campaigners have accused the Government of preparing to allow a multi-million pound "handout" to firms building nuclear reactors.
Greenpeace said the move went against assurances given by ministers that the nuclear industry would not receive handouts to help build new nuclear power stations.
A study commissioned by the group claimed that firms would not be liable for dealing with the waste from new reactors, leaving the taxpayer with bills running into billions. The report, written by Ian Jackson, an associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said dealing with waste from each new reactor will cost around £1.5bn, but under current plans being considered by the Government, energy companies would "walk away", having contributed as little as £500 million.
Ben Ayliffe, senior energy campaigner for Greenpeace, said: "The Government has said there will be no public money for new nuclear power, but the unique financial model developed for this report shows that billions of pounds of public money could be spent to subsidise the nuclear industry, even though the Government is warning of painful cuts ahead for the country in key areas like education and health.
"If the coalition Government is going to gain the public's trust, they've got to stick to their word and abandon Labour's plans for subsidies to the nuclear industry."
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has described his new responsibility for building UK nuclear power stations as an "unpleasant" compromise by his party, the Liberal Democrats.