Impact of Federal R&D Funding on Three Mile Island Cleanup Costs

EMD-82-28: Published: Jan 15, 1982. Publicly Released: Jan 21, 1982.

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GAO was asked to respond to several questions concerning proposals to finance the cleanup of Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2): (1) the differences between the two Department of Energy (DOE) proposed expenditures for TMI activities; (2) the extent to which the state funding plan for TMI cleanup assumes that the federal contribution would offset $190 million of the estimated $760 million cleanup cost; (3) how much of the $760 million will be offset by the DOE proposed $123 million program; (4) what the administration's operative definition of research and development is; and (5) to what extent the DOE program at TMI-2 is directed at obtaining information useful for preventing and handling a damaged core.

GAO found that there is no disagreement between the two estimates for the data acquisition effort and the research and development program. However, DOE acknowledges that delays in the cleanup process could result in an increase in the overall $123 million estimate. The proposed $123 million for federal participation at TMI-2 does not meet the 100-percent offset envisioned in the proposal, but the Governor of Pennsylvania has stated that the proposed shares are flexible and subject to negotiation as the cleanup effort evolves. An analysis of the scope of the work completed and planned, and the actual and estimated costs for the DOE programs, indicated that the $760 million estimate could be offset by about $67 to $69 million as a direct and indirect effect of the federal contribution. The basic definition of research and development was included in the Atomic Energy Act of 1951, and the most direct application to work on TMI-2 is provided for in the Nuclear Safety Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 1980. Additionally, DOE found that most of the $54 million allocated for reactor evaluation and about half of the $48 million data acquisition funding will go directly towards core-related activities. A major part of the remaining data acquisition funding will be used to develop methods for mitigating the effects of another accident involving core damage.

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