Quarterly Report on DOE's Nuclear Waste Program as of September 30, 1985
RCED-86-42, Oct 30, 1985
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on: (1) the status of the Department of Energy's (DOE) implementation of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982; (2) its progress in meeting legislated deadlines; (3) the status of the Nuclear Waste Fund; and (4) management initiatives and federal relations with states and Indian tribes.
The act: (1) established a program to develop and construct nuclear waste repositories for nuclear waste disposal; (2) requires consideration of the need for a federal waste facility to package, store, and monitor the waste until disposal; and (3) requires document preparation to aid in designing and selecting sites and cooperating with affected states and Indian tribes in implementing the program. GAO found that DOE has made progress in meeting the act's requirements, but continues to lag behind the legislative timetable. Although the act required that the environmental assessments be issued by January 1, 1985, DOE continued to receive comments on the assessments and did not expect to complete them until late 1985. DOE has issued its final regional characterization reports for the second repository program and its overall mission plan for the waste program. DOE also began internal negotiations to determine the fees to be paid to the Nuclear Waste Fund for the disposal of high-level defense wastes. A new lawsuit was filed during the quarter in which Tennessee contended that DOE violated the act when it conducted a study of the suitability of three Tennessee locations for a monitored retrievable storage facility without any state involvement. DOE is working to resolve inconsistencies in data on the verification of one-time fees for reactors and facilities. Although negotiations have begun with the Indian tribes for formal consultation and cooperation agreements, state and tribal leaders indicated that their confidence in DOE implementation of the program remained low.