Federal Research:

Final Site Selection Process for DOE's Super Collider

RCED-89-129BR: Published: Jun 16, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) site selection process for its superconducting super collider, focusing on whether the site task force: (1) verified data that states submitted and considered changes in the draft environmental impact statements in its site ratings; (2) provided evidence to support its technical evaluation of each site; and (3) considered residents' environmental and geological concerns.

GAO found that the site selection task force: (1) relied on information the states provided, primarily verifying data through site visits to the seven best-qualified sites and through the environmental impact statement process; (2) evaluated and rated the proposed sites in accordance with DOE technical and cost criteria and generally provided evidence to support its ratings; (3) did not provide sufficient documentation about its rating of one site under a geology and tunneling criterion and its estimate of underground construction costs; (4) rated all of the sites favorably under an electric power subcriterion, due to its possibly inappropriate use of a weakest-link theory; (5) selected a Texas site for the supercollider from among sites in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, and Tennessee; and (6) did not identify any significant problems in considering two Texas residents' concerns about hazards posed by fire ants, the reliability of geological data, and the potential hazard to nearby residents from increased levels of radiation exposure.

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