Nuclear Waste:

Quarterly Report as of September 30, 1989

RCED-90-103: Published: Mar 2, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of the Department of Energy's (DOE) implementation of mandated policies and procedures for nuclear waste storage, disposal, and transportation in an underground repository, focusing on: (1) whether DOE was ready to begin construction of the facility; and (2) how recent changes in scheduling and in its developmental approach have affected DOE activities.

GAO found that: (1) DOE did not begin construction on an exploratory shaft facility by November 1989, as planned, because it did not comply with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) quality assurance requirements, resolve facility-design problems, or obtain the required state permits; (2) DOE restructured the repository program, which extended site characterization and repository licensing deadlines to October 2001, exploratory shaft facility completion to November 1992, and underground testing deadlines to September 1995; (3) responding to state and NRC recommendations to identify disqualifying conditions early in site preparation, DOE planned to precede underground testing with surface testing, beginning in January 1991; and (4) the schedule extensions will allow DOE to reevaluate its plans for the exploratory shaft facility, resolve problems in obtaining state permits, and conduct thorough site investigations.

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