Nuclear Safety and Health:

Problems With Cleaning Up the Solar Ponds at Rocky Flats

RCED-91-31: Published: Jan 3, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1991.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) progress in cleaning up solar evaporation ponds at its Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant.

GAO found that: (1) in September 1986, DOE had to reclassify the ponds' low-level radioactive waste to mixed waste after detecting low concentrations of hazardous waste; (2) the reclassification resulted in the requirement that DOE obtain the necessary permits for hazardous waste storage and disposal; (3) the DOE contractor improperly mixed the cement and sludge waste in making pondcrete, a solidified waste form, causing thousands of pondcrete blocks to crumble and crack; (4) pondcrete packaging material deteriorated under adverse weather conditions; (5) lack of program plans and control mechanisms contributed to the cleanup problems; (6) the contractor developed procedures for processing pondcrete, reinspecting all pondcrete boxes, frequent monitoring of storage pads, and repackaging failed pondcrete boxes; (7) in addition to remixing and repackaging more than 8,000 pondcrete blocks, DOE still had to remove sediment from the largest pond and clean out the remaining four; (8) continued cleanup could result in the production of as many as 20,000 additional pondcrete blocks; and (9) DOE believed that the total project cost would be over $100 million.

Sep 8, 2017

Sep 5, 2017

May 26, 2017

May 25, 2017

May 24, 2017

May 17, 2017

May 3, 2017

May 1, 2017

Apr 26, 2017

Apr 11, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here