Nuclear Nonproliferation:

Controls Over the Commercial Sale and Export of Tritium Can Be Improved

RCED-91-90: Published: Mar 25, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 1991.


Victor S. Rezendes
(202) 512-6082


Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the adequacy of the Department of Energy's (DOE) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) existing controls on the commercial sales and exports of tritium.

GAO found that: (1) DOE and its contractor-operated Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) were slow to investigate the major shipper-receiver and internal tritium discrepancies that allegedly occurred at ORNL in July and August of 1988; (2) DOE, ORNL, and other investigators identified a lack of appropriate ORNL management and DOE oversight as underlying causes of tritium discrepancies; and (3) NRC performed limited monitoring of tritium end use because it considered tritium less strategic than special nuclear materials.

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