Radioactive Waste:

Status of Commercial Low-Level Waste Facilities

RCED-95-67: Published: May 5, 1995. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed state efforts to dispose of the low-level radioactive waste that is generated commercially within their borders.

GAO found that: (1) 11 states plan to develop commercially generated low-level waste disposal facilities and the state of Washington plans to continue operating its existing disposal facility; (2) 4 states plan to complete facilities between 1997 and 2002, but the remaining states have yet to develop plans for their disposal facilities; (3) the slow progress of development is due to the controversial nature of nuclear waste disposal; (4) a smaller number of larger new facilities could accommodate the current volume of waste at less cost than a greater number of smaller facilities, but the volume of low-level waste could increase in the near future; (5) although new facilities will be necessary to store the waste in 33 states, the environmental effects of having 11 new facilities are unclear; and (6) shifting disposal responsibility from the states to the federal government could present significant challenges, and could undermine state progress in implementing the existing state approach.

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