Environmental Aspects of the Department of Energy's Nuclear Defense Activities

T-RCED-87-7: Published: Mar 17, 1987. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 1987.

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GAO discussed its work concerning environmental aspects of the Department of Energy's (DOE) nuclear defense facilities. GAO found that, because DOE has not given sufficient emphasis to environmental protection at its facilities: (1) their operations have contaminated groundwater and soil with high levels of both radioactive and hazardous substances; (2) the facilities do not fully comply with environmental laws; (3) it will have to spend billions of dollars to acquire the necessary environmental permits, change some of its operating and disposal practices, and clean up existing contamination; and (4) some sites may be irreversibly contaminated and may require long-term institutional control. GAO believes that DOE should: (1) provide Congress with a comprehensive report on its plans, milestones, and cost estimates to bring its facilities into full compliance with applicable environmental laws; and (2) develop an overall groundwater and soil protection strategy. GAO believes that this will provide Congress and DOE with a better perspective on the environmental risks and impacts of DOE operations and of the budgetary implications and time frames associated with the cleanup activities required.

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