The Future of DOE's Uranium Enrichment Program

T-RCED-88-50: Published: Jun 28, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 1988.

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GAO discussed legislative and administrative proposals for restructuring the Department of Energy's Uranium Enrichment Program. GAO noted that program problems included: (1) unused multibillion dollar payments for electricity; (2) uranium market uncertainties; (3) aging facilities; and (4) billions of dollars in unrecovered costs. GAO also noted that the proposed Uranium Revitalization, Tailings Reclamation and Enrichment Act of 1988 would: (1) restructure the program as a government corporation; (2) require the corporation to issue capital stock; (3) require the corporation to repay $364 million within 20 years; (4) authorize the corporation to borrow up to $2.5 billion from the private sector; (5) establish a decontamination and decommissioning fund for the corporation's property; and (6) exempt the corporation from Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing requirements. In addition, GAO noted that an administrative proposal for restructuring the program was similar to the proposed legislation, although it would: (1) establish a uranium revitalization fund from state and mine owner contributions and utility fees; (2) require NRC to issue its operating license within 5 years; and (3) not impose a fee on utilities that used foreign ore. GAO believes that, although the legislative and administrative proposals address some of the program's problems, Congress needs to give more consideration to repayment goals, decommissioning costs, the uranium stockpile, and corporate structure.

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