NRC's Oversight of Licensees' Decommissioning Practices Can Be Improved

T-RCED-89-57: Published: Aug 3, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 3, 1989.

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GAO discussed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) decommissioning requirements for obsolete nuclear facilities, focusing on nuclear fuel facility licenses. GAO found that: (1) NRC requires owners of obsolete nuclear facilities to remove the facilities safely from service and reduce residual radioactivity to allow unrestricted property use; (2) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not finish developing standards for residual radioactivity until 1992; (3) NRC released property for unrestricted use despite radioactive contamination significantly higher than its guidelines allowed; (4) NRC did not require its licensees to monitor buried low-level radioactive waste for soil or groundwater contamination; (5) NRC has not developed regulations to implement its environmental enforcement authority; and (6) NRC may have to change its regulations when EPA completes its residual radiation guidelines.

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