Uranium Mill Tailings:
Status and Future Costs of Cleanup
T-RCED-96-85, Feb 28, 1996
GAO discussed the status and cost of the Department of Energy's (DOE) uranium mill tailings cleanup program and the factors that could affect future costs. GAO noted that: (1) surface contamination cleanup has been completed at two-thirds of the identified sites and is underway at most of the others; (2) if DOE completes its surface cleanup program in 1998, it will have cost $2.3 billion, taken 8 years longer than expected, and be $261 million over budget; (3) DOE cleanup costs increased because there were more contaminated sites than anticipated, some sites were more contaminated than others, and changes were needed to respond to state and local concerns; (4) the future cost of the uranium mill tailings cleanup will largely depend on the future DOE role in the program, the remediation methods used, and the willingness of states to share final cleanup costs; and (5) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs to ensure that enough funds are collected from the responsible parties to protect U.S. taxpayers from future cleanup costs.