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    Subject Term: "Nuclear waste disposal"

    8 publications with a total of 24 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a schedule for deciding whether the volumes of "potential waste" identified in the annual TRU waste inventory report can be disposed of at WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop guidance that helps sites produce a more comprehensive estimate for the volumes of TRU waste that may be generated in the future from cleanup operations, including estimates of buried waste, waste that may be generated from decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, and waste that may be generated past WIPP's expected closure date of 2050.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes the need for excavating additional disposal space at WIPP and an integrated schedule that describes how DOE will complete the regulatory approval process and construction of new space before WIPP's existing space is full.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes a timeline to help determine whether DOE can change its method of counting waste volumes to meet NNSA's 2020 milestone for resolving potential disposal space constraints at WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance DOE's ability to make risk-based decisions for the treatment of Hanford supplemental LAW, Congress should consider clarifying, in a manner that does not impair the regulatory authorities of EPA and the state of Washington, DOE's authority at Hanford to determine, in consultation with NRC, whether portions of the supplemental LAW can be managed as a waste type other than high-level waste.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to staff with the reports' addressees, Congress is considering whether to implement this Matter.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should develop updated information on the effectiveness of treating and disposing of all the different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites, and based on this information, identify potential treatment and disposal pathways for different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW, considering the risks posed by the LAW. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, DOE told GAO that it has commissioned a team of National Laboratory experts that has begun working on an independent review of supplemental low-activity waste treatment options. DOE noted that this review will address the effectiveness of treating and disposing of Hanford's supplemental low-activity waste with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should have an independent entity develop updated information on the lifecycle costs of treating and disposing of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, DOE told GAO that it has commissioned a team of National Laboratory experts that has begun working on an independent review of supplemental low-activity waste treatment options. DOE noted that this review will include a cost benefit analysis for treatment and disposal alternatives.
    Director: David Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the Office of Nuclear Energy to reassess its decision to engage in discussions with potential host communities, screen sites, or conduct other site selection activities until key prerequisites to these efforts--such as revising health and safety regulations--have been addressed.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prohibited DOE from spending money on a defense repository until the Secretary has developed an understanding of the costs and impacts to other priority programs within atomic energy defense activities. However, the President's fiscal year 2018 budget priorities include $120 million for DOE to resume licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. As of March 2017, a DOE official said they were waiting for authorization and direction on how to proceed.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the Office of Nuclear Energy to conduct a comprehensive assessment, which adheres to the Office of Management and Budget guidance and best practices, of the benefits, costs, and schedules of the options it reviewed and provided to the President in 2015, and, in light of the new information and results of its assessment, revise--if needed--the report's conclusion that a strong basis exists to find that a defense HLW repository is required.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (DOE) agreed with this recommendation in principle and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prohibited DOE from spending money on a defense repository until the Secretary has developed an understanding of the costs and impacts to other priority programs within atomic energy defense activities. However, the President's fiscal year 2018 budget priorities include $120 million for DOE to resume licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. As of March 2017, a DOE official said they were waiting for authorization and direction on how to proceed.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in assessing the alternatives, revise cost and schedule estimates for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System and the Tank Waste Characterization and Staging facility in accordance with industry best practices.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will monitor the status of this proposed requirement.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should revise the statements of mission need for the two proposed projects to allow DOE to consider a variety of alternatives without limiting potential solutions, consistent with the DOE requirement that mission need statements should not identify particular solution such as equipment, facility, or technology.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE DARTS report on 5/19/16, revision of the statement of mission for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System "has become overcome by events". We will continue to follow up on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in accordance with DOE's Office of River Protection quality assurance policy, conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems that have not been reviewed by DOE.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE agreed with the recommendations and in its written responses to our report stated that it had implemented them. However, we believe additional actions are needed, as indicated in the priority recommendations letter we sent to DOE in 2017. To fully address the recommendations, DOE should conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for the High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities should be further limited until aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed to address technical challenges that DOE, the contractor, and others have identified but not yet resolved.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE has noted that these activities were already limited and stated that a specific set of criteria has been established for resuming construction on the High Level Waste facility. However, as we noted in our report, an extent-of-condition review has not been performed on the remainder of the facility's systems, and recommendations from the facility's design and operability review have not been implemented. DOE also stated that construction on the Low Activity Waste facility is nearly complete, that the WTP Federal Project Director has a detailed risk register, and that each remaining risk is being proactively mitigated. This statement, however, does not fully reflect the extent or potential seriousness of the technical risks that remain. An extent-of-condition review may mean limiting the production of new design documents until this review is complete in order to avoid potential costly rework. We believe additional actions are needed. To fully address the recommendation, DOE should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for those facilities should be further limited until this review is completed and aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should enlist the services of another agency or external entity to serve as an owner's agent to assist the Office of River Protection in reviewing and evaluating the WTP contractor's design and approach to mitigating design challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress required DOE to meet this requirement in the 2016 NDAA, and DOE reports that they issued a contract to Parsons Government Services on September 29, 2015. We have requested a copy of this contract for review to ensure that the recommendation has been addressed.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop reliable cost estimates for the TRU waste removal project and for the TWF construction project at LANL, the Secretary of Energy should direct NNSA and the Office of Environmental Management to revise the cost estimate for the TRU waste removal project to ensure that it uses updated assumptions based on the current understanding of project conditions, such as the status of WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Department of Energy (DOE) officials indicated that a revised life-cycle baseline cost estimate was prepared for all Office of Environmental Management mission work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, including transuranic waste removal work. DOE approved the revised cost estimate in July 2016. After we review documentation of the estimate, we will evaluate whether it is sufficient to close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To develop reliable cost estimates for the TRU waste removal project and for the TWF construction project at LANL, the Secretary of Energy should direct NNSA to revise and update the TWF project's cost estimate by following all best practices for developing a reliable cost estimate that covers all life-cycle costs for better managing the project going forward.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (DOE) agreed with the recommendation. As of March 2017, DOE indicated that Los Alamos National Laboratory prepared a cost estimate for the operations and maintenance of the Transuranic Waste Facility (TWF) facility in December 2015, which was reviewed and accepted by the responsible program offices. DOE indicated that the revised estimate reflected operational costs for a seven-year window and incorporated applicable best practices, including documentation of any significant deviations and uncertainties impacting the estimate, among other things. After we obtain documentation of the estimate, we will evaluate the action to determine whether it is sufficient to close the recommendation as implemented.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's long-term plans for storing waste in the existing SSTs and DSTs at Hanford consider the condition of the tanks and the WTP construction delay, the Secretary of Energy should assess the extent to which the factors that may have led to corrosion in AY-102 are present in any of the other 27 DSTs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of Nov. 23, 2016, DOE is still working to empty the waste from the leaking tank as required by a 2014 settlement agreement with the State of Washington (scheduled to be complete in March 2017). Once the tank is emptied, DOE plans to assess the cause of the leak and begin to address the recommendation. When we confirm what actions DOE has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's long-term plans for storing waste in the existing SSTs and DSTs at Hanford consider the condition of the tanks and the WTP construction delay, the Secretary of Energy should update the schedule for retrieving waste from the tanks, taking into consideration (1) the impact of the delays in the WTP, (2) the risks associated with continuing to store waste in aging tanks, and (3) an analysis of available DST space.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of Nov. 23, 2016, DOE plans to update its Hanford Site System Plan by October 2017. According to DOE, this update will address the recommendation. When we confirm what actions DOE has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's long-term plans for storing waste in the existing SSTs and DSTs at Hanford consider the condition of the tanks and the WTP construction delay, the Secretary of Energy should assess the alternatives for creating new RCRA-compliant tank space for the waste from the SSTs, including building new DSTs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 6, 2016, DOE officials indicated that DOE intends to assess the feasibility of new DST construction as part of its update to the Hanford Site System Plan (to be released October 2017). According to DOE, several contingency actions will be included in the scenarios that will be analyzed including new DST construction. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help achieve and sustain public acceptance for future spent nuclearfuel management efforts, the Secretary of the Department of Energy should develop and implement a coordinated outreach strategy for providing information to specific stakeholders and the general public on federal activities related to managing spent nuclear fuel.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Khan, Asif A
    Phone: (202)512-8341

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to develop, document, and implement a program for financial management review, approval, assessment, and monitoring of the estimation and reporting processes for environmental liabilities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. DOD updated its November 20, 2006 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan to include a key milestone for developing a program to monitor the estimation and reporting process. It also stated that it would establish a workgroup to improve the financial reporting of environmental liabilities and to assist the military departments in meeting key milestones. The estimated completion date is June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that a program to monitor the estimation and reporting process for environmental liabilities was established by DOD. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not received supporting documentation so this recommendation remains open. We will continue to follow up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense Comptroller officials to obtain documentation and determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by including all appropriate budget elements for reporting financial liabilities for (1) the Navy's nuclear ships and submarines, (2) the Air Force's cleanup and restoration costs, and (3) all costs intended to be paid for with prior-year budgetary authority (e.g., unsigned contracts) by the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it has instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated a completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that a program to monitor the improved compliance with federal accounting standards and the DOD FMR guidance was established by DOD. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain such documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not received documentation so this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by reconciling the Army's, Navy's, and Air Force's installation-level environmental records to installation-level property records as required and then using the corrected site inventories to determine that all sites with cleanup or corrective action costs and all hazardous waste operations with cleanup or closure costs are included in financial reports of environmental liabilities and all are reported by the appropriate Defense component.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated the completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that procedures were established by the military departments to ensure that reconciliations are performed and all cleanup and closure costs are recorded in financial reports of environmental liabilities. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not obtained such documentation so this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by producing and maintaining adequate supporting documentation for Army, Navy, and Air Force environmental liabilities at all levels in accordance with internal control standards in the federal government.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated the completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that procedures were established to ensure that the military departments are producing and maintaining adequate supporting documentation for environmental liabilities at all levels in accordance with internal control standards in the Federal Government. We followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not obtained such documentation so this recommendation remains open.