[Clarification of Comment on DOE Second Nuclear Waste Repository Issue]

B-223315,B-223370: Sep 18, 1986

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GAO commented on its opinion on the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to site a second nuclear waste repository. GAO noted that, while the Nuclear Waste Policy Act mandated no penalty for noncompliance, an aggrieved party could initiate litigation to attempt to force DOE to comply.

B-223315, B-223370, SEP 18, 1986

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

HONORABLE SLADE GORTON:

UNITED STATES SENATE

THIS IS IN RESPONSE TO YOUR REQUEST OF SEPTEMBER 15 FOR CLARIFICATION OF ONE ASPECT OF OUR OPINION TO YOU ON THE SECOND NUCLEAR WASTE REPOSITORY. SPECIFICALLY, IN COMMENTING ON THE DECISION BY THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY TO POSTPONE INDEFINITELY ACTIVITIES NEEDED TO LOCATE A SITE FOR THE SECOND REPOSITORY, WE SAID THAT FAILURE OF ADMINISTRATION TO MEET THE DEADLINES IN THE NUCLEAR WASTE POLICY ACT (42 U.S C. SEC. 10101 ET SEQ.) WOULD VIOLATE THE ACT, BUT THAT "THE ACT PRESCRIBES NO CONSEQUENCES FOR FAILURE TO MEET ITS DEADLINES." B-223315, B-223370, SEPTEMBER 12, 1986.

YOU OBSERVED IN YOUR LETTER THAT AN AGGRIEVED PARTY MAY GO TO COURT TO SEEK AN ORDER REQUIRING COMPLIANCE WITH THE MANDATE OF THE ACT. AS OF COURSE YOU KNOW, AND AS WE NOTED IN OUR OPINION, THE STATE OF WASHINGTON HAS DONE JUST THAT, ASKING THE NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, PURSUANT TO SECTION 119 OF THE ACT (42 U.S.C. SEC. 10139), EITHER TO ORDER THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY TO MEET THE STATUTORY DEADLINES OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, TO ENJOIN THE DEPARTMENT FROM PROCEEDING FURTHER WITH THE FIRST REPOSITORY. WE DID NOT INTEND TO IMPLY THAT THE COURTS COULD NOT ENTERTAIN SUCH AN ACTION SEEKING PROSPECTIVE RELIEF THAT WOULD REQUIRE FUTURE COMPLIANCE WITH THE ACT. RATHER, WE MEANT ONLY THAT THE ACT CONTAINS NO PENALTIES FOR PAST NONCOMPLIANCE.

I TRUST THIS WILL ALLEVIATE YOUR CONCERN.