DOE Does Not Plan To Use an Abandoned Salt Mine at Lyons, Kansas, for Nuclear High-Level Waste Disposal

EMD-82-64: Published: Mar 23, 1982. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1982.

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GAO was requested to determine how the Department of Energy (DOE) and a corporation intend to use an abandoned salt mine near Lyons, Kansas. Even though the corporation bought the mine as a potential low-level nuclear waste burial site, concerns have persisted that DOE intends to use it for high-level nuclear waste disposal.

The current DOE high-level waste disposal program is aimed at opening an underground repository by the end of this century. To meet this schedule, DOE hopes to identify three potential repository sites during 1983 and begin construction of exploratory shafts at each location to determine their suitability as permanent disposal facilities. DOE has tentatively identified two of the sites which are both on Federal lands and already dedicated to nuclear activities. The third site is expected to be in a salt formation. The corporation has submitted an application requesting a license to operate the abandoned salt mine for low-level nuclear waste disposal, but the license has not yet been granted. Based on its many years of tracking and reporting on the DOE high-level nuclear waste program, GAO was confident that the Lyons salt mine was no longer being considered for high-level nuclear waste disposal. In addition, officials from both DOE and the corporation confirmed that the site was not part of the high-level waste program.

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