Nuclear Waste:

Shipping Damaged Fuel From Three Mile Island to Idaho

RCED-87-123: Published: Aug 10, 1987. Publicly Released: Aug 13, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the Department of Energy's (DOE) program to ship damaged nuclear fuel from the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant to the DOE Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, specifically the: (1) DOE decision to ship the waste; (2) safety standards DOE used for the shipments; (3) criteria DOE used to select the shipping route; and (4) planning for emergencies that could occur along the route.

GAO found that: (1) DOE selected the Idaho facility because of its unique equipment and personnel expertise in the decontamination, processing and disposition of large-scale radioactive wastes; (2) the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reviewed the transportation equipment to ensure that radioactivity would not escape in the event of an accident; (3) DOE, NRC, the TMI owner, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the affected states worked together to ensure the program's safety; (4) the criteria for route selection were a high-quality track, avoidance of large population centers, and the most direct route; (5) DOE developed a contingency plan to mobilize special emergency teams to recover and clean up the waste in the event of an accident; and (6) the railroad and local and state governments would have primary responsibility for initiating and monitoring recovery operations if an accident occurred.

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