Nuclear Waste:

Information on Cost Growth in Site Characterization Cost Estimates

RCED-87-200FS: Published: Sep 10, 1987. Publicly Released: Sep 18, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) testing and site characterization for the three sites it is considering for the first repository for the permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste.

GAO found that: (1) in 1981, cost estimates of site characterizations ranged from $60 million to $80 million per site; (2) recent changes in program milestones have lengthened site characterization by 3 years and increased total life-cycle costs to $4.1 billion; (3) most of the increases were due to the addition of several unanticipated activities, such as sinking exploratory shafts, expanding the technical testing program, and funding for states and affected Indian tribes; and (4) since recent delays in the revised schedule could further escalate costs, DOE must adhere to the current schedule to stablize future cost estimates.

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