Nuclear Materials:

Additional Information on Shipments From DOE's Rocky Flats Plant

RCED-89-61FS: Published: Dec 14, 1988. Publicly Released: Jan 19, 1989.

Additional Materials:


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In response to a congressional request, GAO discussed the transportation factors associated with four alternatives for relocating plutonium processing operations from the Rocky Flats, Colorado, plant to other Department of Energy (DOE) locations, focusing on: (1) Sandia National Laboratory's consideration of human error in estimating risks; (2) testing of DOE transportation containers; (3) continued radiological risks to Rocky Flats workers; (4) possible relocation sites; (5) origins of waste and scrap materials; (6) the adequacy of the DOE transportation fleet; and (7) the use of Nuclear Regulatory Commission data in estimating the economic consequences of a transportation accident.

GAO found that: (1) Sandia did not consider potential human error in estimating the risks associated with shipping the plutonium because a staff member believed that it would not affect the risk calculations; (2) contractor personnel at the Rocky Flats plant had not adequately tested the durability of the container used for transporting oxides, since they believed that container inspection procedures would detect any problems; (3) radiological risks to workers at Rocky Flats would continue because relocation alternatives would not eliminate all operations involving plutonium at the plant; (4) although DOE considered relocating plutonium operations to an Idaho site, the site did not have plutonium processing capabilities; (5) Rocky Flats would continue to generate waste and scrap material from its existing operations, while materials pretreatment processes associated with moving some operations elsewhere would generate additional scrap materials; (6) increased material shipments to alternative locations could require five additional safety vehicles and personnel; and (7) Sandia used data pertaining to the four alternatives GAO reviewed to calculate the economic consequences of a transportation accident.

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    Priority Open Recommendations:

    Department of Labor
    GAO-19-395SP: Published: Apr 3, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2019.

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