Nuclear Waste:

Information on DOE's Interim Transuranic Waste Storage Facilities

RCED-90-166: Published: Jun 8, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) remaining transuranic (TRU) waste storage capacity at Department of Energy (DOE) interim storage sites and projected dates when capacity will be exceeded; (2) statutory or administrative provisions limiting the amount of waste DOE could store at interim storage sites; and (3) planned alternatives to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for stored wastes.

GAO found that: (1) 6 DOE storage sites had the capacity to store an additional 8,700 to 9,700 cubic meters of TRU waste, and an additional storage facility could store about 393 plutonium-equivalent curies of TRU waste, but the extent of remaining storage capacity varied greatly from site to site; (2) 3 storage sites' space for contact-handled TRU waste was beginning to run out; (3) DOE was in the process of constructing or could construct additional storage facilities as needed, if no other safety restrictions applied; (4) although storage site officials did not identify any statutory restrictions on the amount of TRU waste that could be stored at the sites, certain administrative restrictions could affect storage at some sites; (5) due to regulations regarding waste storage mixtures, some storage sites would have to either revise their status permits or obtain state regulatory agency approval in order to expand capacity beyond permitted limits; (6) until WIPP is operational, DOE plans to continue TRU waste storage at its interim storage sites, but is exploring the possibility of storing TRU waste on Department of Defense-controlled property; and (7) DOE required each interim site to develop site-specific waste management plans describing how they would manage TRU waste until DOE constructed a final disposal site.

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