Nuclear Waste:

DOE's Program to Prepare High-Level Radioactive Waste for Final Disposal

RCED-90-46FS: Published: Nov 9, 1989. Publicly Released: Dec 14, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Energy's (DOE) four high-level radioactive waste immobilization sites.

GAO found that: (1) the four sites stored an estimated total of 95 million gallons of waste in underground tanks; (2) DOE estimated $13 billion in processing, immobilization and storage costs; (3) complete waste immobilization could take 2 to 17 years; (4) the Savannah River immobilization facility was 2 years behind the 1983 projected schedule, but current costs corresponded with 1984 cost estimates; (5) although the West Valley immobilization project was 8 years behind its 1984 schedule, and the $1.1-billion cost estimate was almost double the 1984 estimate, a proposed 5-year plan could reduce costs by about $890 million; (6) the estimated 2008 Hanford facility completion date was questionable, because waste immobilization needs were uncertain and defense activities were expected to end ; (7) DOE had not yet determined the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory's (INEL) immobilization technology, since the facility was still in the early planning stages; and (8) because DOE will begin immobilization before a planned repository is completed, all the sites except INEL will initially store their waste on-site.

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