Nuclear Health and Safety:

Environmental, Health, and Safety Practices at Naval Reactors Facilities

RCED-91-157: Published: Aug 1, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 3, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the environmental, health, and safety practices at the Department of Energy's Naval Reactors Program facilities, focusing on the programs and procedures the Naval Reactors implemented to: (1) protect the environment; and (2) ensure the health and safety of workers and the public.

GAO found that: (1) Naval Reactors and its contractors developed and implemented adequate procedures to protect workers and the environment from radiation exposure and other hazardous materials, including asbestos; (2) Naval Reactors requires its workers to take an extensive initial radioactive training course and periodically retrains them on safety procedures; (3) each laboratory and site conducts routine radiological surveys of facilities either daily, weekly, monthly, or annually; (4) records concluded that, since 1967, no Naval Reactors Program personnel has exceeded the federal radiation exposure limit, or the Naval Reactors administrative limit since 1984; (5) the prototype reactor design provides safety measures consistent with commercial nuclear power requirements, but minor environmental and safety accidents have occurred, and past activities resulted in environmental problems that require continuous monitoring; (6) Naval Reactors' asbestos control procedures and requirements either met or exceeded federal standards; (7) although Naval Reactors was previously exempt from oversight, some federal and state environmental oversight agencies have recently been permitted access to Naval Reactors facilities; (8) Naval Reactors and its contractors established an extensive internal oversight program aimed at reporting requirement or procedure deviations; and (9) although Naval Reactors did not routinely overclassify information to prevent public disclosure, it did occasionally misclassify documents.

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