Nuclear Waste:

New York's Adherence to Site Selection Procedures Is Unclear

RCED-92-172: Published: Aug 11, 1992. Publicly Released: Aug 24, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the New York Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission's site selection process for a low level radioactive waste disposal facility.

GAO found that: (1) although the Commission decided to include one site among those to be evaluated in more detail, it did not follow its procedures, since the site contained more productive agricultural land than state regulations allowed and the numerical score that the Commission's staff assigned to the site was less than the minimum score for further site consideration; (2) the Commission's actions raise questions about how closely the Commission followed procedures, such as determining if the site offer was made in good faith and notifying local governments of the offer; (3) Commission officials included the site for further study because of the possibility of obtaining a waiver from the agricultural criterion and because it seemed reasonable to further examine offered sites if they appeared to have potential; (4) the counties that contain the four other potential sites have raised other issues regarding compliance with the siting guidelines and the sites' technical qualifications, including the Commission's ability to obtain evidence that various characteristics of the sites will be adequate for a low-level radioactive waste facility; and (5) documenting compliance with and deviations from the procedures could help to establish and maintain credibility in the siting process, although it is up to the Commission to interpret its own siting procedures.