Nuclear Waste:

Defense Waste Processing Facility--Cost, Schedule, and Technical Issues

RCED-92-183: Published: Jun 17, 1992. Publicly Released: Jul 30, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the current status of the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) and other facilities that treat radioactive waste and transform it into a more stable glass form; and (2) cost, schedule, management, technical, and other issues that may affect the DWPF program.

GAO found that: (1) the DWPF program has experienced cost increases and is behind schedule, which is due in large part to ineffective management; (2) the supporting facilities critical to DWPF operation are experiencing similar problems; (3) the Department of Energy (DOE) focused on management problems in its reviews and assessments in 1991 and has since attempted to improve the situation; (4) because of current and potential technical problems, further cost and schedule changes are possible; (5) the two critical DWPF pretreatment processes continue to have problems and, although DOE is acting on the situation, a more thorough investigation is needed; and (6) since 1989, DOE has not presented Congress with adequate information on the DWPF program's cost increases and schedule slippages, but has plans underway to provide the information in the future.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE conducted the recommended study. An accomplishment report is being prepared.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct that an assessment and comparison of the ion-exchange process (IXP) technology and the in-tank precipitation (ITP) process/precipitate hydrolysis process (PHP) be prepared to determine whether DOE should accelerate its planned efforts to replace ITP/PHP with IXP.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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