Nuclear Health and Safety:

Radiation Events at DOE's Idaho National Engineering Laboratory

RCED-92-64FS: Published: Jan 13, 1992. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the extent to which the Department of Energy (DOE) considered nuclear events at its Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) in determining the INEL contractor's award fee, focusing on: (1) airborne radiation releases that may have exposed the public to radiation levels greater than current public exposure standards; and (2) events that resulted in one or more workers receiving radiation exposure that exceeded current annual standards.

GAO found that: (1) two radiation releases in 1956 and 1958 exceeded current public exposure limits; (2) agency records did not indicate that any nuclear-related events at INEL went unreported; (3) six events resulted in 25 workers receiving radiation doses in excess of current standards; (4) 5 of the 6 worker exposure incidents occurred before award fee contracts were introduced at INEL; and (5) it was unable to determine from records or discussions with DOE whether the event that occurred after INEL instituted award fees reduced the amount of award.

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