Nuclear Cleanup:

Difficulties in Coordinating Activities Under Two Environmental Laws

RCED-95-66: Published: Dec 22, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 22, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to clean up its nuclear waste sites and comply with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), focusing on: (1) the problems DOE has encountered in coordinating its nuclear waste cleanup activities; and (2) how DOE plans to improve its future cleanup activities.

GAO found that: (1) in 1988, DOE developed general operating principles for its facilities to use in negotiating interagency agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state agencies overseeing cleanup activities; (2) despite having a general framework for coordinating cleanup activities, DOE and its regulators have had difficulties coordinating schedules under RCRA and CERCLA; (3) many facilities have disagreed over how CERCLA requirements should be incorporated into ongoing cleanup activities under RCRA and the amount of additional paperwork needed to properly document compliance with CERCLA; and (4) DOE plans to issue additional guidance for coordinating activities under RCRA and CERCLA in 1995, work with EPA and state regulatory agencies to improve cleanup strategies, and address how RCRA and CERCLA requirements can be met.

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