Environmental, Safety, and Health Oversight of the Department of Energy's Operations

T-RCED-87-12: Published: Mar 25, 1987. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 1987.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) oversight of environmental safety and health (ES&H) programs. In the past several years, GAO has addressed several issues concerning the need for internal ES&H oversight programs and outside independent assessments of safety analysis reports and waste disposal practices. GAO found that: (1) some DOE facilities were irreversibly contaminated and required long-term institutional care; (2) as a result of earlier recommendations, DOE established initiatives aimed at revising the conduct of ES&H activities and safety appraisals at DOE sites; (3) some DOE safety reviews provided little or no comparison with design criteria or used different approaches to analyze serious accidents; and (4) DOE reluctance to allow for outside independent reviews facilitated a conflict between production goals and safety functions. GAO believes that the solution to existing environmental problems depends on the development of a groundwater and soil protection strategy and a comprehensive plan for bringing DOE facilities into full compliance with environmental laws.

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