DOE's Efforts to Correct Environmental Problems of the Nuclear Weapons Complex

T-RCED-90-47: Published: Mar 15, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 1990.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to correct environmental problems in its nuclear weapons complex. GAO noted that: (1) the weapons complex faced such serious and costly environmental problems as inactive waste sites requiring cleanup, groundwater and soil contamination, facilities' noncompliance with environmental laws and standards, and delayed opening of a permanent waste repository; (2) although the full extent of environmental problems in the complex was unknown, data indicated that it could cost over $100 billion for environmental restoration; (3) to focus management attention on environmental problems, DOE underwent programmatic restructuring, issued a 5-year plan for environmental restoration and waste management, and took actions to make its contractors more accountable for environmental and safety matters; and (4) DOE requested $2.8 billion for fiscal year 1991 environmental restoration and waste management activities, although that amount would not fully fund all of the activities it outlined in its 5-year plan. GAO believes that, although DOE has taken several actions to better address environmental problems in its nuclear weapons complex, DOE must have more effective management systems in place to ensure that it: (1) identifies and obtains funding for the most serious environmental problems; (2) effectively manages and spends funds allocated for cleanup and waste management; and (3) maintains a strong commitment to resolving environmental problems.

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