Correcting Environmental Problems Facing the Nuclear Weapons Complex

T-RCED-90-85: Published: May 17, 1990. Publicly Released: May 17, 1990.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to correct the environmental problems facing the nuclear weapons complex. GAO found that: (1) in making nuclear weapons, enormous amounts of hazardous and radioactive wastes are generated, and DOE now faces serious and costly environmental problems; (2) DOE data show that it might cost over $100 billion to address the environmental problems; (3) future costs may be greater as more is learned about the nature and extent of contamination, because the full scope of the problems is unknown; (4) some areas of the weapons complex may be irreversibly contaminated and may require long-term institutional control; (5) DOE has made important changes to its organization that should help change its management focus from materials production to environmental concerns; (6) DOE must properly organize itself to manage the long-term program needed to address the many environmental problems it faces; and (7) DOE must have an effective management system to ensure that the most serious environmental problems are identified and adequately funded and that funds allocated to correcting environmental problems are used effectively.

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