Nuclear Weapons Complex:

Reconfiguring DOE's Weapons Complex

T-RCED-91-40: Published: Apr 18, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to develop long-term modernization plans to address environmental and safety problems of its aging nuclear weapons complex. GAO noted that: (1) DOE still needs to make key decisions about the size of the complex, where to relocate plutonium operations, which technologies to use for new tritium production, and what to do with excess production; (2) the nation's future provision of tritium for nuclear weapons and management of its plutonium inventory were uncertain and undefined; (3) reconfiguration and modernization costs will be much greater than the $6.7 billion to $15.2 billion that DOE estimated, since its study did not include all upgrades and modernization projects; and (4) DOE failure to resolve such long-standing management issues as reliance on contractors and lack of technical expertise could be detrimental to any reconfiguration of the complex.

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