Nuclear Science:

Status of DOE's Self-Supporting Isotope Program

T-RCED-92-88: Published: Aug 12, 1992. Publicly Released: Aug 12, 1992.

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GAO discussed its report on the Department of Energy's (DOE) Isotope Production and Distribution (IP&D) Program. GAO noted that: (1) the program has depleted its $16-million operating fund and is currently borrowing to meet operating expenses; (2) the IP&D Program can not control production costs of radioisotopes at nondedicated production sites and can not afford to operate and maintain its dedicated production facilities for stable isotopes; (3) after 2 years of experience, program officials have found that competition in the isotope market makes it difficult to establish a full cost recovery program and still sell isotopes at competitive prices; (4) the IP&D operating fund does not have capital to invest in equipment or research, but isotope research is needed to meet a growing demand for new medical isotopes for therapy and new diagnostic isotopes; (5) program officials have borrowed funds, discontinued one expensive operation, and collected a past debt from another DOE division to help the IP&D program continue operations; and (6) DOE has engaged a consulting firm to help it develop solutions to the program's problems, help determine the scope of the program, and identify options for financing it.

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