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GAO was asked to evaluate the Department of Energy's (DOE) light water reactor fuel utilization program. The objectives of the review were to ascertain how reasonable the DOE goals are; what progress DOE has had in meeting the goals; and what, if any, technical or regulatory problems need to be resolved. The original goals of the fuel utilization program were to demonstrate nuclear fuel savings improvements by 1988 that would permit utilities to reduce fuel requirements by 15 percent and to demonstrate further improvements by the year 2000 that could result in an additional 15-percent fuel savings. When DOE set up the program, it estimated that these savings, if realized, could extend the Nation's uranium reserves by 5 to 8 years.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy 1. The Secretary of Energy should defer spending research and development funds on fuel saving improvements which are at best only marginally attractive with reprocessing and recycling until a final decision is made on reprocessing and recycling policy.
Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.
Department of Energy 2. The Secretary of Energy should carefully consider the prospects for industry implementation to achieve maximum fuel savings and give priority to those improvements which offer both the highest fuel savings and the best chance of implementation to achieve those savings.
Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

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