Unless the Department of Energy (DOE) revisits its disposal needs and its current option for disposing of wastes off-site, it could miss opportunities to reduce cleanup costs at the Fernald, Oak Ridge, and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) sites and at other sites, such as Paducah, that might propose the development of new on-site facilities. Building in a decision checkpoint before major investment decisions are finalized could identify instances in which the use of off-site disposal would be less expensive, or when the cost difference no longer outweighs the long-term risks associated with on-site disposal. Such validation of the cost comparison is especially important in instances in which DOE is aware that the scope or timeframe of the cleanup effort has changed dramatically. Remaining open to new proposals for off-site disposal would also inject an element of competition into this process. Thus, even if the validation did nothing more than confirm the original decision to dispose of the wastes on-site, it has the potential to ensure that costs are kept to a minimum.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Energy||Before constructing new or expanding existing facilities for disposal of cleanup waste at Fernald, INEEL, and Oak Ridge sites, the Secretary of Energy should revisit the cost comparisons for on-site and off-site disposal to determine if the cost estimates used to support the Record of Decision remain valid. If cost advantages for on-site disposal have decreased, the Secretary should reassess whether expected cost savings from on-site disposal facilities outweigh the long-term risks associated with these proposed disposal facilities.|
|Department of Energy||DOE should validate cost comparisons at any other sites that may decide to develop an on-site disposal facility.|