Yucca Mountain: Persistent Quality Assurance Problems Could Delay Repository Licensing and Operation

GAO-04-460 Published: Apr 30, 2004. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2004.
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Highlights

The Department of Energy (DOE) must obtain a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to construct a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. In licensing, a quality assurance program helps ensure that the information used to demonstrate the safety of the repository is defensible and well documented. DOE developed a corrective action plan in 2002 to fix recurring problems with the accuracy of such information. This report assesses the status of corrective actions and the adequacy of DOE's plan to measure the effectiveness of actions taken.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy To better evaluate the effectiveness of management actions in correcting recurring quality problems, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Director, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, to revise the performance goals in the 2002 action plan to include quantifiable measures of the performance expected and time frames for achieving and maintaining this expected level of performance.
Closed – Implemented
DOE disagreed with both of our recommendations. However, we issued a follow up report, GAO-06-313, in March 2006, which reiterated our recommendations from GAO-04-460. In commenting on 06-313, DOE accepted our recommendations. By doing so, DOE has changed its mind and has in effect accepted our recommendations from 04-460. Subsequent actions taken by DOE in response to our QA reports are documented in form 66 for 06-313.
Department of Energy To better evaluate the effectiveness of management actions in correcting recurring quality problems, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Director, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, to close the 2002 plan once sufficient evidence shows that the recurring quality assurance problems and management weaknesses that are causing them have been successfully corrected.
Closed – Implemented
DOE disagreed with both of our recommendations. However, we issued a follow up report, GAO-06-313, in March 2006, which reiterated our recommendations from GAO-04-460. In commenting on 06-313, DOE accepted our recommendations. By doing so, DOE has changed its mind and has in effect accepted our recommendations from 04-460. Subsequent actions taken by DOE in response to our QA reports are documented in form 66 for 06-313.

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