The Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford site in Washington State is one of the most contaminated nuclear waste sites in North America. The Columbia River flows through about 50 miles of the site. Radioactive and hazardous contamination from decades of producing nuclear materials for the nation's defense have migrated through the soil into the groundwater, which generally flows toward the river. In November 2005, GAO reported on the potential for the Hanford site to contaminate the Columbia River. To address continuing concerns, GAO reviewed the status of DOE's efforts to (1) understand the risk to the Columbia River from Hanford site contamination and to deploy effective technologies to address contamination near the river and (2) strengthen the management of its river protection program. To assess DOE's efforts, GAO reviewed numerous reports by DOE and others, and discussed the problem with federal and state regulators and DOE officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Energy||To increase the likelihood that DOE will effectively implement and sustain improvements in its program to protect the Columbia River from contamination at the Hanford site, the Secretary of Energy should strengthen the management improvement plan by establishing results-oriented performance measures and regular evaluations to gauge the program's effectiveness.|