Securing U.S. Nuclear Materials: Poor Planning Has Complicated DOE's Plutonium Consolidation Efforts

GAO-06-164T Published: Oct 07, 2005. Publicly Released: Oct 07, 2005.
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Plutonium is very hazardous to human health and the environment and requires extensive security because of its potential use in a nuclear weapon. The Department of Energy (DOE) stores about 50 metric tons of plutonium that is no longer needed by the United States for nuclear weapons. Some of this plutonium is in the form of contaminated metal, oxides, solutions, and residues remaining from the nuclear weapons production process. To improve security and reduce storage costs, DOE plans to establish enough storage capacity at its Savannah River Site (SRS) in the event it decides to consolidate its plutonium there until it can be permanently disposed of. GAO was asked to examine (1) the extent to which DOE can consolidate this plutonium at SRS and (2) SRS's capacity to monitor plutonium storage containers.

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