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Highlights

The Department of Energy (DOE) is working to obtain a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to construct a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The project, which began in the 1980s, has been beset by delays. In 2004, GAO raised concerns that persistent quality assurance problems could further delay the project. Then, in 2005, DOE announced discovery of employee e-mails suggesting quality assurance problems. Quality assurance, which establishes requirements for work to be performed under controlled conditions that ensure quality, is critical to making sure the project meets standards for protecting public health and the environment. This testimony, which summarizes GAO's March 2006 report (GAO-06-313), provides information on (1) the history of the project's quality assurance problems, (2) DOE's tracking of these problems and efforts to address them since GAO's 2004 report, and (3) challenges facing DOE as it continues to address quality assurance issues within the project.

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