The Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford Site in Washington State stores 56 million gallons of untreated radioactive and hazardous wastes resulting from decades of nuclear weapons production. DOE is constructing facilities at the site to treat these wastes before permanent disposal. As part of meeting health, safety, and other standards, work at the site has sometimes been suspended to address safety or construction quality issues. This report discusses (1) work stoppages from January 2000 through December 2008 and what is known about them, (2) the types of costs associated with work stoppages and who paid for them, and (3) whether more effective regulation or oversight could have prevented the work stoppages. GAO interviewed knowledgeable DOE and contractor officials about these events. When documentation was available, GAO obtained DOE and contractor accident and safety incident reports, internal DOE and independent external evaluations, and costs.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Energy||To provide a more thorough and consistent understanding of the potential effect of work stoppages on project costs, the Secretary of Energy should establish criteria for when DOE should direct contractors to track and report to DOE the reasons for and costs associated with work stoppages, ensuring that these criteria fully recognize the importance of worker and nuclear safety.|
|Department of Energy||To provide a more thorough and consistent understanding of the potential effect of work stoppages on project costs, the Secretary of Energy should specify the types of costs to be tracked.|