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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) program to develop the atomic vapor laser isotope separation process (AVLIS), a new uranium enrichment technology, focusing on issues that DOE needed to address before building an AVLIS plant. GAO noted that, before building an AVLIS plant, DOE should: (1) adequately demonstrate the AVLIS process with full-scale equipment and develop convincing cost projections; (2) demonstrate an efficient process for integrating an AVLIS plant with existing nuclear fuel companies; (3) submit to the government or a private company a definitive cost analysis; (4) establish a government corporation to complete such program activities as selecting a site and completing the plant licensing process; and (5) update and expand its existing market analysis that considers the impact of possible new nuclear plants and competitors' sales strategies. GAO also noted that: (1) DOE needed to complete the demonstration project to keep future AVLIS deployment options open, such as using a new government corporation for construction or making a technology transfer agreement with a private company; (2) the technical and related cost and market information DOE would develop by completing the demonstration could enhance a new government corporation's ability to timely and efficiently deploy AVLIS and assist private investors in making sound construction decisions; and (3) Congress should recognize that DOE will not be able to completely address all remaining deployment issues by the end of 1992.

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