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As of April 1, 2020, there are 4994 open recommendations, of which 380 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.
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Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should develop updated information on the effectiveness of treating and disposing of all the different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites, and based on this information, identify potential treatment and disposal pathways for different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW, considering the risks posed by the LAW. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.
Agency: Department of Energy Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: In 2017, DOE's Office of River Protection contracted with Savannah River National Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center, to evaluate viable treatment options for supplemental low-activity waste (LAW). According to DOE, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is conducting a peer review of that laboratory's evaluation. The laboratory and the National Academies plan to issue a final report in 2019 that includes information DOE may be able to use in making a decision about treating supplemental LAW. In addition, in response to GAO's May 2017 recommendation, DOE said it successfully completed the first phase of a project-called the Test Bed Initiative--in December 2017--to demonstrate the feasibility of grouting, transporting, and disposing of 3 gallons of Hanford's LAW at an alternate disposal site in Andrews, Texas. As of November 2018, DOE was beginning a second phase to demonstrate the feasibility of grouting, transporting, and disposing of 2,000 gallons of Hanford's LAW at the same site in Texas. DOE plans to complete this phase in late fiscal year 2019 and could provide an alternate option for treatment and disposal of Hanford's supplemental LAW. Moreover, DOE noted that the project has the potential to accelerate waste treatment and save significant costs. Until DOE develops information that reflects what is now known about the performance of alternate treatment and disposal methods, such as immobilizing tank waste in grout, congressional and agency decision makers will not have access to current scientific information as they decide how to best allocate limited financial resources among many competing needs. Moreover, having updated information on the effectiveness of alternate methods for treating supplemental LAW will help to inform DOE's discussions with the state of Washington.