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In 2004, the Department of Energy (DOE) disposed of more than 378,000 cubic meters of low-level radioactive waste (LLRW)--contaminated building rubble, soil, and debris. In 2002, DOE directed its sites to use life-cycle cost analysis to manage LLRW.
For about 40 years, the Department of Energy's Rocky Flats site, near Denver, served as a production facility that made plutonium triggers, or "pits," for nuclear weapons. That role resulted in radiological and chemical contamination of many of the site's buildings and its soil and water.
Low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) management concerns persist despite the LLRW Policy Act of 1980, as amended, which made states responsible for providing for disposal of class A, B, and C LLRW and made the Department of Energy (DOE) responsible for the disposal of greater-than-class C LLRW.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is unusual among federal agencies in that it regulates and inspects its own facilities to protect the safety and health of its workers and of the communities surrounding its vast complex of research laboratories.