Nuclear Safety: Department of Energy Needs to Strengthen Its Independent Oversight of Nuclear Facilities and Operations   [open pdf - 2MB]

"The Department of Energy (DOE) oversees contractors that operate more than 200 'high-hazard' nuclear facilities, where an accident could have serious consequences for workers and the public. DOE is charged with regulating the safety of these facilities. A key part of DOE's self-regulation is the Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS), which develops, oversees, and helps enforce nuclear safety policies. This is the only DOE safety office intended to be independent of the program offices, which carry out mission responsibilities. This report examines (1) the extent to which HSS meets GAO's elements of effective independent nuclear safety oversight and (2) the factors contributing to any identified shortcomings with respect to these elements. GAO reviewed relevant DOE policies, interviewed officials and outside safety experts, and surveyed DOE sites to determine the number and status of nuclear facilities. GAO also assessed oversight practices against the criteria for independent oversight GAO developed based on a series of reports on DOE nuclear safety and discussions with nuclear safety experts. GAO recommends the Secretary of Energy take actions to address HSS's shortcomings in independent oversight of nuclear safety. DOE disagreed with the report's conclusions, but generally agreed with three of GAO's five recommended actions."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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