Securing U.S. Nuclear Materials: DOE Needs to Take Action to Safely Consolidate Plutonium, Report to Congressional Committees   [open pdf - 2MB]

"Plutonium is very hazardous to human health and the environment and requires extensive security because of its potential use in a nuclear weapon. The Department of Energy (DOE) stores about 50 metric tons of plutonium that is no longer needed by the United States for nuclear weapons. Some of this plutonium is contaminated metal, oxides, solutions, and residues remaining from the nuclear weapons production process. To improve security and reduce plutonium storage costs, DOE plans to establish enough storage capacity at its Savannah River Site (SRS) in the event it decides to consolidate its plutonium at SRS until it can be permanently disposed of in a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. GAO was asked to examine (1) the extent to which DOE can consolidate this plutonium at SRS and (2) SRSs capacity to monitor plutonium storage containers. GAO recommends that DOE (1) develop a comprehensive strategy to consolidate, store, and eventually dispose of its plutonium and (2) ensure that its facilities cleanup plans are consistent with its plutonium consolidation plans. In commenting on the report, DOE generally agreed with our recommendations."

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Government Accountability Office (GAO): http://www.gao.gov/
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