ABSTRACT

Plutonium Disposition: Proposed Dilute and Dispose Approach Highlights Need for More Work at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Report to the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 6MB]

"The United States has pledged to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus, weapons-grade plutonium. The current U.S. approach relies on disposing of the plutonium by irradiating it as MOX [Mixed-Oxide] fuel--a mixture of plutonium and uranium oxides--in modified commercial nuclear reactors. Due to a significant rise in cost, DOE [Department of Energy] recently proposed terminating the MOX approach in favor of the dilute and dispose approach, which DOE stated may be less expensive. Under this approach, plutonium would be diluted with inert material and then disposed of in a geologic repository. GAO [Government Accountability Office] was asked to review DOE's planning for both the MOX and dilute and dispose approaches. This report examines: (1) the extent to which DOE's revised cost estimates for completing the construction of the MOX facility and for completing the overall Plutonium Disposition Program met best practices, (2) the status of NNSA's [National Nuclear Security Administration] development of a life-cycle cost estimate for the dilute and dispose approach, and (3) the extent to which DOE has sufficient disposal space and statutory capacity at WIPP [Waste Isolation Pilot Plant] to dispose of all defense TRU [transuranic] waste, including waste from the dilute and dispose approach. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed DOE and NNSA officials, including officials from five major waste-generating sites."

Report Number:
GAO-17-390
Publisher:
Date:
2017-09
Copyright:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
Format:
pdf
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
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