Nuclear Waste Disposal: Actions Needed to Enable DOE Decision That Could Save Tens of Billions of Dollars, Report to Congressional Addressees   [open pdf - 7MB]

From the Highlights "DOE [Department of Energy] oversees the treatment and disposal of 54 million gallons of nuclear and hazardous waste at the Hanford site in Washington State. Hanford's tank waste is currently managed as HLW [high-level waste]; however, more than 90 percent of the waste's volume has low levels of radioactivity. DOE plans to vitrify a portion of Hanford's LAW [low-activity waste], but it has not made a decision on how to treat and dispose of the roughly 40 percent referred to as supplemental LAW. In May 2017, GAO [Government Accountability Office] found that grouting supplemental LAW could save tens of billions of dollars and reduce certain risks compared to vitrification. However, little is known about disposal options for grouted LAW. GAO examined (1) what potential disposal options exist for grouted supplemental LAW, (2) what is known about the costs and environmental risks of potential disposal facilities and the extent to which DOE has assessed them, and (3) the challenges DOE faces in selecting a disposal method. GAO reviewed technical reports on DOE's waste disposal strategies at Hanford, compared DOE's approach to best practices, and interviewed DOE officials and disposal facility representatives."

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