ABSTRACT

Nuclear Waste Cleanup: DOE's Efforts to Manage Depleted Uranium Would Benefit from Clearer Legal Authorities, Report to Congressional Committees   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the Highlights: "EM [Office of Environmental Management] is responsible for cleaning up the nuclear waste left behind at two former federal uranium enrichment sites (Portsmouth, in Ohio, and Paducah, in Kentucky). One of the cleanup-related activities is the conversion of DUF6 [depleted uranium hexafluoride]--a highly corrosive by-product of the uranium enrichment process that can be dangerous to human health and the environment--into depleted uranium oxide. This is a more stable chemical form of depleted uranium that can be disposed of or reused. The conversion facilities began operating at Portsmouth in 2010 and Paducah in 2011, but both facilities stopped conversion operations in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic. Senate Report 117-39 accompanying S. 2792, a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, included a provision for GAO [Government Accountability Office] to review the two conversion facilities. This report examines (1) EM's response to the facilities' COVID-19 shutdown and effects on the facilities' cost and schedule estimates, (2) EM's agreements to provide DUF6 to other entities, and (3) EM's plans for depleted uranium oxide and hydrofluoric acid. GAO reviewed project documentation, transfer and sales agreements, and legislation; and interviewed EM and National Nuclear Security Administration officials, state regulators, and representatives for the disposal facilities. [...] Congress should consider clarifying DOE's [Department of Energy's] authority to sell depleted uranium, as well as any conditions connected to such sales. DOE did not comment on this report."

Report Number:
GAO-22-105471
Publisher:
Date:
2022-07
Copyright:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
Format:
pdf
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
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