2004 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 12 Jan 2004 15:11:14 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: GAO Report on Cleanup at Paducah Uranium Enrichment Plant
The following is an excerpt from the GAO report "Preliminary
Observations on DOE's Cleanup of the Paducah Uranium Enrichment Plant".
The full report can be viewed as a pdf at:
Nuclear Waste Cleanup: Preliminary Observations on DOE's Cleanup of the
Paducah Uranium Enrichment Plant
December 6, 2003

In 1988, radioactive contamination was found in the drinking water wells
of residences located near the federal government's uranium enrichment
plant in Paducah, Kentucky, which is still in operation. In response,
the Department of Energy (DOE) began a cleanup program to identify and
remove contamination in the groundwater, surface water, and soil located
within and outside the plant. In 2000, GAO reported that DOE faced
significant challenges in cleaning up the site and that it was doubtful
that the cleanup would be completed as scheduled by 2010, and within the
$1.3 billion cost projection. GAO was asked to testify on (1) how much
DOE has spent on the Paducah cleanup and for what purposes, and the
estimated total future costs for the site; (2) the status of DOE's
cleanup effort; and (3) the challenges DOE faces in completing the
cleanup. This testimony is based on ongoing work, and GAO expects to
issue a final report on this work in April 2004.

Since 1988, DOE has spent $823 million, adjusted to fiscal year 2002
constant dollars, on the Paducah cleanup program. Of this total, DOE
spent $372 million (45 percent) for a host of operations activities,
including general maintenance and security; $298 million (36 percent)
for actions to clean up contamination and waste; and almost $153 million
(19 percent) for studies to assess the extent of contamination and
determine what cleanup actions were needed. DOE currently projects that
the cleanup will take until 2019 and cost $2 billion to complete--nine
years and $700 million more than its earlier projection. The $2 billion,
however, does not include the cost of other DOE activities required to
close the site after the uranium enrichment plant ceases operations,
including final decontamination and decommissioning of the plant and
long-term environmental monitoring. DOE estimates these activities will
bring the total cost to over $13 billion through 2070. DOE has made some
progress in cleaning up contamination and waste at Paducah, but the
majority of the work remains to be done. For example, while DOE has
removed over 4,500 tons of scrap metal, over 50,000 tons of contaminated
scrap metal remain. Similarly, while DOE's pilot test of a new
technology for removing the hazardous chemical trichloroethylene (TCE)
from groundwater at the site had promising results, the technology will
not be fully implemented for over a year. DOE's key challenge in
completing the Paducah cleanup is achieving stakeholder agreement on the
cleanup approach. For example, differences between DOE and the
regulatory entities--the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency--over the cleanup scope and time frames
resulted in an almost 2-year dispute, from June 2001 to April 2003, that
disrupted progress. All three parties are working to develop an
accelerated cleanup plan, but continued cooperation will be required in
order to advance the cleanup.

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