2004 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 6 Aug 2004 18:49:08 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: GAO on Uranium Enrichment Cleanup
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Uranium Enrichment: Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund Is
Insufficient to Cover Cleanup Costs  

July 2, 2004


Decontaminating and decommissioning the nation's uranium enrichment
plants, which are contaminated with hazardous materials, will cost
billions of dollars and could span decades. In 1992, the Energy Policy
Act created the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning
Fund (Fund) to pay for the plants' cleanup and to reimburse licensees of
active uranium and thorium processing sites for part of their cleanup
costs. This report discusses (1) what DOE has done to reduce the cleanup
costs authorized by the Fund, and (2) the extent to which the Fund is
sufficient to cover authorized activities.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has taken steps to reduce cleanup costs
by taking actions that address recommendations made by the National
Academy of Sciences and by pursuing an accelerated, risk-based cleanup
strategy at the plants. In some cases, however, DOE has only partially
addressed the Academy's recommendations. For example, one recommendation
suggested that DOE develop three plans--namely, headquarters level,
plant-complex level, and site level--that address and integrate the
decontamination and decommissioning of the facilities. Only one plant
has developed a plan, however. Additionally, DOE is pursuing an
accelerated, risk-based cleanup strategy at the plants that it believes
will reduce cleanup costs. According to DOE officials, an accelerated,
risk-based strategy will accelerate time frames for cleanup, and
establish "realistic cleanup criteria" in DOE's regulatory cleanup
agreements. Despite DOE efforts to reduce costs, we found that based on
current projected costs and revenues, the Fund will be insufficient to
cover the cleanup activities at the three plants. Specifically, our
Baseline model demonstrated that by 2044, the most likely time frame for
completing cleanup of the plants, costs will have exceeded revenues by
$3.5 billion to $5.7 billion (in 2004 dollars). Importantly, we also
found that the Fund would be insufficient irrespective of which model we
used, including models that estimated the final decommissioning at the
plants under (1) accelerated time frames, (2) deferred time frames, or
(3) baseline time frames, and with additional revenues from federal
government contributions as authorized under current law. Because the
Paducah and Portsmouth plants are now estimated to cease operations by
2010 and 2006, respectively, extending the Fund by an additional 3 years
would give DOE an opportunity to develop plans, including more precise
cost estimates, for the cleanup of these plants and to better determine
if further Fund extensions will be necessary.

to download the entire report, go to http://www.gao.gov/docdblite/details.php?rptno=GAO-04-692
and click on the report number


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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