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Nuclear Waste Cleanup:DOE Needs to Better Coordinate and Prioritize Its Research and Development Efforts

Nuclear Waste Cleanup:DOE Needs to Better Coordinate and Prioritize Its Research and Development Efforts

GAO-22-104490 Oct 28, 2021.   Research and development has been essential in the Department of Energy’s efforts to clean up significant contamination from decades of nuclear weapons production, but over time DOE has reduced funding designated for cleanup R&D.

We could not determine how much DOE actually spends on cleanup R&D because the agency does not track such spending (or the associated research), nor evaluate the outcomes of the research.

In addition, because DOE does not have a comprehensive approach to prioritizing cleanup R&D, individual cleanup sites have had to develop their own approaches, which may not address the needs of all cleanup sites or long-term needs.

Highlights

What GAO Found……

Why GAO Did This Study

R&D has played an essential role in EM’s efforts to clean up massive amounts of contamination from decades of nuclear weapons production and energy research. Such R&D has led to safer, more efficient, and more effective cleanup approaches. Prior studies have found that investments in R&D could reduce the future costs of EM’s cleanup efforts, which have increased by nearly $250 billion in the last 10 years. However, funding designated for nuclear cleanup R&D has declined since 2000……….

Recommendations

GAO is making four recommendations, including that DOE (1) develop a system to collect R&D information across the complex to enable monitoring and evaluation of outcomes and (2) develop a comprehensive approach to prioritizing R&D across the EM complex that follows a risk-informed decision-making framework. DOE concurred with the recommendations made in this report.

Recommendations for Executive Action………..https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-22-104490

October 30, 2021 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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