Nuclear Regulation

The Military Would Benefit From a Comprehensive Waste Disposal Program Gao ID: RCED-90-96 March 23, 1990

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO compared the Army's, Navy's, and Air Force's low-level radioactive waste disposal practices.

GAO found that: (1) the Department of Defense (DOD) lacked a comprehensive waste disposal program; (2) none of the three services had complete information on the amounts or types of low-level radioactive waste generated or disposed of; (3) the Navy lacked a low-level radioactive waste disposal program, while the Air Force participated in the Army's disposal program; (4) the services' stockpiling of waste, pending long-term disposal at three commercial sites, increased the potential for accidental releases of waste similar to that which occurred at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in 1986; (5) commercial sites have periodically banned the Army and the Air Force for failure to comply with federal and state waste packaging and shipping requirements; (6) compliance problems could worsen after 1993, when there could be as many as 16 different interstate compact and state disposal requirements; (7) significant differences existed among and within the services regarding waste disposal management expertise and training, volume-reduction techniques, and use of cost-effective methods; (8) commercial sites' surcharges and penalties resulted in DOD paying almost twice the actual cost of waste disposal; and (9) two of the three commercial sites will close by December 1992, increasing the likelihood that DOD will store waste or seek exemptions to dispose of waste outside each generator's region if no other sites become available.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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