U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

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U.S. Government Accountability Office.
GAO-19-28, 48 pp, 29 Jan 2019

According to DOE's FY 2018 financial statement, the DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM) faces an environmental liability of $377B. This amount largely reflects estimates of future costs to clean up legacy radioactive tank waste and contaminated facilities and soil. From FYs 2011-2018, EM's environmental liability grew by about $214B, outpacing its cleanup spending of about $45B for that time period. For example, EM's environmental liability increased by nearly $130B from FY 2014-2018 at the Hanford Site in Washington State, in part because of contract and project management problems with waste cleanup. GAO found that EM's liability likely will continue to grow, in part because the costs of some future work are not yet included in the estimated liability, such as over $2.3B in costs associated with 45 contaminated facilities potentially transferable to EM from other DOE programs. EM relies primarily on individual sites to negotiate cleanup activities locally and establish priorities. For example, two EM sites had plans to treat similar radioactive tank waste differently, with costs at one site possibly tens of billions more than those at the other site. EM sites generally do not consider other sites' risks and priorities when making cleanup decisions. Without a strategy that sets national priorities and describes how DOE will address its greatest risks, EM lacks assurance that it is making the most cost-effective cleanup decisions across its sites. https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-28

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