U.S. General Accounting Office
Quarterly Report on DOE's Nuclear Waste Program as of June 30, 1986
General Accounting Office
Original Date

The following is from the report:


“Until May 1986 DOE was engaged in a site selection process that had tentatively identified 12 proposed, potentially acceptable areas in 7 states for a second repository. These areas, in the north central and eastern United States, were identified in the draft Area Recommendation Report issued in January 1986. By April 15, 1986, DOE had held 39 briefings and conducted 38 hearings in 15 states to discuss and obtain comments on the draft Area Recommendation Report. More than 18,000 people attended the briefings and more than 3,200 persons and organizations provided about 60,000 comments on the report. The comment period ended on April 16, 1986; however, DOE accepted comments up to the time site-specific work was postponed.

“On May 28, 1986, the Secretary of Energy announced that DOE has postponed indefinitely any site-specific work related to a second qeologic repository. According to the announcement, those 12 areas identified as possible second repository sites are no longer under active consideration, and subsequent program efforts will be limited to technology development rather than site specific activities. OCRWM officials told us that siting activities could be resumed in the mid-1990's if the need for a second repository is demonstrated. They also told us that any resumption of these activities would begin at "square one" with a hew national screening effort.

DOE cited the following reasons for the postponement decision: (1) the continuing progress in siting of the first repository, (2) projections of spent fuel generation are uncertain and have been declining, (3) a decision that spending hundreds of millions of dollars now on siting would be premature and unsound fiscal management, (4) emplacement of a large amount of waste in a second repository is very far into the future, and the Congress need not reconsider specifically a second repository until at least the mid-1990's or much later, and (5) DOE expects congressional authorization to proceed with the development of an MRS facility.

“Prior to the announcement, the major activities during the quarter were the conduct of public briefings and development of a system for processing and controlling comments received on the draft Area Recommendation Report. Post-announcement activities have been geared to implementing the Secretary’s postponement decision.

“The secretary’s announcement provided that further work to finalize the Area Recommendation Report will be discontinued except for cataloging the comment DOE received on the draft. During the quarter, DOE established the comment response tracking system for handling about 60,000 comments received as of June 30, 1986 on the draft report. This computer-based system will be used to identify, code, track, and sort individual comments, an activity expected to be completed in early 1987. DOE does not plan to respond to the comments.

“The redirection of program efforts resulting from the Secretary’s postponement decision is being Implemented by the Crystalline Repository Project Office, Argonne, Illinois. Prior to the decision this Office was responsible for activities related to finding potentially acceptable sites in crystalline rock under the second repository program. Planned activities have been curtailed or scaled back and DOE has begun to restructure the second repository program. The new program will concentrate on research and development of technical issues not related to a specific site. DOE plans to close out all grants to states and tribes potentially affected by a second repository by September 30, 1986, and in June 1986 issued letters to that effect.

“In general states and tribes potentially affected by the second repository stated that they are pleased that DOE has postponed the work; however, some stated that they are uncomfortable because they might he reconsidered as potential sites in the future. Some states and tribes potentially affected by the first repository, on the other hand, stated that they are considerably upset because the work on the second repository has been postponed and expressed concern that the first repository will be the only repository. As of the end of the quarter, Washington State and three private associations had filed suit against the postponement.”

  • Bookwood Historical Collection, Star Lake
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