Watchdog: Accountability

Nuclear waste treatment facility lags behind on necessary improvements

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Watchdog,Watchdog Blog,New Mexico,Kelly Cohen,Inspectors General,Accountability,Energy and Environment,Nuclear Waste

A project to replace a failing radioactive waste treatment facility is failing as well, according to a report from the Department of Energy's inspector general.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has been storing, treating and disposing of radioactive waste since 1963, but its facility for doing so is aging and degrading.

Since 2004, the National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos have spent $56 million to replace the facility, but poor management has pushed the completion dates for the two projects back to 2017 and 2020, 11 years behind schedule, according to the IG.

Delaying the completion dates back have increased the total estimated cost 149 percent — from $86 million to $214 million, the IG found.

The IG's office also discovered the NNSA and Los Alamos haven't produced any cost estimates for the projects, used a risk management plan or taken the right steps to make sure the updated facility designs are optimal.

The NNSA and Los Alamos have made management improvements, the report said, but the agencies must be more effective in saving funds and finishing the more of a serious effort to save money and finish the project sooner.

View the full report here.

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