May 16, 2022 – On May 4, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an eye‐opening report quoting over $310 billion as the total cost of completing cleanup at the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) major sites. Of this total, $180.5 billion is expected for cleanup completion at the Hanford Site alone. The report reminds us of the challenges ahead and how much work still needs to be completed at the sites in the near term and long‐term.
The report only covers known cleanup issues and does not address or identify areas/sites that EM is still characterizing, nor does it address the unknown of waste disposal. There is currently no plan for a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain or for interim storage of Defense high‐level waste in EM’s estimates. Many of the largest sites cannot be cleaned up without a disposition pathway for high‐level waste, indicating that the total cleanup figure and the estimated time frames will likely be even higher. The report also highlights that the current completion schedule for all EM work will last until 2081 – nearly 60 years from now – assuming that the funding is available. Link to ECA Update