Report: Nuke dump shutdown lacks master plan
LAS VEGAS (AP) – The U.S. Department of Energy is moving quickly with no master plan to shut down a project that would have buried the nation’s nuclear waste in Nevada, the department’s inspector general said in a report made public Friday.
Department officials have used focus groups and set a Sept. 30 deadline to end the 28-year-long Yucca Mountain project, according to a memorandum dated Wednesday from DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman.
Friedman’s findings were reported Friday by Stephens Media’s Washington bureau and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
His report compares closing the $10.5 billion Yucca Mountain project 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas to decommissioning the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas after Congress killed it in 1993.
“We know of no other comparable single project termination in the department’s recent history as consequential as Yucca Mountain,” said the report, titled, “Need for Enhanced Surveillance During the Yucca Mountain Project Shut Down.”
“A planning framework would have increased the likelihood of overall success of the effort,” the report says. It does not specify consequences of not having a master plan.
It promises a separate report on contractor costs, including $100 million claimed by former project management and operating contractor Bechtel SAIC during the last decade, and $75 million in subcontract costs from fiscal years 2004-2009.
An attached letter tallies more than $2 million in equipment, desks, cubicles, printers and supplies moved from offices at the Yucca Mountain site and Las Vegas to the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state.
Other equipment went to the Nevada Test Site, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, and the Tonopah Test Range in rural Nevada, the letter said. Surplus emergency vehicles were transferred to Nevada’s Nye County, home of the Yucca Mountain site.
Many computers are having their data erased so they can be redistributed to other Energy Department programs, but some are being donated to Nevada schools in Clark, Lincoln and Nye counties.
Friedman said in the report that he had planned to monitor the Yucca Mountain shutdown and was told in March the Energy Department was preparing a master plan.
Auditors were told in June that “events were moving so quickly that no further action on the master plan was contemplated.”