Issue Date: May 10, 2004
GAO faults quality of DOE Yucca Mountain technical data
The Department of Energy's process to develop and assess the quality of technical data needed to obtain a license for the Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste repository in Nevada came under fire last week in a General Accounting Office report. The report (GAO-04-460) is similar to one released a few weeks earlier by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which raised similar questions about the quality of DOE data, its models, and other material needed to obtain an NRC license to build and operate the underground waste repository. The criticisms are long-standing, and, in 2002, at the urging of GAO and others, DOE developed a corrective action plan to address shortcomings in information used to gauge the performance and safety of the repository. However, in the recent report GAO finds that some data sets cannot be traced back to their sources, model development and validation procedures have not been followed, and some processes for software development and validation are inadequate. The report also criticizes DOE for creating a work environment where employees fear reprisal for raising concerns. DOE disagrees with this assessment and says the report mischaracterizes its work. DOE aims to submit a completed permit application on Yucca Mountain to NRC by year's end.
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