TITLE

Department of Energy: Clear Strategy on External Regulation Needed for Worker and Nuclear Facility Safety: RCED-98-163

PUB. DATE
May 1998
SOURCE
GAO Reports;5/21/1998, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Government Document
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
With few exceptions, independent contractors do not inspect or license the Energy Department's (DOE) vast complex of research and nuclear facilities. Instead, DOE relies on its own staff to ensure the safety of these facilities. GAO has long criticized DOE for weaknesses in self-regulation. DOE's position on the external regulation of safety is unclear. Five years ago, DOE's leadership made a commitment to the external regulation of worker safety. DOE announced that it would phase out self regulation over a 10-year period, starting with legislation by 1998 to authorize external regulation. In late 1997, however, DOE launched a two-year pilot program to simulate regulation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at six to 10 of DOE's nuclear sites. At the end of this pilot, DOE and NRC will jointly decide if external regulation is warranted. DOE's decision to conduct pilots represents a shift from its earlier strong endorsement of external regulation of all its facilities. DOE's uncertain position has both NRC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration concerned about the agency's commitment to external regulation. Although DOE's pilot will provide useful insights, the information collected will not reflect the size and complexity of DOE's vast nuclear complex and thus will not yield the data needed to address many critical issues on external regulation. GAO summarized this report in testimony before Congress; see: Department of Energy: Clear Strategy on External Regulation Needed for Worker and Nuclear Facility Safety, by Victor S. Rezendes, Director of Energy, Resources, and Science Issues, before the Subcommittee on Basic Research and the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, House Committee on Science. GAO/T-RCED-98-205, May 21 (eight pages).
ACCESSION #
18223646

 

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