Expert Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for removing or remediating radioactive waste and other contamination from its former nuclear weapons production sites. The job is expected to cost between about $265 billion and $305 billion over the next 30 years. DOE has stated that the work, which is being conducted by its Office of Environmental Management, is one of the most technically challenging and complex cleanup efforts in the world. The Office of Environmental Management asked the National Academies to convene a committee to assist in preparing a congressionally requested engineering and technology roadmap to support the cleanup effort. The committee's report identifies 13 technology gaps in areas of tank waste retrieval and processing, groundwater and soil remediation, and facility deactivation and decommissioning. Medium- to longer-term research and development (R&D) to bridge these gaps, as described in this report, can enhance the ability to meet cleanup milestones on time and/or on budget. The report recommends that the Office of Environmental Management: (1) improve its roadmap so that it clearly details the role of R&D in the cleanup mission, (2) use the roadmap as a primary tool for engaging in R&D partnerships with other DOE offices and federal agencies, the national laboratories, universities, and the private sector; and for communicating its R&D needs and accomplishments to DOE management and to Congress.