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Audit Report: OAS-L-12-06

July 20, 2012

Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Waste Diversion Efforts

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Pollution Prevention Program (Program) plays a vital role in the Department of Energy's overall waste diversion efforts.  During Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, ORNL generated over 9,500 metric tons of non-hazardous solid waste, including debris from construction and demolition projects.  In short, we found that ORNL had an established Program that effectively diverted materials from landfills and contributed to the Department's overall waste diversion effort, primarily through recycling and reusing materials.  In our review of ORNL's FY 2011 data, we found that it recycled or reused over 5,100 of its 9,500 metric tons of solid waste, and thus diverted it from landfill disposal.  While ORNL's performance in FY 2011 was notable, we did find several minor inconsistencies between planned activities and actual performance.  For example, we found that ORNL had not conducted pollution prevention opportunity assessments despite the fact that the Program emphasized the importance of such assessments in helping to identify waste diversion opportunities.  As an alternative, officials requested selected divisions to develop, document and implement plans to reduce or eliminate the environmental impacts of its activities.  We noted that this approach resulted in several divisions implementing additional waste diversion activities.  Because of progress in this area, no formal recommendations were made to ORNL. 

Topic: Financial Assistance