July 20, 2012

Y-12 National Security Complex's Waste Diversion Efforts

The Y 12 National Security Complex (Y-12) Pollution Prevention Program (Program) plays a vital role in the Department of Energy's (Department) overall waste diversion efforts.  During Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, Y-12 generated over 16,000 metric tons of non-hazardous solid waste, including debris from construction and demolition projects.  In short, we found that Y-12 had an established Program to divert materials from the landfill and contributed to the Department's overall waste diversion efforts through recycling and reusing of materials.  Specifically, FY 2011 reports prepared by Y-12 management revealed that Y-12 had met the targets of Executive Order 13514 by diverting 58 percent of its construction and demolition debris and 50 percent of its non-hazardous solid waste from the landfill.  While the Program had significant accomplishments, we found that Y-12 was facing challenges that may limit Program expansion.  In particular, Program officials told us that several complex-wide activities and initiatives remain on hold due to budget reductions.  In addition, we found that Y-12's scrap metal recycling had been impacted by the Department's July 2000 suspension on the release of scrap metal from posted radiological areas.  In FY 2011, for example, Y-12 had disposed of rather than recycled over 1,800 metric tons of policy-encumbered scrap metal, according to Program officials.  The Department has recognized that disposal of scrap metal as waste is contradictory to Departmental waste minimization and pollution prevention efforts, and is currently working to address the matter.  Therefore, no formal recommendations were made.

Topic: Environmental Cleanup