States Make Progress On Radioactive Waste Cleanup Efforts

WASHINGTON—Governors play a crucial role in cleaning up the radioactive waste generated from America’s nuclear weapons production, an endeavor that amounts to more than $340 billion and could stretch well into 2070, according to a report released today by the National Governors Association (NGA).

Cleaning Up America’s Nuclear Weapons Complex: 2015 Update for Governors outlines how, over the last several decades, states have worked closely with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to achieve many cleanup successes. That includes efforts to develop treatment plans for all nuclear waste sites, close three large sites and more than 90 smaller sites, create a waste inventory and accelerate cleanup efforts nationwide under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But challenges for such a massive effort remain, including:

  • Setting priorities for federal funding to meet agreed-upon, enforceable cleanup milestones;
  • Ensuring that sites comply with federal and state cleanup standards; and
  • Managing radioactive waste safely, including transportation, disposal and long-term stewardship.

Since 1993, the NGA Center for Best Practices has supported states through the Federal Facilities Task Force, which brings together governor-designated representatives with DOE officials to examine critical technical, policy and budget issues, as well as improve coordination of major program decisions related to the cleanup of the nuclear weapons complex.

To learn more about the NGA Center for Best Practices Environment, Energy & Transportation Division, please visit