The Department of Energy’s diverse mission is directly related to helping resolve many of the energy, environmental, and nuclear security challenges that face the Nation. As a consequence, the Department’s operations involve dangerous substances such as nuclear and hazardous materials.
OIG’s review disclosed significant weaknesses in the Department’s emergency preparedness and Continuity of Operations (COOP) programs.
For instance, at the four sites included in OIG’s review, we found that:
Sites had not completed all required emergency planning. Notably, our review of 2009 emergency readiness reports disclosed that programs and sites had not finally approved 105 of the 140 Hazards Surveys and 39 of the 74 Emergency Planning Hazards Assessments (EPHA) that were required – actions necessary to accurately assess and respond to hazards;
At three of the four sites we visited, we found that officials were not always adequately resolving emergency management issues. Some of these issues included the inability to communicate via established emergency networks, the lack of hazard identification planning, and inaccurate hazardous chemical tracking systems. These problems were identified over a multi-year period through drills, exercises, and assessments; and,
Sites did not always share lessons learned and track performance metrics, as required, to augment corrective action processes. Officials also routinely failed to take advantage of the Department’s Corporate Lessons Learned system when developing or modifying existing action plans. Furthermore, none of the field sites had adopted and implemented performance measures that covered the four key emergency management activities.
Weaknesses continued to exist because program emergency management coordinators and cognizant field elements did not provide sufficient oversight or ensure contractor compliance with existing requirements.