ECA National Cleanup Workshop 2021 Review

Source: Energy Communities Alliance Newsletter | December 13, 2021

On December 7-9, the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), with the cooperation of the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) and the Energy Facility Contractors Group (EFCOG), hosted the sixth annual National Cleanup Workshop. The Workshop was made possible thanks to 28 sponsors, and the conference had over 650 registrants.

Workshop attendees heard from DOE leadership on a variety of subjects, including opening remarks from Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, a keynote address by Deputy Secretary David Turk, and a discussion on the new era in EM cleanup by EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White.

In his remarks, White highlighted community success stories across the former weapons complex and the importance of partnering with local communities

“We are very fortunate at EM to be surrounded by diverse communities who are strong partners in the cleanup mission,” White said.

Workshop participants also had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Kathryn Huff, Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy. She discussed her top three priorities for the Office: to keep existing plants open, deploy new reactors, and responsibly manage used fuel.

In a virtual session, Secretarial Advisor on Equity and Deputy Director for Energy Justice Shalanda Baker also gave insightful remarks on the path forward for energy and environmental justice.

ECA believes there is a critical link between environmental justice issues and the disposal of high-level waste; frontline communities that have become the de facto storage sites for this waste deserve to be recognized under the Administration’s environmental justice directive, and the waste should be addressed accordingly.

Day two of the conference began with notes from Representative Chuck Fleischmann, who represents the third district of Tennessee – home to the Oak Ridge site – on legislative challenges and opportunities for the EM program.

In a roundtable on the future of disposal, ECA Director of Nuclear Policy Kara Colton highlighted the benefits to both local communities and EM when cleanup projects engage communities early and often.

“Early and meaningful community engagement builds trust. We succeed when you succeed,” she said.

Mayor Rebecca Casper, ECA Vice-Chair, shared insight on the future of the EM workforce, a critical area of shared interest across the complex, in a session on the subject.

Conference attendees also heard from Senior Advisor to the Energy Secretary Kate Gordon on place-based initiatives at DOE, which mark a “historic shift toward much more engagement” in the future.

Other sessions during the Workshop included panels on the next phase of EM success, EM acquisition plans and schedule, and the future of Hanford’s tank waste. Roundtables were held on lessons learned and improving project performance, DOE priority issues, and site opportunities and challenges with DOE field office managers.

ECA looks forward to continuing the important conversations held at the Workshop and to introducing new topics at the National Cleanup Workshop 2022.