Source: DOE EM | Release | March 9, 2021
EM is poised to build on recent achievements and launch a new era of progress, Acting Assistant Secretary William “Ike” White said Monday at the Waste Management Symposia 2021.
Speaking at the event held virtually this year, White said EM delivered on key priorities during 2020 while adhering to precautions and worker safety protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. EM now is taking the next step.
“Today, EM is at the start of a new era, with a new Administration, and a new set of ambitious priorities for the year. And, hopefully, the start of a post-pandemic world,” he said.
White was a plenary speaker at the symposia, one of the nation’s leading gatherings of government, international, and industry experts on waste management. Other EM speakers are participating in sessions throughout the weeklong conference.
White said EM will build on the transformational progress achieved in 2020 in tank waste capabilities, successful demolitions that resulted in skyline changes, a shrinking cleanup footprint, and the award of contracts that accelerate safe progress.
In the key field of tank waste treatment — one of EM’s biggest challenges — White said the Salt Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site now is operational and is expected to process 6 million gallons of waste this year.
Further, the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at the Idaho National Laboratory Site is expected to start up in 2021. The Hanford Site will complete construction of the Tank Side Cesium Removal system, a pretreatment system critical to the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach to treating tank waste.
Among other priorities, White said a number of sites will enter new phases in addressing contaminated excess facilities. Oak Ridge is focusing on building demolition at the Y-12 National Security Complex and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory after successfully taking down the entire uranium enrichment complex at the East Tennessee Technology Park.
Other notable demolition goals for 2021 include the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York beginning to pull down its last major facility, and the completion of demolition of DOE-owned buildings at the Energy Technology Engineering Center in Ventura County, California.
Most importantly, White said, EM will continue to shrink its footprint by continuing to make land and resources available this year to communities near EM sites.
White said new DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm understands the importance of the EM mission and DOE’s responsibility to deliver on commitments.
“She and the new DOE team know the vital role the communities near our sites played in U.S. history,” he said. “They also know how important the EM mission is to help those communities have a strong future.
“The cleanup progress we make doesn’t just support national security, energy, and research missions,” he said. “It also helps us to create opportunities for economic development, conservation, and recreation for the communities EM sites call home.”
White applauded the performance of the EM workforce and others who supported the program during the pandemic over the past year.
“I have been extremely proud of the way the entire cleanup program and all of the companies that support the program have coordinated and worked together to ensure the safety and health of our workforce,” White said. “In the nuclear industry, we have always been clear that the safety of the public and the workforce is our top priority. And in the current circumstances, all of you have worked to demonstrate that this truly is a core value for the cleanup program.
“Our ability to move forward on the public safety mission in the past year has been due, in large part, to the effectiveness of the actions we’ve taken to ensure the safety of the workforce, and we don’t want to lose sight of that as we get closer to an end point on this pandemic,” he said