Source: EM Update Newsletter | Vol. 10 Issue 7 | April 13, 2017
Speaking to an audience of more than 100 people, Acting EM Assistant Secretary Sue Cange noted the interconnections between the cleanup program and other DOE organizations. She said her priority is to improve collaborations and strengthen those partnerships.
“First and foremost, it is extremely important to recognize the important and enduring missions the Department has in the areas of national security, science and nuclear energy,” she said. “It is also very important to recognize the role the Office of Environmental Management plays in ensuring and enabling those important Departmental missions.”
The four panelists described a DOE ecosystem in which EM intersects with a variety of missions, providing valuable site cleanup, technical expertise on waste management, pathways for waste storage and disposal, and decontamination and demolition of aging excess facilities.
James McConnell, Associate Administrator for Safety, Infrastructure and Operations at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), said the agency has broad interactions with EM.
“Our mission, by its very nature, generates some amount of radioactive and mixed waste, and if we can’t safely stage, store, transport and ultimately dispose of that waste, then at some point we would have to stop generating it, which means at some point we would have to fundamentally stop our mission,” McConnell said.
“It’s critical that we have those outlets,” added Johnny Moore, Manager of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Site Office in the Office of Science. “Those are critical to our mission because if we are going to continue to learn and make discoveries in doing nuclear research we have to have the ability to have outlets for those materials.
“EM is needed to perform cleanup work of their facilities and of all the facilities that we have in our program operations,” Moore said.
Rick Provencher, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Idaho Site Operations in the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE), said EM and NE have enjoyed a productive partnership at the site for more than a decade.
“It’s really been a team sport in Idaho for many years,” Provencher said. In 2005, EM and NE decided to split the contract for the Idaho site, allowing the NE-affiliated Idaho National Laboratory to focus on science while cleanup contractors overseen by EM focused on remediation.
“EM, they are the experts,” Provencher said. “They have the treatment systems and the know-how to do that kind of work, and by them doing that, it allows the laboratory to focus on important research and development work that we’re responsible for.”
A challenge common to each of the programs is the management and disposition of excess facilities. A DOE report to Congress in December counted 2,349 such facilities across the Department complex. An additional 1,000 may be designated excess in the next 10 years.
Cange previously managed EM operations at Oak Ridge, where NNSA, the Office of Science and NE each have a significant presence. She used that site’s collaborative approach to compiling one set of data on excess facilities across programs as an example of agency partnership.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, the caucus chairman, said he was encouraged by the interactions among the DOE missions.
“It is our duty to the American people to get these sites cleaned up,” he said. “My commitment is steadfast to see that we get these legacy sites cleaned up.”