476892 Overview of U.S. DOE Environmental and Waste Cleanup Programs

Monday, November 14, 2016: 8:30 AM
Sutter (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Ken Picha, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC

The Department of Energy has a liability for the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy brought about from decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research. The Department’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) is responsible for this cleanup function and over the 25-plus years of its existence have safely cleaned up 91 sites, leaving 16 sites, with these remaining 16 sites posing the greatest technical and programmatic challenges. Four of the remaining 16 sites are tank waste sites where wastes resulting from reprocessing of spent fuel are stored in over 200 large underground tanks, containing approximately 100 gallons of highly radioactive and chemically toxic wastes. EM has a nominal $6 Billion annual budget with approximately 35% of the budget targeted to safe management, treatment and disposition of tank waste as well as closure of the tanks

The four sites include the Savannah River Site, Hanford, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP). Progress in waste retrieval, treatment and disposition vary among the sites, with the treatment mission essentially complete at WVDP and not yet substantially started at INL and Hanford. To accomplish this tank waste cleanup mission, EM and its field sites utilize approximately 5,000 contractors employed by various corporations, usually in the form of limited liability partnerships. In addition, EM and its contractors rely on specific technical expertise from national laboratories, outside technical experts, and universities to provide assistance. This is particularly true in the technology development area, in which partnerships with other agencies, e.g., NASA for robotics, and university partnerships are being utilized. This talk will address these aspects that are enablers to achieving the EM tank waste mission.

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