OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – On January 9, officials from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) signed an agreement for a $150,000 Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP). The agreement selected a project that will construct artificial wetlands to improve the area’s wildlife habitat and educate local middle school, high school, and undergraduate students.
A SEP is a project that promotes environmental protection and public health, but would not occur without a settlement. DOE was provided the opportunity to utilize a SEP in lieu of a $75,000 stipulated penalty owed to TDEC for missed milestones in 2010 related to a treatability study workplan and groundwater treatability study. Together, DOE and TDEC collaborated to find an alternative that would serve a greater benefit to the community.
“I’m pleased that we have been able to agree to an arrangement that is acceptable to DOE and the State, while also advancing local environmental improvements,” said Sue Cange, DOE’s assistant manager for Environmental Management. “In addition, this plan helps train the next generation of environmental scientists, something we should all support.”
The agreement designates 11 wetland projects in Anderson County and includes funds for educational outreach. Most projects will involve creating small fish-free ponds that are crucial for organisms with complex life cycles, such as amphibians. The planned projects will increase healthy wetland habitats, encourage student researchers, and improve land management decisions.
The Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization (CRESO) will perform the wetlands project with heavy involvement from its primary partners—Anderson Country Schools, Oak Ridge Schools, and the University of Tennessee Forest Resources Research and Education Center.