Despite unavoidable impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, EM remains on track this year to realize a number of its cleanup priorities, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Shrader told leaders of the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA) during its board meeting held virtually on June 18.
Shrader updated the board members on the cleanup program’s activities during the pandemic and the resumption of operations across EM field sites. ECA is an organization of local governments adjacent to or impacted by DOE activities.
Members of the EM team in the field and at headquarters have been working together to make progress even with the challenges due to COVID-19, Shrader said, adding EM leadership has been pleased with the productivity of employees who have been teleworking. Most of the EM complex transitioned to an essential, mission-critical posture during the pandemic, and cleanup sites have since begun to ramp back up to full operations in a phased, deliberate approach.
Shrader said most EM sites are in the first phase of reopening operations. The decision to resume operations is based on many factors, such as health data, remaining state and local restrictions, and facility preparedness, he said.
EM is carefully evaluating projects as sites ramp back up to full operations. Potential impacts from the pandemic “will be different from site to site as we move forward,” Shrader said.
He said EM remains on track to complete a number of its stated priorities for 2020. For instance, there is confidence the Salt Waste Processing Facility will start up this year. Similarly, EM is hopeful for completion of demolition at the East Tennessee Technology Park at Oak Ridge, he said.
Shrader said EM appreciates its interactions with local communities that have stakes in its progress.
“We have shared goals and shared interests in the sites being successful and cleanups being successful,” Shrader said. “We always appreciate the support that comes from the communities and we want to continue to build on that and move forward the best we can.”