WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – Employees at EM’s West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) Site routinely communicate their efforts to be good stewards of the environment to a variety of people, from stakeholders in the surrounding community to the site’s cleanup crews.
These robust, easy-to-understand communications — highlighted on WVDP’s website and social media, and in employee messages, newsletters, and meetings — have drawn positive feedback.
An auditor on behalf of the International Organization for Standardization commended WVDP for its effective communication plan focused on keeping internal and external stakeholders informed of environmental work and cleanup progress.
The site’s best practices in environmental communications also caught the eye of Una Song, a senior advisor in DOE’s Office of Sustainable Environmental Stewardship in Washington, D.C. At the time, Song had been looking to update training procedures for environmental management systems, which are used at DOE facilities to achieve environmental compliance and sustainability objectives.
“I was impressed by the quality and quantity of the communications West Valley does in support of their environmental management system,” Song said. “They are able to do so much because communication is a shared priority for everyone on the team. They are doing a great job.”
Song worked with WVDP to create an environmental information brief, a first-of-a-kind case study that was shared with sites across the DOE complex. Song plans to issue more briefs from other DOE sites in the future.
Among WVDP’s best practices, new employees are trained in the site’s environmental policy. Employees work with the site’s communication manager to pursue new ways to communicate information about projects with stakeholders. A quick reference guide is distributed to all employees with key information on safety, policy adherence, and environmental compliance. And staff members at all levels help improve the environmental management system, which in turn advances the site’s environmental practices.
“The strength of WVDP’s environmental management system is that teams having different roles and responsibilities within the organization work well together and share information effectively,” EM WVDP Regulatory Strategies Support Service Consultant Joseph Forti said. “Continual improvement requires a commitment at all levels, from top leadership to operators to staff. This commitment is demonstrated at the WVDP.”