AIKEN, S.C. – A team from the Savannah River Site (SRS) that completed cleanup of coal ash-contaminated land a year early and at a savings of more than $8 million has been recognized by DOE with the prestigious Project Management Excellence Award.

The project team remediated and closed the D Area coal ash landfill, two coal ash basins, and a coal pile runoff basin. It’s an area consisting of over 90 acres at SRS used to manage ashes from the D-Area Powerhouse, which provided steam and electricity for SRS missions for more than 59 years.

The powerhouse was closed in 2012, and DOE-Savannah River (DOE-SR) and contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) undertook cleanup in 2014.

An award citation signed by Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette noted the project team built a strong relationship with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to negotiate a cleanup schedule.

The award was announced at an EM workforce meeting on July 14.

"Not only did the team come in ahead of schedule and under budget, but they’re also being recognized for the strong relationship they developed with the EPA and state regulators," EM Senior Advisor William "Ike" White said. "We all know how important those relationships are to achieving success across EM."

"The success of the SRS D Area Ash Project is a direct result of a sound closure plan developed by a core team of DOE-Savannah River and SRNS project managers and supported by our state and federal environmental regulators," said Michael D. Budney, manager, DOE-SR Operations Office. "The strategy of a phased approach provided schedule and financial flexibility and allowed the team to set the standard for how to clean up one of the biggest environmental problems facing power generating facilities across the U.S., whether commercial or federally owned."

Before-and-after photos of the Savannah River Site ash basin cleanup project. Crews remediated over 90 acres of federal property.
Before-and-after photos of the Savannah River Site ash basin cleanup project. Crews remediated over 90 acres of federal property.

Remediation was complicated by immense rains from multiple hurricanes. Each inch of rain resulted in roughly 1 million gallons of stormwater that had to be managed and pass toxicity testing before it could be discharged. Despite the challenges, the $65.8 million project was completed in 2019, a year ahead of schedule and more than $8 million under budget.

"This mammoth cleanup task consolidated more than 400,000 cubic yards of coal ash and was completed more than a year ahead of schedule while saving millions," said Stuart MacVean, SRNS president and CEO. "We were pursuing performance excellence, safe operations, and timely completion with this multi-year project, and those goals were not just met, but exceeded."

The project team includes Karen Adams, federal project director; Todd Alasin, project management support with DOE; Brian Hennessey, Federal Facilities Agreement project manager with DOE; Susan Bell, SRNS project manager; Julee Smith, SRNS project controls lead; Drew Murphy, SRNS buyer; and Don Baston, SRNS design engineering.

Each year DOE recognizes various projects that have demonstrated excellence in project management. The Secretary's Excellence Award is presented to a project team that achieves “exceptional results” in completing a project within cost and schedule.