The four-day visit by Jeff Avery, principal deputy assistant secretary, and Kristen Ellis, acting associate principal deputy assistant secretary for regulatory and policy affairs, proved to be multifaceted. One component of the trip involved daylong participation in the State & Tribal Government Working Group’s annual conference in Las Vegas.
Their involvement served to further relationships between DOE, state technical and policy representatives and tribes that host DOE facilities or are impacted by DOE activities. The groups discussed long-term stewardship, tribal issues, transportation planning, radioactive waste disposal, and deactivation and decommissioning activities.
“It has been my experience that it takes a team to complete anything of real consequence,” Avery said during a panel discussion. “We are always better together, and we have so much to learn from all of you in this room.”
Avery and Ellis also received updates on progress by EM Nevada and the National Nuclear Security Administration at the NNSS. This included briefings from EM Nevada representatives on the ongoing characterization, monitoring, modeling and institutional control of specific areas of groundwater contaminated by historical underground nuclear testing, the Radioactive Waste Acceptance Program and hazard reduction for future demolition of the Engine, Maintenance, Assembly, and Disassembly (EMAD) and Test Cell C (TCC) facilities at the NNSS.
“The EMAD and TCC facilities represent the last major demolition efforts currently identified in EM Nevada’s environmental remediation mission and it is exciting to see new trucks arrive and demolition staging begin for work at TCC in the coming weeks,” said Ellis.
Avery met with Christine Andres of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to discuss accomplishments, as well as ongoing challenges and concerns. Avery and Ellis then embarked on a comprehensive tour of the NNSS, visiting areas related to ongoing legacy cleanup work and environmental stewardship. They also visited historic sites including the Apple-2 House, Sedan Crater and Icecap.
“We were honored to host Jeff, Kristen and their team,” EM Nevada Program Manager Robert Boehlecke said. “It was a great opportunity to highlight the important work being done by the EM Nevada Program to address legacy contamination at the NNSS while providing information about our safe and secure disposal options for low-level waste, mixed low-level waste, and classified waste generated by EM, the DOE, the NNSA and Department of Defense programs.”
Avery and Ellis also toured The Atomic Museum in Las Vegas, a national science, history and educational institution that tells the story of America’s nuclear weapons testing program at the NNSS.
Last year, the museum added an EM exhibit dedicated to educating visitors on the environmental cleanup work associated with historic testing.
The EM leaders also met with Anthony Graham and Mark Hilton of the Nevada Site Specific Advisory Board to hear from them on issues and opportunities for improvement.
“Traveling to the sites, meeting with DOE, community, state, and tribal representatives who are all working in concert to move the mission forward — that is the best part of my job,” said Avery. “It takes courage to remain open to new ideas and allow ourselves to challenge one another as we pursue best approaches to our common goals. I saw a tremendous amount of courage on display from EM and all our partners in Nevada.”
To receive the latest news and updates about the Office of Environmental Management, submit your e-mail address.