EM has joined forces with the DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM) to expand the EM National Laboratory Network to support the missions of both program offices: legacy nuclear waste cleanup and long-term stewardship of closure sites.

EM Acting Assistant Secretary William “Ike” White and LM Director Carmelo Melendez recently chartered the renamed group called the Network of National Laboratories for Environmental Management and Stewardship (NNLEMS).

“We recognize the special relationship of national labs as federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) with the government and the value of national labs’ technical support to the success of the EM and LM programs,” White said.

Established in 2017, the EM National Laboratory Network consisted of the Savannah River, Idaho, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, and Sandia national laboratories. The network served to advise DOE on policy decisions on environmental cleanup and assist DOE in solving emerging and recalcitrant issues. These labs have significant EM-sponsored capabilities and are located near large EM cleanup sites, including Hanford, Savannah River, Idaho, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The newly expanded network includes five additional national labs: Argonne, Brookhaven, and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories; National Energy Technology Laboratory; and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

“This expansion of the lab network will benefit both EM and LM because of the close relationship and synergy between the EM and LM mission activities,” Melendez said.

The expanded lab network is chaired by Vahid Majidi, director of Savannah River National Laboratory, EM’s corporate lab, and co-chaired by another lab director or deputy lab director on a rotating basis. The current co-chair is Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason.

“Increasing integration of all aspects of our network to develop comprehensive solutions for environmental cleanup and long-term stewardship is our goal,” Majidi said. “Nuclear environmental cleanup projects start in EM and transition to LM for monitoring, maintenance of remedies, and continued operation of treatment systems such as for groundwater that were implemented by EM.”

Ming Zhu, EM senior advisor for laboratory policy and EM liaison to NNLEMS, says the expanded network works with EM and LM headquarters and site offices to identify and coordinate resources for addressing emergent technical issues, independent technical reviews, strategic planning, technical analysis to support policy development and stakeholder engagement, collaboration with DOE contractors, and implementation of end-state contracting activities.

According to LM, the combined NNLEMS will benefit from the dynamic energy and successes of ongoing LM support. Melendez envisioned the NNLEMS activities with the goal of reducing risks at LM’s highest risk sites. LM and participating national labs have responded to his challenge to identify science and technology solutions, resulting in specific and actionable recommendations for LM sites in Shiprock and Bluewater, New Mexico; Tuba City and Monument Valley, Arizona; and Fernald, Ohio.

The collaboration of the national laboratories in EM and LM activities has resulted in recommendations that improve efficiency, improve communication with stakeholders and regulators, and improve responsiveness to Congress.