EM plans a wide range of accomplishments in 2020, including some that have been years in the making and that promise to significantly advance the cleanup mission, EM Senior Advisor Ike White told a key stakeholder audience on Jan. 31.
In remarks to the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), White said major liquid waste treatment facilities at the Savannah River and Idaho sites are expected to start operations, and the completion of construction supporting Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) treatment at Hanford puts that project only a short distance away from startup.
“This year will see a leap forward in our ability to tackle our largest and one of the most challenging environmental risks — tank waste — with the start of the Salt Waste Processing Facility at Savannah River and the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at Idaho,” White said. “And at Hanford, we will complete construction and continue moving forward with commissioning on DFLAW. This puts the start of actual tank waste treatment at Hanford within reach in just a few years.
“Individually, these capabilities will ramp up our ability to tackle tank waste,” he said. “Collectively, they represent a fundamental shift for EM as we complete these long-running construction projects and focus on waste treatment operations.
“I’ve been part of the DOE enterprise for nearly three decades and I can’t recall the last time any part of DOE stood up such an impressive collection of operational capability in relatively short order,” he said.
White, senior advisor to the Under Secretary for Science overseeing EM, delivered his remarks to the annual conference of ECA, the organization of local governments adjacent to or impacted by DOE activities.
White told the stakeholders EM plans important progress at a number of cleanup sites, including:
- Construction will begin this year on a new utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to provide added ventilation and allow greater flexibility for mining operations.
- Oak Ridge will realize the Vision 2020 goal of completing core cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park.
- Demolition will be completed at Hanford’s iconic Plutonium Finishing Plant, which produced two-thirds of the plutonium metal used in the U.S. nuclear stockpile.
- Demolition will begin on Building X-326, the first of three massive former uranium enrichment process buildings at the Portsmouth Site.
- Cleanup of the Separations Process Research Unit site will be declared complete and the area returned to the DOE Office of Naval Reactors.
- Seventy locations where the EM Nevada Program completed successful cleanup, including on the Tonopah Test Range, will be transferred to DOE’s Office of Legacy Management for long-term stewardship.
- Demolition will begin on the Main Plant Process Building at the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York state, the last remaining major facility on that site.
- Also in New York, the last cleanup project at the Brookhaven National Laboratory will be completed with the demolition of a former reactor stack.
White said the planned accomplishments not only will reduce environmental risks significantly but also demonstrate EM’s ability to maintain progress, strengthening the case for resources to continue the mission.
“Such results will continue to demonstrate that the government is able to fulfill its commitments to your communities that played such an important role in the security and prosperity of our entire country,” he told the audience.
“Not only will 2020 serve as a milestone year for EM and the Department, but I believe it will start off a decade of significant progress across the program,” White said. “I’m excited about what is to come, and what we will be able to achieve with the talented and dedicated men and women who work throughout the EM program, and the support of the communities we call home.”