EM Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Nicole Nelson-Jean
EM Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Nicole Nelson-Jean

Significant achievements at EM cleanup sites such as the Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC), Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) highlight EM’s mission progress in recent months, Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Nicole Nelson-Jean told an industry conference last week.

Nelson-Jean was the keynote speaker at the 2021 RadWaste Summit, held in Las Vegas. Nelson-Jean delivered her remarks in a recorded video.

Besides touting EM field accomplishments, Nelson-Jean also announced that EM-Los Alamos has been chosen as one of five DOE pilot programs under the Justice40 Initiative. This initiative was created by the Biden Administration through the executive order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, and provides recommendations on how certain federal investments might be made toward a goal that 40% of the overall benefits flow to disadvantaged communities.

“This guidance supports the administration’s comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all people in the United States,” Nelson-Jean said. “This is a unique opportunity for the Office of Environmental Management to show its ongoing efforts to support disadvantaged communities.”

Nelson-Jean also discussed the EM Strategic Vision: 2021-2031 in which she mentioned that EM is expanding its recruiting strategies and leadership development programs.

“We are committed to promoting and supporting an inclusive environment that provides all employees with the chance to work to their full potential,” she said.

In her remarks, Nelson-Jean pointed to a number of EM achievements in recent months, including:

  • Demolition of the final 18 DOE-owned buildings at the ETEC site in southern California, reducing important safety and fire risks. “We will continue to work with the state of California on final cleanup, including groundwater and soils remediation,” she said.
  • Completing the first commissioning test, involving one of 37 remote-operated cranes, within the Low-Activity Waste Facility at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at Hanford in Washington state. “This accomplishment brings us one step closer to treating tank waste at the site,” she said.
  • Completing environmental cleanup at Bayview Parcel 1 South at LBNL in California. Workers deactivated, demolished, and removed tunnels, foundation slabs, and utilities for disposal offsite, and also cleaned up contaminated soils. “This effort will allow valuable land to be made available for the laboratory’s future use,” Nelson-Jean said.
  • Initiating characterization and hazard-reduction activities at the Test Cell C complexes and the Engine Maintenance, Assembly, and Disassembly complex at the Nevada National Security Site, preparing the buildings for demolition.
  • Completing demolition of the final building at the Biology Complex at Oak Ridge in Tennessee. Taking down the six-story, 255,000-square foot Building 9207 “was quite a feat,” Nelson-Jean said. “Completion of the Biology Complex removes significant structural risks and opens land for the future lithium processing facility.”
  • Continuing progress on construction of the Salt Reduction Building at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, a feature of the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System being planned to strengthen airflow through the underground repository.
  • Successfully conducting a startup test of the 700-C fan at WIPP. When the component comes online, it will increase airflow in the underground during non-waste handing operations, allowing for improved working conditions, Nelson-Jean said.
  • Removing a septic system and well associated with a former one-room schoolhouse at the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York, completing the removal of 46 accessory facilities no longer needed for site cleanup.

Nelson-Jean noted that EM continued to make progress in its mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is true testament to the work ethic and dedication of the federal and contractor employees,” she said.