LAS VEGAS – The EM Nevada Program has safely and successfully completed environmental corrective actions at historically contaminated soils sites on the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and Air Force-controlled Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR).
This significant achievement resulted in a cost savings of $66 million and wrapped up decades of work six years ahead of schedule — a feat realized by streamlining the closure process at multiple sites, negotiating closure strategies that balanced worker and environmental risks with planned land use, and utilizing funds gained through other operation efficiencies to complete work earlier to offset costs associated with long-term maintenance.
On August 28, 2019, the last of 457 waste shipments made the roughly 200-mile journey from the Clean Slate III site on the NTTR to the NNSS Area 3 Radioactive Waste Management Site where it was permanently disposed. Clean Slate waste shipments consisted of contaminated soils and debris excavated from the surface and shallow subsurface of sites where safety experiments were conducted in the spring of 1963 to determine if nuclear weapons could be accidentally set off and produce a nuclear yield.
Of utmost importance, environmental corrective actions were completed at the 144 soils sites with no Occupational Safety and Health Administration-recordable injuries, and worker exposures were minimized through careful planning such that none exceeded established safety limits. This is significant because hundreds of scientists, technicians, laboratory employees, and other team members supported completion of characterization and environmental corrective actions at the sites — 138 on the NNSS and six on NTTR.
Dozens of stakeholders also contributed to the success of this effort, including representatives of the State of Nevada, U.S. Air Force, tribes, other intergovernmental entities, and the Nevada Site Specific Advisory Board, which provides recommendations to the EM Nevada Program.
This accomplishment will culminate with the anticipated approval of the closure report in early fiscal 2020, which is required by the Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order (FFACO). The FFACO is a legal agreement that sets forth the requirements for completing environmental corrective actions at locations in Nevada historically contaminated by DOE and Department of Defense activities.
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