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Members of the panel focused on the return on investment in EM technology.
Members of the panel focused on the return on investment in EM technology.

PHOENIX – Technology’s pivotal role in advancing EM’s mission was the focus of a panel at the Waste Management Symposia.

Panel co-chairs Kurt Gerdes, director of EM's Technology Development Office, and Connie Herman, associate laboratory director, chemical and environmental sciences, Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), highlighted complex-wide initiatives that have shown a significant return on investment.

Jud Virden, associate laboratory director at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, shared how the laboratory has been successful with a wide range of technologies. Examples included melter technology, in-situ characterization of tank residuals, subsurface energy systems, and spray release methodology. Virden noted that science and technology deliver the biggest impact to the EM mission when near- and long-term issues are identified in the field, and key science and technology capabilities are strategically employed.

Carol Eddy-Dilek, SRNL senior technology advisor, highlighted EM’s Technology Development Technical Assistance Program, which has provided support to the DOE complex since 2000. The program’s objectives include improving the effectiveness of DOE’s environmental activities and incorporating science into the cleanup program. Eddy-Dilek noted that the program has had an impact across the complex, with team visits to 12 DOE sites.

Vijay Jain, chief technology officer with Savannah River Remediation (SRR), EM’s liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS), provided an overview of the liquid waste facilities at SRS. Jain also detailed the site’s objectives to immobilize high-level waste into glass and low-level waste into grout, and to close waste tanks. To achieve these objectives, SRR relies on its technology optimization blueprint, which encourages cooperation and coordination of ideas. Doubling the capacity of a glass waste storage building at SRS saved $100 million and demonstrated the effectiveness of optimizing technology.

Martin Williams, senior vice president and chief operating officer with NuVision Engineering, discussed lessons learned — some of which were echoed by other panelists — such as communicating the benefits of new technology to stakeholders, ensuring governments and agencies have an active role, and keeping the end user’s needs at the forefront of a technology strategy.

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