AIKEN, S.C. – The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) has established the Regulatory Center of Excellence (RCE) as an expert resource charged with helping EM and others manage complex issues involving science, government and communications.
The interactions of local, state, tribal and federal agencies with the public they serve, industry and each other often create the need for unique technical, regulatory and communications approaches, lab managers said.
The SRNL center was created to provide innovative strategies that address challenges at DOE sites, drawing upon the collective expertise of the South Carolina laboratory, the Network of National Laboratories for Environmental Management and Stewardship, the private consulting firm Longenecker and Associates, and SRNL’s university partners.
The need for the RCE stems not only from the need for accelerated and technical solutions to challenges but also from the need for improved communications with site stakeholders, regulators and communities, said Connie Herman, SRNL’s associate lab director for environmental and legacy management.
“The transparency of, and understanding for, what you are doing and what does this mean [to the public] is certainly key,” she said. Herman noted that as EM’s lab, SRNL was tasked with seeing how the lab could help DOE sites improve the way they communicate.
“The vision [for the RCE] is consistent with the direction of DOE-EM and their engagement strategies,” said Herman. “Now we’re seeing in the DOE-EM 2022-2032 Strategic Vision, each site specifically spells out their strategy for communication and engagement with the public, tribal leaders, regulators and the community — something that was not there in the past,” she said.
Specifically, the RCE will:
- Build a diverse network of experts and researchers to support DOE interactions with regulators and community leaders.
- Leverage EM experience and best practices to support other DOE missions that involve complex environmental issues requiring effective regulatory and stakeholder engagement strategies.
- Provide counsel to federal program owners, other federal partners, state regulators, tribal governments, local governments, redevelopment organizations, and members of the community in the development of risk-informed strategies for environmental cleanup and closure within the bounds of their respective regulatory agreements.
- Recommend strategies to build upon existing community interactions to strengthen communications and mitigate stakeholder concerns.
SRNL, the Savannah River Site and the site’s other tenant organizations have enjoyed strong relationships with regulators and the surrounding communities. Herman said the RCE team wanted to examine those relationships and see what could be applied or replicated at other DOE sites.
“What SRNL and our partners bring to the table is the demonstrated ability to facilitate communications between DOE sites, communities and regulators, and bringing in those groups’ perspectives,” said Herman.
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