OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its cleanup contractor UCOR are conducting a critical review of remediation measures in place across the Oak Ridge Reservation virtually as they adapt to challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The five-year, multi-agency review underway is designed to determine if remedies that have been implemented continue to protect human health and the environment. Required by CERCLA — the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act — the review covers the three DOE sites in Oak Ridge — the East Tennessee Technology Park, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Y-12 National Security Complex. This is the fifth review since the start of remedial actions in Oak Ridge in the 1990s.
The review included more than 40 interviews held this summer followed by virtual site visits in August and September. Those interviewed included facility managers, engineers, system operators, project managers, subject-matter experts, and site personnel. Regulators, stakeholders, members of the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board, and others participated in the virtual site visits. Interviews and visits were conducted using online conference systems.
All three Oak Ridge sites will be evaluated on their performance of cleanup remedies. This evaluation will continue into next year, with results scheduled to be delivered by May 31, 2021.
“This is an important review that helps ensure that public health and safety, and the environment are protected over the long term,” OREM Quality and Mission Support Division Director Dave Adler said.
Cleanup remedies address the legacies remaining from more than 50 years of energy research and weapons production. The measures includes environmental remediation, removing deteriorated and radioactively contaminated facilities, and disposing legacy low-level, mixed low-level, transuranic wastes, and hazardous and non-hazardous industrial wastes.
The review, which will be finalized and released next year, uses groundwater, surface water, soil, sediment, and data on plant and animal life from fiscal 2016 through fiscal 2020 as the basis for its evaluations. Sampling is conducted as part of the review.
OREM, UCOR, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation will evaluate that data to ensure that the cleanup and remediation that are conducted to fulfill regulatory commitments are protective of human health and the environment.