EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White greets Idaho Environmental Coalition Fire Protection Engineer Thomas Bechtold last week during a celebration to commemorate the completion of targeted buried waste exhumation from the Subsurface Disposal Area
EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White greets Idaho Environmental Coalition Fire Protection Engineer Thomas Bechtold last week during a celebration to commemorate the completion of targeted buried waste exhumation from the Subsurface Disposal Area.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Elected officials and EM leaders last week commended the team that completed the exhumation of targeted waste from 5.69 acres of a Cold War weapons landfill at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site.

“Employees of the Idaho Cleanup Project (ICP) are helping to clean up the legacy of the Cold War,” U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho said in a letter submitted to the Congressional Record. “Please join me in thanking them for their dedication, professionalism and commitment to protecting the environment in Idaho.”

Idaho Gov. Brad Little thanks employees for completing a targeted buried waste exhumation project during a celebration last week at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little thanks employees for completing a targeted buried waste exhumation project during a celebration last week at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site.

During a celebratory event at the INL Site on March 30, representatives from Idaho’s congressional delegation read a statement from the state’s U.S. Senate and House members that was read into the Congressional Record.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden thanked employees at the event for finishing the project early and protecting the Snake River Plain Aquifer, which flows beneath the waste repository.

DOE employees display an official entry of the Congressional Record thanking Accelerated Retrieval Project employees for completing a targeted buried waste retrieval project early and protecting Idaho’s Snake River Plain Aquifer.
DOE employees display an official entry of the Congressional Record thanking Accelerated Retrieval Project employees for completing a targeted buried waste retrieval project early and protecting Idaho’s Snake River Plain Aquifer.

EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White said it’s a pleasure coming to the INL Site for celebrations like the one marking the completion of retrieval of buried waste from the Subsurface Disposal Area (SDA) as well as a previous event when crews treated the last transuranic waste debris from the nearby Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project.

White noted that EM’s Accelerated Retrieval Project (ARP) crews surpassed a milestone early with the completion of the buried waste exhumation at the waste repository, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Eighteen months ahead of schedule and in the middle of a global pandemic — I can’t overstate how difficult that was,” White said. “It’s a remarkable feat and it’s a testament to the workforce that we have, all the men and women who make the important work that we do possible.”

EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White thanks Accelerated Retrieval Project employees at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site last week for completing a targeted buried waste retrieval project 18 months ahead of schedule.
EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White thanks Accelerated Retrieval Project employees at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site last week for completing a targeted buried waste retrieval project 18 months ahead of schedule.

EM ICP Manager Connie Flohr thanked those who helped the Department keep its commitment to complete the project to the state of Idaho and others.

“I appreciate the dedication of all employees involved in this effort as well as the support of our stakeholders, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the congressional delegation and the state of Idaho,” she said.

INL Site cleanup contractor Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC) President Ty Blackford kicked off the celebration by emphasizing the teamwork of those who supported the project.

“This is a monumental milestone that demonstrates what you — as a team — are capable of,” he said.

EM Idaho Cleanup Project Manager Connie Flohr speaks with EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White, left, and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden at a targeted buried waste exhumation completion celebration last week at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site.
EM Idaho Cleanup Project Manager Connie Flohr speaks with EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White, left, and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden at a targeted buried waste exhumation completion celebration last week.

Late last year, crews exhumed the final buried radioactive and hazardous waste from the 97-acre SDA required to be removed under a 2008 record of decision. In March, they repackaged the exhumed material for shipment to a permitted repository out of state. In all, crews removed more than 10,000 cubic meters — the equivalent of 49,500 drums — of transuranic waste, solidified solvents, and uranium metal fines. The waste had been shipped to Idaho primarily from the former Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado and buried at the INL Site from 1954 to 1970.

Many IEC employees who began work at the ARP-I in January 2005 stayed with the targeted waste retrieval project through completion. Most of the 200 current employees who supported the project were present at the celebration, donning personal protective equipment, such as reflective vests and safety glasses.