DOE is a responsible federal land manager and steward of natural and cultural resources at DOE sites. DOE uses institutional controls for its long-term stewardship (LTS) program to manage lands, facilities, materials and resources under its jurisdiction. LTS includes the physical controls, institutions, information and other mechanisms needed to ensure protection of people and the environment at sites or portions of sites where DOE has completed or plans to complete "cleanup" (e.g., landfill closures, remedial actions, corrective actions, removal actions and facility stabilization) and where legacy contamination will remain hazardous. The DOE's Legacy Management (LM) procedures for DOE sites includes a combination of land-use controls, monitoring and maintenance and information management practices. Many of these controls are required as part of the decision process established by various laws, such as the Nuclear Waste Policy Act; the Atomic Energy Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), or cultural resource management statutes. In other cases there are no specific statutory requirements, but DOE has decided to use institutional controls to supplement active remediation, pollution control, public and resource protection, physical security, or to bolster the integrity of engineered remedies.
During World War II and the Cold War, the federal government developed the “nuclear weapons complex,” a vast network of industrial facilities for the research, production and testing of nuclear weapons and nuclear devices. The production and testing of nuclear weapons and energy research activities left a legacy of radioactive and chemical waste, contamination, and hazardous facilities and materials. During the past few decades, DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has made significant progress in addressing this environmental legacy and has reduced the risks and costs associated with maintaining safe conditions across the DOE complex. Based on existing plans and agreements with state and federal environmental regulators, EM program cleanups at most sites will have radioactive waste and other residual hazards that require long-term controls. As a DOE cleanup nears completion, long-term stewardship becomes a major priority.
After cleanup is completed and LTS plans are in place, LTS responsibilities are carried out by the DOE program responsible for on-going mission at the site. When a site’s mission ends, DOE’s Office of Legacy Management (LM) ensures LTS for the site.
Click here to learn more about DOE's Office of Legacy Management.