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LM Communications, Education, and Outreach Team Lead Kristen Holmes
LM Communications, Education, and Outreach Team Lead Kristen Holmes works the booth at the Alaska Forum on the Environment.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) staff and LM Support (LMS) contractors travelled to the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska, where they operated a booth and delivered a presentation at the 22nd annual Alaska Forum on the Environment (AFE) in February.

AFE is an annual gathering of environmental professionals, representatives from government agencies, non-profit and for-profit business leaders, Alaskan youth, conservationists, biologists, and community elders. Participants to this year’s forum could choose from more than 100 technical training sessions, ranging from marine debris and environmental regulations to rural issues and pollution prevention.

“Alaska is a big state,” said LM Director of Site Operations David Shafer. “And it’s rare that so many of the regulators, stakeholders, other federal agencies, and companies we are working with on LM’s Alaska sites are all in the same place.”

Amchitka Site Manager Jason Nguyen
Amchitka Site Manager Jason Nguyen presents at the conference. (Photo Credit: Alaska Teen Media Institute)

LM Amchitka Site Manager Jason Nguyen presented on recent LM work on Amchitka Island, including efforts to address earthquake damage to mud disposal pits at the site and the sampling results from the radiologic monitoring completed in 2016.

“Our results over the past two sampling events have consistently showed that fisheries around Amchitka have not been impacted by DOE operations on the island,” said Nguyen. “LM will continue to evaluate food safety in the vicinity of the island to meet its goal of protection of human health and the environment.”

The federal government conducted three underground nuclear tests on Amchitka Island in the 1960s and 1970s, including the largest underground detonation that had occurred in the United States at the time. The legacy from those tests includes seven disposal pits containing diesel-contaminated drilling mud and three underground cavities where the nuclear tests were conducted. LM is responsible for the long-term stewardship and monitoring of the former test sites and associated wastes.

Alaska Forum Bag Monster
The “bag monster” was a favorite attendee at the AFE Conference. The bag monster was created to draw attention to plastic pollution.

LM is also responsible for long-term stewardship of the Project Chariot site near Cape Thompson, Alaska. Project Chariot was a proposed plan to construct an artificial harbor at Cape Thompson by detonating multiple nuclear devices. After strong public opposition, the project was cancelled. Although the detonations never occurred, the site was contaminated by diesel fluids used in drilling and radioactive fission products used in test plots.

“Working the LM booth at the forum has been a great opportunity to meet with Alaskans and discuss our long-term stewardship work in their state,” said LM Program Analyst Padraic Benson.

With 1,800 attendees, AFE provided a rich opportunity for LM and LMS staff to interact with diverse audiences interested in the environment and provide information about LM’s work across the country.

“One of the great things about this event is that it brings out folks of all ages from across Alaska, from school children to elders,” said Benson.