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Dr. Vincent Adams congratulates crew members who prepared the first shipment of process gas equipment from the Portsmouth Site in early 2013.
Dr. Vincent Adams retires from the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office this month.
In 2012, Dr. Vincent Adams received the Ohio School Boards Association’s President’s Award.
“It was a highly rewarding career,” Adams said. “I am grateful to DOE for the opportunity to serve this great nation.”
PPPO Manager Robert Edwards said Adams managed the Portsmouth Site during a critical period in the site’s history.
“In his final years of DOE federal service, Vince oversaw the deactivation of the first of three large process buildings at Portsmouth and ultimately the initial construction of the On-Site Waste Disposal Facility,” Edwards said.
Adams credits the community and regulators’ acceptance of the project to building good relationships and trust.
“Dr. Vince Adams was an outstanding public servant for DOE and for this community,” said retired Pike County auditor Ted Wheeler. “His work will contribute positive things for this community for the next 50 years.”
Wheeler, who said he appreciated Adams’ “can-do attitude,” previously wrote that the deputy manager had “integrated the community’s future development visions with DOE’s long-range mission” and “established himself as a dependable partner with the community.”
Adams’ unconventional path to DOE began in Guyana, where he attended high school, a privilege for only about the top 1 percent selected at an early age. He was mindful that his mother never got to go to school.
“She could have been bitter, but she was one of the kindest people on the planet,” Adams recalled. “Her situation lit a fire inside me.”
Adams captained his high school cricket team, made the national under-19 team, was captain of two first division men’s teams, and made the national team as a teenager representing Guyana in elite Caribbean regional cricket tournaments.
By the early 1970s, he was preparing to sign a contract with England’s big leagues when he was injured in a serious automobile accident, putting his dream suddenly out of reach.
Adams then focused on education, graduating in the first civil engineering class from the University of Guyana.
He later moved to the U.S., where he earned two Master of Science degrees, one in hydrogeology and the other in petroleum and geological engineering. He later obtained a doctorate in environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
In 1986, Adams joined DOE’s former Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management as a hydrogeologist in west Texas. Two years later he joined the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program at Oak Ridge, Tenn. as an environmental engineer.
Following the shutdown of Oak Ridge’s K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Adams helped establish the EM program at the East Tennessee Technology Park. He managed the Toxic Substance Control Act Incinerator, including leading a successful 18-month restart after his 1990 arrival following a major accident there.
Later, Adams served as director of the K-25 deactivation and decommissioning (D&D), oversaw the DOE National Metals Recycle Center and managed the Melton Valley environmental restoration project.
Adams moved to EM headquarters in 2007, where he served as director for the Groundwater and Soils Office. He helped stand-up the $6-billion EM Recovery Act program and directed the $1.7-billion Recovery Act project at the Savannah River Site.
In 2010, Adams returned to the Portsmouth Site, which he had previously managed temporarily, to serve as its director and to kick off the D&D project there. In August 2016, he was promoted to deputy manager of PPPO, which oversees both the Portsmouth and Paducah, Ky. gaseous diffusion plant sites.
In retirement, Adams will continue the quest to make the U.S. the next frontier for the world’s second-most popular sport as a member of the International Cricket Council Advisory Group. He will also continue his mentoring and advocating for disadvantaged youths in the U.S. and Guyana. Adams received the 2012 President’s Award from the Ohio School Boards Association for his commitment to education and contributions to science, technology, engineering and math education.
“People helped me,” said Adams, who recently delivered the commencement address at the University of Guyana. “Now it’s my turn to help people who are in the same situation I was. I tell them my life story. If I can make it, you can make it.”