US DOE achieves most of its 2020 environmental clean-up priorities

18 January 2021

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) has accomplished the vast majority of its Calendar Year 2020 priorities, reaching major historic milestones that advanced its clean-up mission, according to a recently released “scorecard”.

In early 2020, EM had set out an aggressive list of priorities for the coming year and its accomplishments had been achieved amid the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our scorecard on EM’s 2020 mission priorities demonstrates remarkable progress by our clean-up workforce during a global pandemic,” said EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White. “I am inspired by the way the EM workforce pulled together in 2020, adapting and finding ways to boost productivity and teamwork while adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.”

EM said the workforce marked accomplishments across the DOE complex that resulted in transformational tank waste capabilities, historic skyline changes, and other major clean-up advancements, “positioning EM for a decade of transformational progress”.

At Oak Ridge, workers completed demolition at the East Tennessee Technology Park, making it the first site in the world to remove an entire uranium enrichment complex. At the Savannah River Site, crews began operations at the first-of-a-kind Salt Waste Processing Facility, the last major piece of the site’s liquid waste treatment system. The facility has the potential to process up to 9 million gallons of liquid waste a year.

EM also achieved significant advancement of key components of DOE’s tank waste treatment mission at other sites, including Hanford, where workers “made progress in construction, startup, and commissioning critical to the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste approach”. EM's small sites made significant accomplishments as well. At the Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project in Utah, workers reached a milestone 11 million tons of mill tailings shipped from a former uranium ore processing site in Moab to a disposal cell near Crescent Junction.

While not all of the priorities were fully accomplished, significant progress was made and EM  said it looks forward to completing them in the future. “While we were not able to check off every item on our 2020 priorities, the full list demonstrates our ambitious view of what the EM programme is capable of achieving,” White said. “All of those with an interest in our work can use tools like this to gauge our progress for themselves.”

Photo: ETTP site in Oak Ridge following demolition (Photo: DOE)

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