James M. Owendoff
Acting Assistant Secretary
Department of Energy
Strategic Forces Subcommittee
Armed Services Committee
United States Senate
March 12, 1998
Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to present to you the Department of Energy's Environmental Management (EM) program and its Fiscal Year (FY) 1999 budget request.
Our request for FY 1999 reflects a roughly level budget from last year, with a substantial investment for privatizing certain large cleanup projects. As Secretary Peña said in presenting our budget this year, "This demonstrates our continued commitment to accelerating our efforts to clean up our sites and return them for economic development or open space. At the same time, we recognize that safety is our top priority and we remain committed to meeting our environmental compliance obligations."
Key accomplishments resulting from this budget will be accelerated cleanup and closure, deployment of new technologies, and progress in resolving the nuclear waste backlog. We have set very ambitious goals for closing several sites by the year 2006, including the Rocky Flats Site in Colorado, as well as the Mound and Fernald Sites in Ohio. Consequently, we are eager to continue working with Congress to focus funding on cleaning up and closing sites.
The Environmental Management budget also reflects our target of opening the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) later this year, pending the expected certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this spring. In FY 1999, the WIPP should be accepting defense transuranic waste from as many as six states. This will be a crucial step forward in providing for the permanent disposal of the Department's long-lived radioactive waste.
Before discussing our FY 1999 budget request, I would like to provide an overview of our program, some of our accomplishments, the restructuring of the budget, and the variety of management reforms that we have undertaken to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program. Perhaps the most important management reform is the establishment of a goal to clean up as many of the remaining contaminated sites as possible by 2006, in a safe and cost-effective manner. By working towards this goal, we can not only reduce the hazards presently facing our workforce and the public, but also reduce the long-term financial burden on the taxpayer. For every year that a site remains open because cleanup has not been completed, we are paying a "mortgage" of necessary overhead for activities such as site security, facility operations, personnel, safety and other costs. By completing cleanup sooner, particularly at sites where we have no other continuing missions, we can substantially reduce these overhead costs. The FY 1999 budget request reflects a fundamental restructuring to emphasize site closure and project completion.
A. MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL LEGACY FROM THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS OF THE NUCLEAR AGE
The Environmental Management program (EM) is responsible for managing and cleaning up the environmental legacy of the nation's nuclear weapons and government nuclear energy projects. Beginning with World War II, DOE and its predecessor agencies developed the largest government-owned industry in the United States, responsible for nuclear weapons research, development, testing, and production as well as a variety of other nuclear-related research projects. When most nuclear weapons production operations ceased in the late 1980's, DOE established the Office of Environmental Management in 1989 to address the environmental legacy of nuclear weapons production and other nuclear-related programs.
Although EM is often referred to as the "cleanup program," this term can be misleading if it is interpreted to compare the program to EPA's Superfund program or the environmental restoration program at the Department of Defense. In addition to these "standard" cleanup duties at DOE sites, EM is also responsible for the world's largest nuclear stewardship program, which maintains the safety and security of more than 25 metric tons of weapons-usable plutonium and over two thousand tons of intensely radioactive spent nuclear fuel, and for carrying out critical nuclear nonproliferation programs.
Finally, it is important to note that the nature of much of the waste handled by DOE is fundamentally different from most chemical waste cleanup programs: it cannot be broken down into constituent elements, but instead requires isolation from the environment through treatment and/or disposal while it decays. Because of the frequently long-lived radioactive nature of the 36 million cubic meters of waste (containing about one billion curies of radioactivity), we can treat it, stabilize it, contain it, isolate it and monitor it, but we cannot readily destroy it with currently available technology. Finally, some of the nuclear materials we handle present unique hazards. For example, plutonium can spontaneously ignite when it comes in contact with moist air under certain conditions, thereby requiring extraordinary precautions for safe handling and storage.
We have been giving priority to high risk problems such as stabilizing and ensuring the security of plutonium and stabilizing tanks containing high-level radioactive waste. We have also addressed problems in order to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements and to meet our legal obligations under our compliance agreements with state and Federal agencies. In addition to addressing high risk problems and complying with legal requirements, we also know that successful cleanup requires investing in developing and deploying more effective technologies. Without successful investments in technology, the cost and technical challenges would make long-term success impossible. Finally, we have found that performing good technical work is not enough. Getting the job done requires cooperation with regulators and other stakeholders. We have supported effective public participation through continued relationships with States and Site-Specific and National Advisory Boards, as well as funding for Indian tribes potentially affected by our activities.
B. ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND PROGRESS -
TREATING AND MOVING WASTE, NOT JUST PAPER
Our program has produced substantial cleanup results at contaminated nuclear facilities around the country. I would like to tell you about the cleanup results we have achieved in the past year, as well as during the past eight years since our program was established. For example:
- In FY 1997, we completed cleanup at 411 individual waste sites (including cleanups funded by Defense and Non-Defense appropriation accounts), four percent more than our target of complete cleanup at 395 sites. This means that, on average, more than one cleanup is completed every day of the year, including holidays. At 76 other sites, we completed technical evaluations and determined, with regulator agreement, that no further action was warranted. In addition, we completed assessments to prepare for cleanup at 477 sites -- 16 percent more than required by regulatory requirements. By the end of FY 1999, we expect to have completed cleanup or made "no further action" determinations for nearly half (47 percent) of the approximately 9,300 contaminated release sites for which the EM program is responsible.
- In the past year, we transferred one surplus nuclear weapons facility, the Pinellas Site in Florida, to local communities for constructive reuse and committed in a Memorandum of Understanding to transfer another one, the Mound Site, in Ohio. These events highlight our goals of completing cleanup as rapidly as possible, meeting cleanup standards appropriate for the expected future use, and ensuring long-term stewardship and institutional control for residual contamination following transfer. Our goal is to complete cleanup, turning sites over to local communities for reuse at some sites and continuing vital government weapons and research missions at others.
- In FY 1997, we produced 169 canisters of waste vitrified into glass at the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF), at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina, adding to the 64 canisters produced in FY 1996, its first year of operation. Production continues to increase at DWPF, the nation's largest high-level waste treatment facility -- we have already poured 115 canisters this fiscal year, and this year is not yet half over.
- At the Rocky Flats Site in Colorado, we drained and stabilized more than 1,600 gallons of acidic plutonium liquids from nine tanks.
- Our investments in science and technology are also paying off. We demonstrated more that 50 new technologies during FY 1997 and deployed 40 new technologies for cleanup in the field.
- At the Hanford Site in Washington, we completed the deactivation of the plutonium uranium extraction facility (PUREX), 15 months ahead of schedule and $75 million under budget. By deactivating this high risk facility (removing special nuclear materials and shutting down unnecessary systems), we reduced the annual surveillance and maintenance costs from $34 million to only $1 million.
Our management improvements have also resulted in greater efficiency:
- By the end of FY 1997, our uncosted balances were lower than the established benchmark for the second year in a row.
- Our Headquarters support costs have been reduced by 85 percent during the last few years from $130 million in FY 1994 (two percent of total EM budget) to $28 million (less than one-half percent) in FY 1998.
- The number of Headquarters employees has been reduced more than 40 percent since July 1995, when it was at its highest.
We are proud of our accomplishments, but also realize that completing our daunting task will require accelerated cleanup and greater efficiency if we are to succeed within projected budget targets.
C. RESTRUCTURING THE BUDGET TO FOCUS ON COMPLETING CLEANUP AND CLOSING FACILITIES
The most significant change in our FY 1999 budget request is a new structure based on our vision of completing cleanup at as many sites as possible by the year 2006. Through this account structure, we are seeking to provide greater accountability to program managers, Congress and stakeholders. The new account structure helps highlight how much funding is being provided for 1) sites where cleanup and closure is expected 2006; 2) sites where cleanup is expected to be completed by 2006, but where the sites will remain open for other Departmental missions; 3) sites where cleanup is expected to be completed after 2006. These accounts are referred to as Closure, Site/Project Completion, and Post-2006 Completion, respectively. I would like to describe the three budget accounts in a little more detail.
1. Site Closure Account
The Site Closure Accounts include funding for sites for which the EM program has established a goal of completing its cleanup mission by the end of FY 2006. After EM's cleanup mission is complete at these sites, no further Departmental mission is envisioned, except for limited long-term surveillance and maintenance, and the sites will be available for some alternative use. This account was established as part of the Defense Account in FY 1998 when Congress consolidated funding for the Rocky Flats and Fernald Sites, which had developed plans for accelerated closure. This Defense Facilities Closure Account is being expanded for FY 1999 to include other Ohio sites where cleanup can be accelerated and substantial savings achieved. By completing cleanup and other EM activities at these locations, outyear program and maintenance costs can be avoided and overall life-cycle costs reduced.
2. Site/Project Completion Account
The Site/Project Completion Account will provide funding for cleanup projects anticipated to be completed by FY 2006 that are located at sites or facilities where a DOE mission (e.g., weapons research/production or scientific research) will continue beyond 2006. This account will also be used to fund specific cleanup projects at large sites where other Environmental Management projects are expected to continue beyond 2006.
In a limited number of cases, this account provides funding for sites where cleanup will be completed by 2006 but where no continuing mission is expected. Funding these sites from the Site/Project Completion Account rather than the Facilities Closure Projects Account will provide the operations office that manages the cleanup with greater flexibility in managing the funds for that site. Use of the Closure Account for these sites would impose an additional appropriation control on the funds without commensurate benefit.
3. Post 2006 Completion Account
In some cases, the cleanup of sites and completion of projects is not technically feasible by 2006. These cleanup projects are too technically complicated and expensive to be completed within this time frame. This is particularly true with several of the large former nuclear weapons facilities where reprocessing (chemical separations) operations have taken place, and high-level wastes and large intensely contaminated "canyon" buildings used for reprocessing remain. Those EM projects currently projected to require funding beyond FY 2006 are funded within the Post 2006 Completion Account.
After completion of cleanup (before or after 2006), the Federal Government will be obligated to maintain some controls at many sites to monitor, maintain, and provide information on the stabilized and contained residual contamination. These activities are necessary to ensure the continuing integrity of the cleanup and the protection of public health and safety. Such long-term stewardship will include passive or active controls and, often, treatment of groundwater over a long period of time. The extent of long-term stewardship required at a particular site will remedy and the end-state developed in consultation among DOE and other representatives of the Administration, Congress, Tribal Nations, representatives of regulatory agencies including state and local authorities, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and interested members of the general public. The Department is committed to meeting its obligations to provide long-term stewardship of these sites.
Funding for long-term stewardship is managed through various sources, including (1) the Grand Junction Office, which funds long-term surveillance and maintenance at closed uranium mill tailings sites and several former nuclear weapons sites, such as the Pinellas Site; (2) the Nevada Operations Office, which funds long-term surveillance and maintenance for former nuclear testing sites, located in Alaska, Colorado, Mississippi, New Mexico and Nevada; and (3) individual sites, where cleanup of some areas has been completed but other activities continue. Request to meet long-term stewardship needs is largely included in the Post-2006 Completion account.
D. MANAGEMENT REFORMS TO FOCUS ON COMPLETING CLEANUP AND CLOSING FACILITIES
1. "Accelerated Cleanup: Paths To Closure"
On March 2, 1998, EM publicly released a draft strategy document, Accelerating Cleanup: Paths To Closure. The Department has made significant progress over the past nine years in addressing the enormous challenge of cleaning up the nuclear weapons complex. Only in the past five years has the EM program made substantial progress in systematically defining technical scope, schedules, and life-cycle costs of meeting this challenge and in creating a step-by-step work plan to tackle it. EM is now focusing on completing cleanup and accordingly has established an acceleration and closure strategy, which emphasizes completing cleanup at most remaining sites by 2006. By the end of FY 1997, 60 of the 113 contaminated sites (including sites funded by both Defense and Non-Defense accounts) had been cleaned up, although some still require long-term surveillance and maintenance. The Paths to Closure consists of integrated life-cycle baselines for 353 discrete cleanup projects that provide the blueprint for completing cleanup at the remaining 53 cleanup sites. The draft strategy addresses facilities and materials currently within EM's responsibility, e.g., it does not cover any future transfers of responsibility to EM from other DOE programs for "excess" facilities. The sum of the cost estimates for the 353 projects is about $147 billion between 1997 and 2070.
Supported by new management tools and improved estimates of the scope, cost, and schedule, EM is challenging sites to define better and more efficient ways to conduct work to achieve its 2006 vision. Paths To Closure document serves as a compilation of the sites' cleanup strategies and will be a valuable resource during annual budget preparation deliberations. However, Paths To Closure is neither a budget document nor a decision document. Decisions are framed through the CERCLA/RCRA process and appropriate National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes.
2. Organizing Work Into "Projects"
Our FY 1999 budget reflects a change in structure. Instead of developing the budget based on general activities or units summarized in "Activity Data Sheets," the EM budget is now built on projects, following the structure and information used in developing Paths To Closure. In this way, the budget reflects our shift in focus from ongoing activities, often of indefinite duration, to projects that are fundamentally organized to achieving particular assumed end-state goals. This shift has evolved over several years, but virtually all of the FY 1999 budget request is organized into approximately 350 projects, each of which is summarized in a Project Baseline Summary (PBS) document. Each PBS includes the current scope, schedule, cost, budget data, performance data, and compliance, safety and health information. EM has aggregated the budget and performance data for each PBS to demonstrate the results that have been achieved and the performance to be accomplished for the resources requested. The goal is to identify complete projects with a clear beginning and end as well as measurable performance measures along the way.
3. Measuring Performance Through Compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act and Contract Reform
The FY 1999 budget is also structured to associate the funding request with specific performance commitments. With performance commitments, Congress and the public can determine what we are all getting for our money. To accomplish this, we are aligning performance measures (metrics) with budgets. This is expected to significantly improve management efficiency and accountability and focus funding on tangible outcomes, and to meet the intent and requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). We are measuring basic results such as:
- volume of waste safely stored, treated and disposed by waste type;
- number of release site cleanups completed (or determined to require no further action);
- number of facilities deactivated and decommissioned;
- quantity of nuclear material and spent nuclear fuel stabilized; and
- number of new technologies demonstrated and deployed.
Other performance measures include safety and health protection for workers, pollution prevention, as well as stakeholder trust and confidence.
Tracking performance objectives and accomplishments has been part of our new contracts since the first major contract was awarded under our contract reform initiative at the Rocky Flats Site in 1995. Since then, we have re-competed major contracts at the Hanford and Savannah River Sites and the sites managed by the Oak Ridge Operations Office. Each of these contracts ties payment of award fees to specific performance measures agreed to in advance. Prior to these contract reform initiatives, contractors were paid award fees based on largely subjective measures, often without regard to meeting specific performance requirements. Moreover, the Department has begun vigorous enforcement of its safety orders using the powers of the Price-Anderson Act. Several contractors have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past years for failing to meet DOE safety orders.
4. Integration for Cleanup - Working out New Patterns of Operating Between Sites
During the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear weapons complex had a well-developed pattern of operating, with one site sending a component to another site for the next step in the production process. For example, the Fernald Site in Ohio would produce a uranium billet that would then be shipped to the Savannah River Site where it would be fabricated into a "target" and placed into a reactor; and the resulting plutonium would be sent to the Rocky Flats Site in Colorado for fabrication into a warhead pit, which would be shipped to the Pantex Plant in Amarillo Texas to be assembled into a new warhead. In the wake of the Cold War, the Department is now developing new ways of operating to perform cleanup and manage waste. The flow of waste and materials from cleanup are different from the flow of materials during the Cold War. We are now making substantial progress in establishing the flow of waste and materials from cleanup, in collaboration with regulators and other stakeholders. Let me give you a few examples.
First, the Department is constructing and operating a number of large waste management facilities. To avoid duplication in treating and disposing of similar wastes, the Department is seeking to share facilities with comparable capabilities. In FY 1999, we expect to have made decisions resulting from the "Waste Management" Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that will further clarify the number of low-level and mixed low-level waste treatment and disposal facilities that will be needed for DOE's wastes. These decisions are likely to result in some consolidation of waste disposal as well as development of capabilities that do not currently exist, capabilities that are needed to support closure of sites.
Second, the Department has been consolidating storage of certain special nuclear materials, such as plutonium. Plutonium weapons components from the Rocky Flats Site for example, have been shipped to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico or to the Pantex Plant in Texas. This consolidation has allowed the Department to greatly improve the cost-effectiveness of its security for the remaining plutonium materials at the Rocky Flats Site.
Third, the Department has proposed shipping certain plutonium oxides and residues (non-pit plutonium) from the Rocky Flats Site and the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) at the Hanford Site to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The FY 1999 budget request includes funding for development of interim storage and handing capability for this purpose, should a decision be made pursuant to National Environmental Policy Act reviews to consolidate storage at the Savannah River Site. The Department would use excess capacity at the new vault at the Savannah River Site for the Hanford plutonium, allowing PFP to be shutdown at least a decade earlier. DOE has proposed spending an additional $23 million in FY 1999 to modify the K-Reactor facility for storage of Rocky Flats non-pit plutonium, enabling closure of Rocky Flats four years earlier than originally planned. Combined with the direct request of $625 million in spending for the Rocky Flats Site, this request results in an increase in the funding devoted to accelerated Rocky Flats closure.
Finally, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, which is expected to begin accepting waste in 1998, provides one of the most compelling examples of shipping nuclear waste to greatly reduce costs and risks. Currently a large amount of transuranic (TRU) waste is being stored at more than two dozen sites around the United States. In many cases, this waste has been stored for decades with no place to go for disposal. With the opening of the WIPP, the Department will be able to reduce the number of sites where this type of waste is stored by shipping it to WIPP for disposal. Opening WIPP for disposal is critical to the closure of sites such as Rocky Flats, where the site cannot be cleaned up and closed unless the TRU waste is disposed at WIPP. We appreciate the subcommittee's continued support for this and other projects that serve a vital role in accelerating cleanup and closure.
We have obtained input from the Congress, the states, Tribal Nations and other stakeholders on these proposals and the implications of integration, and we are committed to continuing these discussions as we progress.
Our integration of the DOE waste complex will be critical to our efforts to reduce costs and raise productivity. Managing the entire national complex as one corporate entity also requires a willingness on the part of states to embrace the same view. We would greatly appreciate your help in fostering a sense of national purpose and common responsibility among constituent states. Each of our sites has comparative advantages, and we aim to make the most of them, working in concert with our host states.
5. Program Direction
In FY 1999, we are requesting $346 million for Program Direction, which is funded in the Defense Environmental Restoration and Waste Management account. This funding supports a variety of activities that are critical to improving the cost-effectiveness of the program. Because of the importance of the effectiveness of program direction activities, we have substantially reformed this account in the past few years, partly in response to Congressional concerns.
The Program Direction Account provides funding for Federal personnel salaries in headquarters and field offices, as well as necessary funding for technical and analytical support and other related activities that are vital to managing the EM program. This budget request provides for 2,429 Federal Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) located in ten major Operations/Field Offices and 440 FTE's in Headquarters. This staffing level reflects substantial reductions that are consistent with Strategic Alignment Initiative targets committed to by the Department..
Federal personnel perform essential tasks that would be inappropriate to have contractors
perform. For example, this funding supports:
- Formulating the annual budget, performing outyear budget projections and analyses, and
responding to Congressional inquiries;
- Analyzing and formulating national policy and planning;
- Direct management of contractors, including contract negotiations, oversight, and
- Representing the Department in its dealing with regulators, including negotiating
agreements and ensuring cost-effective compliance;
- Performing cross-site comparisons of costs and technical approach, such as lessons
learned between sites;
- Integrating activities between site (e.g., transportation and waste treatment planning); and
- Matching technology needs with emerging technologies, and encouraging deployment.
- Participating in interagency groups (e.g., on standard setting and Superfund reform).
We believe that the current staffing level is appropriate to carrying out these tasks, although we
are continuing to seek ways to improve the efficiency of our operations.
Responding in part to Congressional concerns about the size of the Federal workforce in
Headquarters, we have dramatically reduced the number of Federal employees at Headquarters.
The number has declined from 772 in July 1995, its highest level, to a level of 440 employees.
We acknowledge this reduction needed to be made, and we have made the reduction. In some
cases this has challenged us to get the work done with a reduced staffing level, but we believe
this staffing level is feasible with the right skill mix.
Similarly, we have reduced the budget for support services at Headquarters by 80 percent over a similar period of time. This reduction of over 300 Federal staff in Headquarters and 80 percent of our support services budget has occurred at a time when the overall EM budget has remained fairly level. We believe that these reductions have been entirely appropriate, allowing us to put more resources into the field, where the cleanup work gets done. However, we also believe that further reductions would be extremely disruptive to the EM Program. The programmatic consequences of further reductions could include less ability to carry out and monitor contract reform, reduced analysis of technology deployments and other cross-site issues, and further disruption of the appropriate skill mix.
STRATEGY FOR THE FUTURE
In 1995, the Administration's "Report of the Federal Facilities Policy Group" characterized the
EM program as being in its "adolescence." Since then, the EM program has matured with a
vision for completing cleanup at most sites by 2006. Focusing on this goal will not only
accelerate risk reduction, but will result in substantial cost reductions that can be applied to
cleanup at other sites. Without cleaning up and closing down sites where no future DOE mission
is planned, the long-term cost of the program would be billions of dollars more than under the
accelerated cleanup plan.
Our vision for 2006 is that, instead of operating at 53 sites in 21 states where cleanup is required,
cleanup will have been completed at 43 sites, and the EM program will be conducting cleanup at
only 10 sites in 8 states (this does not include cleanup associated with any transfers of
responsibility to EM from other DOE programs for "excess" facilities or materials.) Realizing
this vision will require a sustained national commitment as well as a number of other
- Sufficient funding;
- Use of world class technologies;
- Improved efficiency;
- National integration of operations;
- Resolving future land use issues with communities and regulators; and
- Resolving other site-specific issues.
We understand that these requirements are resolvable only with an enormous amount of work
and with the Department working cooperatively with Congress to make good on this national
The total FY 1999 Environmental Management budget request is $6,124 million, including $517
million for privatization authorization (See Tables 1 and 2). The appropriation will fund cleanup
in twenty-four states across the Nation, with ten states accounting for about 85 percent of the
total request. The FY 1999 budget request is organized into the following five primary
appropriations: Defense Facilities Closure Projects ($1,006 million); Defense Environmental
Restoration and Waste Management ($4,260 million), which includes site/project completion and
post 2006 program accounts; Defense Environmental Management Privatization ($517 million),
Non-Defense Environmental Management ($462 million) and the Uranium Enrichment
Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund (UE D&D) ($277 million).
This section presents a summary and highlights from the FY 1999 budget request for the Defense
Environmental Management appropriation. Sections A and B discuss the major sites funded
through the Defense appropriation accounts. Sections C and E of this appendix describe the
funding request for privatization projects and for science and technology, respectively.
A. FACILITIES CLOSURE PROJECTS ACCOUNT
In FY 1998, Congress substantially expanded the Defense Facilities Closure Projects Account to
include the Rocky Flats and Fernald Sites in a way that was consistent with the Department's
goal of completing cleanup at as many sites as possible by 2006. Our FY 1999 request of $1,006
million further expands this account to include additional sites where cleanup and closure is
targeted for completion by FY 2006, although the Department may still have a long-term
"stewardship" role providing for long-term surveillance and maintenance and groundwater
remediation at some sites. The sites funded by this account in the FY 1999 budget are Rocky
Flats Environmental Technology Site in Colorado and the Fernald Site, Mound Site, and
Ashtabula Site in Ohio. This Account also includes a small amount of funding for Battelle
Columbus Laboratory in Ohio, which receives most of its funding through Non-Defense
1. Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Center, Colorado
Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of the Defense Closure Account request supports accelerated
cleanup at the Rocky Flats Site, a facility located 16 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado. The
site was used to shape plutonium and uranium weapons components and for other defense-related production work. The cleanup poses significant challenges because of the large amounts
of plutonium and other compounds remaining in tanks and production lines in facilities, the
significant volumes of hazardous and radioactive wastes stored throughout the site, and
widespread contamination of soils, sediments, and groundwater.
The Department has already made significant progress at Rocky Flats in dramatically reducing
risks and building a solid foundation for completing cleanup and closure. For example, in FY
1997, Flats completed the drainage of some 1,600 gallons of plutonium solution from 9 tanks
and stabilized 2,100 gallons of acidic plutonium solutions. The last plutonium tank in Building
371 will be drained in FY 1998. In FY 1997, more than 40 offsite shipments of Special Nuclear
Materials were made last year, and initial deactivation of three buildings -- Buildings 779, 886,
and 444 -- was completed. In FY 1998, we plan to make the first shipments to WIPP for
permanent disposal. The shipment of all plutonium pits to Pantex in Texas is also scheduled to
be completed in FY 1998.
In FY 1995, the former contractor at Rocky Flats projected that the cleanup and stabilization
would not be completed until 2030 and would cost $18 billion. Thereafter, we developed a
baseline that projected cleanup completion in FY 2010 at a estimated cost of $7.3 billion. In
August 1997, Secretary Peña challenged the site personnel to do better and to complete the
cleanup by FY 2006. In response, we have identified a number of opportunities to accelerate that
timetable and reduce costs in the outyears accordingly, from the current baseline to $6.0 billion
as part of the accelerated cleanup strategy -- a $1.3 billion dollar savings. We are working very
hard to achieve this new goal. In order to achieve this goal, there are several critical things that
must be accomplished, as described below.
A number of assumptions are key to accelerating cleanup at Rocky Flats. First, we must stabilize
and remove certain plutonium metals and residues by FY 2002, two years earlier than scheduled
under the current baseline to realize significant reductions in security and nuclear safety costs.
To achieve this, we have requested an additional $23 million for facility modifications at the
Savannah River Site to provide for interim storage and handling capability of these Rocky Flats
materials, should a decision be made pursuant to NEPA to transfer these materials from the
Rocky Flats Site.
Second, we must ship large amounts of transuranic waste to the WIPP site. Third, we must
resolve certain safeguard issues associated with shipment of plutonium residues with appropriate
U.S. and international agencies. Finally, we need to obtain sufficient funding for Rocky Flats
and at other sites -- and ensure that all of the interrelated cleanup activities are integrated
If our FY 1999 request for Rocky Flats is fully funded, we are committed to completing
stabilization of the total inventory of 23,925 liters (6,300 gallons) of liquid plutonium residues
from five buildings and processing these and other solutions for safe storage. We will also
complete decommissioning of the Building 779 cluster, a pilot for facility decommissioning for
the site, bringing the facilities and structures that will be decommissioned to 14 percent of the
total. Largely as a result, the Rocky Flats budget for landlord activities can be reduced 7 percent
in FY 1999, or $28 million, compared to our FY 1998 appropriation.
The progress at Rocky Flats is also demonstrating the success of the Department's performance-based, integrating contractor strategy. Because award fees are based on meeting specific
performance and safety goals, the contractor has a strong incentive to make progress on cleanup.
We understand the importance of continuing to seek ways to accelerate cleanup at Rocky Flats to
reduce risk and long-term costs. We also understand the vital role of accelerated site closure to
the community where commercial and residential development along the Denver-Boulder
corridor has reached nearly to the fence line of Rocky Flats.
2. Fernald Environmental Management Project, Ohio
The cleanup activities at Fernald Environmental Management Project account for $275 million,
or 28 percent of the funding in the Defense Site Closure Account. The Fernald site,
encompassing approximately 1,050 acres near Cincinnati, produced uranium for nuclear weapons
from 1951 to the end of Cold War in 1989. Nearly forty years of uranium production for nuclear
weapons left the Fernald Site with soil and groundwater contamination, a large backlog of
wastes, including some unstable liquids, as well as stored nuclear materials such as depleted and
enriched uranium, and serious community relations problems, including lawsuits. Several years
of cleanup progress have included stabilization of liquid uranium solutions, off-site shipment of
low-level waste, and deactivation, decontamination and demolition of several large industrial
buildings at Fernald. In addition, site personnel have made substantial progress in working with
the community, including a successful Site-Specific Advisory Board, which has helped resolve a
variety of cleanup issues. The current baseline calls for cleanup to be completed by FY 2008, but
the Department is seeking enhanced efficiencies to complete work by FY 2006. Groundwater
remediation and long-term institutional controls will be necessary after active cleanup is
One of the critical breakthroughs for cleanup at the Fernald Site has been the construction and placement of waste, beginning in FY 1998, into an on-site disposal cell, being built above ground to reduce the potential for undetected leaks. Site personnel realized that such a disposal cell would be required for some waste to keep disposal costs attainable, and the community realized constructing it at the Fernald site would be more equitable than demanding that all wastes be disposed of off-site in other states. With this disposal cell available, our FY 1999 budget request is intended partly to fund accelerated disposal of contaminated soil and debris resulting from cleanup and building demolition. Also in FY 1999, Fernald personnel expect to begin excavating, treating, and shipping radioactive residue from the Waste Pits to an off-site disposal facility. Finally, Fernald personnel will continue the process of razing deactivated and decontaminated industrial buildings. They will also initiate demolition of Plant 3 and Plant 5 complexes, resulting in outyear reductions in mortgage and landlord costs.
3. Mound Plant, Ohio
Our FY 1999 request for the Defense Closure Fund Account includes about $90 million for the
cleanup of the Mound Site, newly renamed the Miamisburg Environmental Management Project
-- a 306-acre facility in Miamisburg, Ohio, used for tritium and plutonium-238 operations. We
expect to complete cleanup of the surplus portions of the facility by 2005.
As an integral part of the cleanup plan, we have negotiated an agreement to transfer the Site to
the Miamisburg Mound Community Development Corporation as cleanup is completed. By the
end of FY 1999, cleanup of approximately 70 percent of the 214 contaminated release sites and
27 percent of the facilities will be completed. Key activities in FY 1999 include completing safe
shutdown of key tritium facilities, eliminating the largest potential source of off-site
contamination. This shutdown of the tritium facilities has been made possible by the off-site
shipment of all remaining bulk tritium in FY 1998.
B. DEFENSE ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION AND WASTE MANAGEMENT
The $4,260 million requested for the Defense Environmental Restoration and Waste
Management appropriation account represents 70 percent of the total Environmental
Management budget request and, as such, comprises the heart of Environmental Management
mission activities. As discussed earlier, the account has been divided into two new program
accounts that emphasize completion of cleanup, specifically Site/Project Completion and Post
2006 Completion accounts. The major sites funded in this account are discussed below.
The Defense Environmental Restoration and Waste Management account also includes all
funding for Program Direction and about 90 percent of the funding for Office of Science and
1. Savannah River Site, South Carolina
The Savannah River Site, a 300-square mile complex in South Carolina, would receive 40
percent of its $1,222 million total EM budget from the Site/Project Completion account and the
remaining amount from the Post-2006 Completion account.
The primary projects in the Site/Project Completion account at the Savannah River Site involve
nuclear materials stabilization. These projects support a goal to consolidate and stabilize all
spent nuclear fuel and other nuclear materials as necessary to prepare them for permanent
disposal in a federal repository and to shut down stabilization facilities by FY 2005, resulting in
significant reductions in risk and long-term costs. Projects include converting "at risk" nuclear
materials at the Savannah River Site into stable forms for long-term storage using F-canyons and
supporting facilities and stabilizing "at risk" nuclear materials and spent fuel from H-Area. In
addition, two candidate technologies are being evaluated that would prepare intact spent fuel for
Activities to be accomplished in FY 1999 include continued processing of nuclear materials and
preparing for storage of plutonium-bearing materials from the Rocky Flats Site, pending
decisions made under NEPA. As discussed in the Rocky Flats Site closure discussion, FY 1999
funding for modification of the K-reactor at the Savannah River Site (the Actinide Packaging
Facility Project) is critical for the accelerated closure of the Rocky Flats Site.
The majority of EM work at the Savannah River Site will be completed after FY 2006. Projects
in the Post-2006 Completion Account focus on long-term projects such as vitrification and safe
storage of high-level waste and a number of long-term waste management and environmental
restoration projects. We are not waiting, however, to perform this long-term work. For example,
this year the Savannah River Site workers will close another storage tank in the tank farm and
produce up to 200 canisters of vitrified waste in the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF),
treating over 4000 cubic meters of high-level waste.
The Savannah River Site has been receiving and storing spent nuclear fuel from domestic and
foreign research reactors in support of national and international non-proliferation goals. Receipt
and storage of the spent nuclear fuel will continue at L-Reactor and the Receiving Basin for
Offsite Fuel. We will also continue to eliminate our legacy of mixed and low-level waste at the
site through continued operation of the Consolidated Incinerator Facility and by beginning
shipments of transuranic waste to WIPP beginning in FY 1999.
Finally, scientists and engineers at the Savannah River Site have been collaborating to develop a
cost-effective path forward for some of the spent fuel through research and development of new
technologies. This work is helping to address one of our most daunting problems: how to
manage spent nuclear fuel and other nuclear materials without chemical separations. In response,
the Office of Nuclear Material and Facility Stabilization has invested in a program that has
already made significant progress. This Alternative Technology Program is providing the basis
for technology selection planned for this fall that will ultimately prepare the aluminum-based
spent nuclear fuel for geologic disposal. For example, the Department has completed criticality
analyses for spent fuel as configured in a co-disposal canister within the disposal package.
Engineers at the Savannah River Site have also developed a furnace to demonstrate the "melt-and-dilute" process for a full scale aluminum spent fuel element. As other countries begin to
address their similar problems, these new U.S.-born technologies will be available to help.
We are disappointed, however, with the lack of performance of the in-tank precipitation process intended to separate the low-activity fraction from the high-activity fractions of waste in the tanks. If this can be done, it would significantly reduce the volume of the high-level waste that needs to be vitrified. But we have not been able to prevent the buildup of benzene in the tank.
This problem with the technology has caused us to convene a panel of independent experts to
advise us on possible alternatives.
2. Hanford Site, Washington
The Hanford Site in Washington is clearly one of our greatest cleanup challenges. We have had
enormous success in completing cleanup, reducing risks and closing facilities. We have also
experienced some disappointing setbacks. This mix of tremendous progress and extraordinary
technical challenges is reflected in the FY 1999 budget, which is funded partially from the
Project/Site Completion Account (35 percent of the Hanford budget request) and partially (65
percent) from the Post-2006 Completion Account.
The portion of Hanford budget request ($350 million) in the Site/Project Completion account
makes up nearly a third of the request for this account. Although a substantial amount of the
cleanup work will remain after FY 2006 at this extraordinarily complex 560-square mile site, the
thousands of dedicated workers at the Hanford Site have already accomplished a large amount of
cleanup and have planned a great deal more work that will be completed by FY 2006 to reduce
risks and restore the environment. The projects that have been completed or will be completed
by FY 2006 include projects to reduce urgent risks by stabilizing and improving storage of
nuclear materials and spent nuclear fuel; deactivate excess facilities, bringing down dramatically
the costs of safely maintaining these facilities; and clean up contaminated soil and buildings and
Perhaps the most dramatic accomplishment of the past year at Hanford was the deactivation of
the PUREX facility. This required several years of investment to remove nuclear materials,
including 4.5 kilograms of plutonium, allowing safety systems to be shut down, and utility and
effluent systems to be isolated. The PUREX shutdown project actually included deactivation of
75 buildings. All of the PUREX milestones required for the Tri-Party Agreement were
completed on or ahead of schedule. As a result of this effort, the facility is in a low-cost
surveillance and maintenance mode pending final disposition, reducing annual surveillance and
maintenance costs from $34 million in FY 1996 to $1 million in FY 1999. The success at
PUREX serves as a model for other deactivation and mortgage reduction efforts at Hanford and
at other sites, such as the Rocky Flats and Savannah River.
During FY 1997, Hanford personnel deactivated large portions of the B Plant (complete
deactivation is expected in FY 1998), transferred intensely radioactive cesium capsules to the
200 area for safe storage, and continued soil remediation at dozens of sites at Hanford. Most of
the contaminated soil and debris from environmental restoration at Hanford is being disposed of
at the newly constructed Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, bringing the total amount
of waste disposed to date to about 250,000 cubic meters.
Projects planned for completion by FY 2006 include stabilization of the surplus plutonium stored
in the Plutonium Finishing Plant; stabilization of 2,100 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel now
stored in K Basins, within a quarter mile of the Columbia River, and placement of the stabilized
fuel into dry storage; removal of highly radioactive material from Buildings 324 and 327, and
spent nuclear fuel from the T-Plant; deactivation of K-Basins; and the start of deactivation of the
Plutonium Finishing Plant, following the successful accelerated deactivation of the PUREX Plant
in FY 1997 and N-Area and B-Plant in FY 1998.
There will be significant progress toward these ends by FY 1999. The Department will begin
stabilization of plutonium and installation of the Plutonium Stabilization and Packaging System
in the Plutonium Finishing Plant. Activities needed to support the start of spent nuclear fuel
removal from K Basins will continue. The Liquid Handling Facility will be shutdown in FY
We must acknowledge that we have experienced disappointing setbacks in the Hanford cleanup
during the past year, including a chemical explosion at the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) and
a significant delay in the Hanford Spent Fuel Project which is removing spent fuel from the K-Basins along the Columbia River. In the wake of the PFP incident, we have improved our
emergency response capability, and have now developed an accelerated baseline for stabilizing
and removing hazardous chemicals from the PFP and for deactivating the facility. In addition,
we are working aggressively to resolve the cost and schedule problems with the Spent Fuel
Project to get the project back on track.
Despite these setbacks, we are moving forward with the long-term goal of cleaning up the
Hanford site and making it available for community reuse or conservation based on a community
involvement process appropriate to the large scale of the operation. For example, we are now
evaluating issues associated with transferring the Wahluke Slope along the Columbia River in a
manner that is protective of the river and responsive to community needs.
The long-term projects in Post-2006 Completion Account for the Hanford Site include projects to retrieve and immobilize high-level waste from tanks (more than 80 percent of high-level waste activities will remain after FY 2006); prepare transuranic and mixed and low-level waste for final disposal; and complete cleanup of complex contamination areas, including cleanup of the 100, 200, and 300 Areas. Of the $652 million requested in FY 1999 Hanford Site in the Post 2006 Completion account, more than 40 percent would fund high-level waste activities, including support activities for the Tank Waste Remediation System (TWRS) privatization; in FY 1999, we will conduct process testing on actual tank waste and begin to define Phase 2 requirements for TWRS. FY 1999 funds will also support several evaporator campaigns that will reduce the volume of high-level waste in the tanks by up to 1.5 million gallons, the treatment and preparation of over 600 cubic meters of transuranic waste for shipment to WIPP, and the disposal of over 200,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil in the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.
3. Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Idaho
The $101 million for projects in the Site/Project Completion Account at the Idaho National
Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) focus on completing cleanup at several
major remediation areas and completing treatment and final disposal of several waste streams.
By FY 2006, our goal is to complete remediation of Pit 9 and three of the eight Waste Area
Groups as well as finalize all Records of Decisions for remediation work; cease all treatment of
mixed low-level waste at the Waste Experimental Reduction Facility, as operations begin at the
Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility; ship at least 10,600 cubic meters of transuranic
waste (TRU) to WIPP; completely eliminate the backlog of mixed low-level and low-level
waste; and deactivate all seven surplus facilities currently in the deactivation program.
INEEL is scheduled to be one of the first sites to ship TRU waste to WIPP in FY 1998. By the
end of FY 1999, approximately 823 cubic meters will be shipped to WIPP for final disposal. The
Rover facility, from which highly enriched uranium was removed in FY 1997, will be
deactivated in FY 1998; two additional facilities will be deactivated in FY 1999 and deactivation
project designs for the remaining four facilities will be completed. The personnel at INEEL will
continue to make progress in eliminating the backlog of mixed low-level and low-level wastes in
FY 1998 and FY 1999 through treating over 12,000 cubic meters and disposing of almost over
3,600 cubic meters of waste.
One of the most complex challenges at INEEL is the remediation of buried wastes, such as
remediation of the Radioactive Waste Management Complex, of which the Pit 9 site is a part.
The Pit 9 project is experiencing major technical and managerial difficulties that are associated
with the subcontractor, Lockheed Martin Advanced Environmental Systems (LMAES), and its
ability to implement the terms and conditions of the fixed-price contract. However, under the
terms of the Pit 9 subcontract, LMAES bears responsibility for performance, including design of
the project, management of the construction and fabrication of the project systems.
The $311 million request for the Post-2006 Completion Account represents three-quarters of the
funding requested for INEEL, reflecting the significant long-term challenges facing the site,
including over 9,000 cubic meters of high-level waste and 65,000 cubic meters of transuranic
waste that must be prepared for disposal; the 5 Waste Areas Groups composed of 508
contaminated release sites; and the site's ongoing responsibilities for safe storage of spent
nuclear fuel, including Naval Reactors and foreign fuels.
Key activities funded in FY 1999 in the Post-2006 Completion Account include design and
initial construction work for the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, a privatization
project intended to develop treatment for transuranic and alpha-low level waste (waste that
contains long-lived radio-nuclides at levels slightly below transuranic waste); completion of
NEPA analysis and initial design work for new high-level waste treatment and immobilization
facilities; and placement of 458 cubic meters of particularly vulnerable spent nuclear fuel, now in
storage pools, into safe storage. As the lead site for coordinating the National Spent Fuel
program, the program focuses on final disposition of spent nuclear fuel throughout the DOE
complex and, in FY 1999, plans to complete the design of a standardized spent fuel canister and
basket transportation system. INEEL is also the lead site for the National Low-level Waste
program, which provides technical services to state personnel responsible for implementing the
commercial low-level waste compacts.
4. Oak Ridge Reservation and Y-12 Plant, Tennessee
The Oak Ridge Reservation is comprised of three facilities -- the Y-12 Plant, the East Tennessee
Technology Park (ETTP) (formerly K-25 uranium enrichment facility), and the Oak Ridge
National Laboratory (which is funded in the Non-Defense account). All funding for
environmental management activities for the Reservation is included in the Post-2006
Completion Account. The funding for EM work at the Oak Ridge sites is needed to: stabilize
inactive waste disposal sites and address off-site contamination, including the Bear Creek Valley
Hotspots and the Atomic City Auto Parts sites; continue operation of the Toxic Substances
Control Act (TSCA) incinerator, and ship spent nuclear fuel off-site to the Savannah River and
Idaho sites. In FY 1998, workers at the Reservation will also assist other sites in treating mixed
waste by issuing and managing a private sector procurement for treatment services for a broad
spectrum of waste types, which will be available to all DOE sites.
5. Waste Isolation Pilot Project, New Mexico
Startup of the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) is the critical element for the DOE complex
for disposal of stored transuranic (TRU) waste. During its planned 35-year disposal phase --
with the start of operations (targeted to begin in FY 1998 and end in FY 2033) -- the WIPP will
accept waste from 10 major DOE sites and 15 small quantity sites and, as such, is critical to the
Department's closure strategy at a number of sites, such as its strategy to accelerate closure at
WIPP is expected to be certified in the spring of 1998 by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency that it is in compliance with disposal regulations and to begin accepting waste in May
1998. The first sites scheduled to begin shipments of non-mixed TRU waste are Los Alamos,
Rocky Flats, and INEEL. The FY 1999 funding request supports an increase in the amount of
waste shipped to WIPP -- up to 10 to 12 shipments of contact-handled waste per week.
Moreover, the number of sites shipping to WIPP will be expanded to include the Savannah River
Site, Mound Site, and a few small-quantity sites. Shipments are also possible from Argonne
The WIPP program also funds a variety of institutional programs that provide economic
assistance and operational oversight for affected governments and stakeholder groups. The
funding request for FY 1998 includes $20.6 million for New Mexico Impact Assistance, as
required by the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act of 1996, and additional funds for cooperative
agreements with New Mexico Emergency Response, Indian Tribes, and Southern States Energy
Board and others.
6. Nevada Test Site, Nevada
The Post-2006 Completion Account includes $74 million for cleanup and waste management
activities at the Nevada Test Site, as well as funds to remediate nine other inactive sites or
facilities contaminated by past DOE nuclear testing in four other states (Alaska, Colorado,
Mississippi, and New Mexico). The Nevada Test Site is located 65 miles from Las Vegas and
encompasses 1,350 square miles, an area roughly the size of Rhode Island. In addition to the
cleanup of radioactive contamination resulting from above- and below-ground testing of nuclear
weapons and management of its on-site waste, Nevada Test Site plays a crucial role for other
DOE sites as one of the major low-level waste disposal facilities in the DOE complex. By FY
2006, DOE expects to have completed restoration of the surface area of off-site facilities, while
continuing institutional controls and groundwater monitoring; complete shipments of transuranic
waste to WIPP by FY 2003; and continue to operate low-level disposal facilities for the DOE
In FY 1999, DOE expects to have completed cleanup of 32 percent, or 446 contaminated release
sites; to dispose of more than 37,000 cubic meters of low-level waste, more than half of which is
from other sites; and to characterize and package 150 cubic meters, or almost 25 percent of its
transuranic waste for shipment to WIPP for disposal.
7. Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico
The Department expects to have completed EM cleanup projects at Los Alamos by 2015 and to
have all work except for a few complex contaminated sites and legacy transuranic waste
completed by FY 2006. The request for Los Alamos represents almost a 40 percent decrease
from the FY 1998 appropriation. Most of this change is due to the transfer of responsibility for
wastes generated by ongoing operations to Defense Programs in FY 1999, including operation of
the low-level waste disposal facility at Los Alamos. The FY 1999 Defense Programs request
includes funds for these activities.
A significant portion of the requested funding in FY 1999 supports retrieval of earthen-covered
and buried transuranic waste, and its characterization, certification, and shipment to WIPP for
disposal. Los Alamos will be one of the first sites to ship waste to WIPP when the site opens in
FY 1998. In fact, the WIPP certification rule expected to be promulgated in FY 1998 by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically includes EPA approval of the
characterization program at Los Alamos for certain transuranic wastes. In FY 1999, retrieval,
preparation, and shipment of transuranic waste to WIPP will continue, with an estimated 67
cubic meters scheduled for shipment in that year.
Through FY 1997, about 64 percent of the more than 2,000 contaminated release sites at Los
Alamos have been closed out. DOE plans to close twenty-four more in FY 1998 and an
additional twenty in FY 1999. Many of the more complex sites still must be evaluated.
E. DEFENSE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PRIVATIZATION ACCOUNT
EM continues to increase private sector involvement to reduce risks and costs. Privatization as
used in this context refers to a particular method of financing, contracting and risk-sharing with
the private sector for goods and services. In using privatization, EM is relying on market forces
to set prices through competition for fixed-price contracts.
The $517 million request for the Privatization Account supports four ongoing projects and one project -- transportation for Remote-Handled TRU Waste -- that is new this year. These projects are:
- The Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility, INEEL
- Spent Nuclear Fuel Dry/Storage, INEEL
- EM Waste Disposal Facility, Oak Ridge Reservation
- Remote-Handled TRU Transportation, WIPP, and
- Hanford Tanks - Phase 1, Hanford Site
F. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The primary focus for our research and development work in EM is our Office of Science and
Technology (S&T). This Office, previously called "Technology Development," includes both
applied and basic research efforts, as well as research on risk analysis. The budget request for
this office is $219 million for FY 1999, almost 90 percent of which is funded by the Defense
Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Account and the remainder by the Non-Defense Account.
This request is a reduction from FY 1998 ($274.3 million) and an even greater reduction from
the budget for this program two years ago -- $390 million (5 percent of the EM budget).
Nonetheless, we are confident that this is an appropriate level of investment in this program for
FY 1999, given the significant efficiency improvements that have been achieved and are
planned; these include the use of technology focus areas to coordinate with sites, and the use of
competitive bid process to develop and deploy technologies. Moreover, we measure our
commitment by results produced, not just money spent. Over the past six months, we have
undertaken a fundamental reform of the Technology Development program in order to
emphasize the deployment of technologies already developed. We consider the FY 1999 request
necessary to sustain the necessary technology development while also facilitating technology
deployment. We also believe strongly that this investment should not be reduced below our
Since its inception, this program has sponsored over 700 technologies. The program has now
reached a pivotal point where over 200 of these technologies are ready for use and can make real
contributions to cleanup activities. The FY 1999 budget request will support continued
development of another 250 technologies that are in the late stages of development and expected
to be ready for field deployment in the next few years, if funding is sustained. Through FY
1997, more than 140 S&T-sponsored technologies have been used at least 260 times in cleanup
projects. In FY 1998, personnel at field offices expect to use new technology a minimum of 49
times and are targeting 60 deployments in FY 1999. The need for better technologies, however,
is still strong. Our field personnel have identified more than 500 environmental problems for
which improved technology is still needed.
As part of our plan to accelerate cleanup and close as many sites as possible, field office
personnel have been asked to identify specific technology needs and opportunities for deploying
newly developed technologies. Thus far, our field office staff have identified more than 500
technology needs as part of the accelerated cleanup plan process. Obviously, we cannot fund all
technology development and deployment needs simultaneously. Our funding priorities are
focused on problems where the greatest cost savings opportunities exist and where the risk of
failure using existing technologies is greatest. This priority-setting will be vital to our success
because we know that more than one-third of the Project Baseline Summaries (PBS) indicate a
need for improved technologies. As a result of this planning process with the PBS's, our field
office personnel have committed to deploying new technologies as they become available.
We are also investing in basic science. At the direction of Congress and in response to
recommendations from the National Academy of Science and the Galvin Commission, we are
cooperating with DOE's Office of Energy Research to support research targeting the most
intractable of these problems. We are encouraged at the recent improvements in this program
and are continuing our efforts to improve management so that the full potential of investments in
new technology can be realized.
The bottom line will be measured by widespread deployment of improved technologies. We are
taking a number of steps to accelerate widespread use of improved technologies, as established in
an aggressive 10-Point Action Plan implemented in July 1997:
- A corporate team consisting of senior Headquarters and field managers now oversee
programmatic and investment decisions in technology development;
- EM has implemented a corporate performance measure that spreads the responsibility for
technology deployment across the developer and user programs;
- Personnel at field offices are in the process of developing Site-Specific Deployment
Plans, expected to be complete in May, that build alternative technology into their near-term cleanup plans, estimate cost avoidance, and identify any impediments to
- EM has also begun a major integration effort that provides a systems engineering-based
mechanism that connects technology activities to facility problems; and
- The S&T program is integrating the whole spectrum of research and development and
deployment. This includes basic research through deployment. To do this, S&T is
establishing mechanisms to ensure its investments are customer driven, focus on major
cost centers, and reduce the highest technological risk in the critical path to site closure.
S&T has initiated an evaluation by an independent entity to identify opportunities for
improvements and streamlining S&T's core processes.
New technologies resulting from EM investments are already making possible activities that only
recently were not possible. For example:
- For the first time, we now have the capability to safely and remotely analyze and retrieve
waste from the interior of high-level waste tanks. We demonstrated this last year with the
Oak Ridge Gunite Tanks using several technologies to dislodge and remove waste from
tanks, including a remotely operated robotic arm, a robotic vehicle, and a waste
dislodging and conveyance tool.
- Our deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) technologies have been successfully
proven as part of large-scale demonstration projects at some of the first nuclear reactors
built in the world during the Manhattan project (e.g., Hanford's C Reactor) and are now
available to be used at other similar facilities across the complex and at commercial
- At the Fernald Site, a uranium production site not normally associated with research, personnel developed an extraordinarily powerful hand-held cutting torch that uses liquid oxygen and gasoline, which can cut through metal coated with rust and dirt.
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