Abraham Plans Accelerated Cleanup at Former Nuclear Weapons Sites
(New plan would reduce risks to health, safety and environment) (1060)
U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham has announced a new
accelerated cleanup plan for the nation's Cold War era nuclear weapons
According to a January 31 press release, Abraham described how the
Environmental Management plan creates a new $800 million "Expedited
Cleanup Account" for the sites of the former nuclear weapons plants.
The plan is part of the agency's $6,700 million request for basic
cleanup at all sites that was released as part of the Bush
administration's fiscal year 2003 budget request on February 4.
Abraham, speaking during a visit to the Energy Department's cleanup
project in Fernald, Ohio, said the old plan for cleaning up the Cold
War nuclear sites called for a timetable of about 70 years to
complete, at a cost of $300,000 million.
He said a top-to-bottom review of the program led to the new plan
"that is targeted to swiftly clean up serious problems at sites and
also reduce the risks to human health, safety and the environment."
The new plan emphasizes three goals:
-- eliminate significant health and safety risks as soon as possible;
-- review remaining risks on a case-by-case basis working with state
and local officials;
-- and streamline cleanup so current funding will go to accomplishing
real cleanup progress rather than routine maintenance and other
Secretary Abraham's complete remarks can be found at the following Web
Following is the text of the press release:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
January 31, 2002
SECRETARY OF ENERGY ABRAHAM PREVIEWS NEW ACCELERATED CLEANUP
PLAN FOR FORMER COLD WAR NUCLEAR WEAPON PRODUCTION SITES
Department's Budget Creates New $800 Million 'Expedited Cleanup
FERNALD, OHIO - In a visit to the Department of Energy's Fernald, Ohio
cleanup project, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham today
previewed the Department's new accelerated cleanup plan for the sites
of former nuclear weapon plants that were crucial to winning the Cold
War. The Environmental Management plan creates a new $800 million
"Expedited Cleanup Account" to be used by participating sites and is
part of the overall program's $6.7 billion request for basic cleanup
at all sites that will be released with the entire DOE FY03 Budget
request next Monday.
"When I took office, I was presented with the old plan for cleaning up
the Department's Cold War nuclear sites, which called for a timetable
of some 70 years to complete and at a cost of $300 billion," Abraham
said. "That is not good enough for me, and I doubt it is good enough
for anyone who lives near these sites."
"So last year I called for a top-to-bottom review of the program,
which has been recently completed. The result is this new plan that is
targeted to swiftly clean up serious problems at sites and also reduce
the risks to human health, safety and the environment," Abraham said.
The new proposal emphasizes three basic goals: eliminate significant
health and safety risks as soon as possible, review remaining risks on
a case-by-case basis working with state and local officials and
develop strategies for remediation, and streamline cleanup so current
funding will go instead to accomplishing real cleanup progress, rather
than routine maintenance and other non-cleanup projects.
"This initial $800 million Expedited Cleanup Account represents our
current estimate of the number of sites likely to need new cleanup
agreements this year. However, we are ready to expand this account
with more money as additional sites move to expedited schedules,"
Under the proposal, to have access to the Expedited Cleanup Account, a
site and DOE will have to reach an agreement on an expedited schedule
that shows measurable gains in addressing cleanup and important risks.
A site that agrees to participate in the new expedited cleanup plan
will receive more resources in the near term than in previous years.
After the level of funding ramps up at one of these sites and problems
are addressed, the level of funding will ramp back down. Once an
agreement is reached there will be a roadmap for activity and budgets
through Fiscal Year 2008, leading to predictable funding levels which
the Department and the White House will consent to submit to Congress
for the entire period of these agreements.
"By cleaning up serious problems more quickly under the new plan, our
communities will be cleaner and safer," Abraham said. "The
Environmental Management Program will be stronger and more effective
in its mission of reducing health risks and expediting the
environmental restoration of the nation's nuclear sites. And there is
an extra benefit to the taxpayers, because over the long run, the new
plan will yield substantial savings on overhead, maintenance and
security costs which the program estimates to account for two-thirds
of the overall EM budget."
"Working with the states and the regulatory agencies, DOE is proposing
a new way of doing business, leading to greater accountability,
responsibility, and opportunities for both the Department and the
States," Abraham said.
"Promoting compliance and ensuring that key milestones are met must be
our focus. In some instances, we will set aside funds in escrow, not
to be released until those milestones are met. And if they are not,
then that money will be put toward cleanup and making things right."
"Some will say the new approach won't work. But those who want to
continue with business as usual will be consigning their sites and
communities to a slower cleanup of the most serious health and safety
risks," Abraham said. "Years ago, skeptics predicted that the cleanup
of the Department's Rocky Flats site would take 65 years and cost more
than $36 billion. Through innovative reforms, like those embraced in
our plan, the Rocky Flats site will be cleaned up and closed 55 years
ahead of schedule in 2006 for about $7 billion - saving taxpayers
nearly $29 billion."
Details of the Environmental Management's accelerated cleanup plan
will be released following the presentation of the Department's Fiscal
Year 2003 Budget on Monday, February 4.
Secretary Abraham's remarks from today's event will be available at
the Department of Energy web site,
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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