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Copyright 2000 Federal News Service, Inc.  
Federal News Service

March 21, 2000, Tuesday


LENGTH: 9489 words


 Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you to discuss the Department of Energy's Environmental Management (EM) program and its Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 budget request.

Our budget request of $6.318 billion for FY 2001 for the EM program will enable the Department to continue our progress cleaning up our sites. The request seeks $5.803 billion in traditional budget authority and $515 million in budget authority to support privatization projects. This is a total increase of approximately $440 million over this year's current appropriation.

This level of funding in our request supports critical safety programs for the protection of workers who carry out cleanup activities across the DOE complex; accelerates cleanup at key sites; enables the Department to be substantially in compliance with legal agreements and requirements; responds to Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board recommendations; addresses significant safety risks; and continues efforts to develop alternative technologies that can reduce the cost and schedule of cleanup. The request keeps us on track with meeting accelerated closure schedules at Rocky Flats in Colorado, and at the Mound and Fernald sites in Ohio. We will be able to continue progress at all sites, including treatment and disposal of nuclear waste and safe management of nuclear materials. The FY 2001 request for the EM program represents a significant increase over the FY 2000 appropriation, both in traditional budget authority and in funding for privatization projects. We are requesting an additional $113 million in traditional budget authority and $327 million more for privatization, an eight percent increase overall. These additional funds will enable the Department to make more progress in FY 2001 - more shipments of transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), accelerated cleanup at the Paducah and Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plants, and the completion of EM cleanup at Argonne National Laboratory-West in Idaho, Monticello Remedial Action Project in Utah, and Grand Junction Site in Colorado. With this request we will also be able to maintain the schedule for the design, construction, and operation of a privatized vitrification plant for high-level nuclear waste at the Hanford site in Washington. This waste is currently in underground storage tanks near the Columbia River.


Before discussing our FY 2001 budget request, I would like to provide an overview of our program and describe some of the actions I have taken since being confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management in July 1999, as well as highlight some of our accomplishments in the past year and our planned achievements for the current fiscal year.


The Environmental Management program is responsible for managing and cleaning up the environmental legacy of the nation's nuclear weapons program and government-sponsored nuclear energy research. If there is one common theme at all of the very diverse facilities across the country where the EM program is conducting cleanup, it is the challenge presented by the magnitude and complexity of the task we face in managing large volumes of nuclear wastes, safeguarding materials that could be used in nuclear weapons, and remediating extensive surface and groundwater contamination.

In total, we are responsible for addressing an estimated 1.7 trillion gallons of contaminated groundwater and 40 million cubic meters of contaminated soil and debris. EM is responsible for safely storing and guarding more than 18 metric tons of weapons-usable plutonium, enough for hundreds of nuclear weapons. Our inventory includes over two thousand tons of intensely radioactive spent nuclear fuel, some of which is corroding. EM is also responsible for storage, treatment, and disposal of radioactive and hazardous waste, including over 340,000 cubic meters of high-level waste stored at the Hanford, Idaho, New York and Savannah River sites; and for deactivation and decommissioning of about 4,000 facilities that are no longer needed to support the Department's mission. In addition, the EM program also has responsibility for critical nuclear non-proliferation programs to accept and safely manage spent nuclear fuel from foreign research reactors that contains weapons-usable highly enriched uranium.

Completing the cleanup of the legacy from nuclear weapons production will meet our legal and moral obligation to those communities and states that supported our national defense effort and helped win both the Second World War and the Cold War. Completing this cleanup will allow us to turn lands and facilities to other public uses and allow the Department to focus on its science, security, and energy missions.


The actual tasks of remediating contamination and storing, treating, and disposing of wastes are performed exclusively in the field, at the sites where the contamination and wastes are located. The role of Headquarters is to provide program guidance and management as to how this work will be conducted. I have established several management principles and priorities that will guide the program under my leadership. They are: Safety first; Reduce risks; Meet our commitments; Accelerate site cleanup and project completion; Strengthen project management; Integrate nuclear waste and materials management and operations to take advantage of site capabilities across the DOE complex; Build public confidence and involve stakeholders in our cleanup decisions and actions; Develop an effective long-term stewardship program -- at many sites after cleanup is completed the Department will retain responsibilities for long-term monitoring and maintenance; and Apply the best science and technology to solve technical problems and reduce costs.

The EM Headquarters office has recently been organized to implement these principles and better align the EM program with our goals. The new structure groups management of closure sites together to ensure the lessons learned about facilitating closure are shared across the complex. It also establishes specific organizations focused on safety, project management, and long-term stewardship, as well as science and technology and cross-complex integration. The re-organization, formally in place last November, provides stability to an organization that had seen significant personnel reductions in the past few years and establishes permanent managers and staff throughout the organization.

We will continue to work towards cleaning up as many of the remaining contaminated sites as possible by 2006, safely and cost-effectively. By working toward this goal, we 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 overhead costs for activities such as site security, facility operations, personnel, and safety. Our budget request, and our organization in Headquarters, is now structured to emphasize site closure, and site/project completion at our larger sites and our sites with continuing missions.


I am pleased to report that our program has produced substantial cleanup results at contaminated nuclear facilities around the country. Our accomplishments reflect the program's continued commitment to performance-based management, establishing stretch goals and performance measures that demonstrate our progress in on-the-ground environmental cleanup and meeting our goals. For example: The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) opened and began disposal operations in March 1999. Since its opening through November 1999, 44 shipments of transuranic waste have been sent to WIPP for disposal from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Rocky Flats, and Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). We expect that the Hanford and Savannah River sites will begin shipping waste to WIPP in FY 2000. We continued to successfully operate two high-level waste vitrification facilities in South Carolina and at West Valley in New York where last year we produced 248 canisters of vitrified high-level waste. In FY 2000, we expect to produce at least 200 more canisters at the Savannah River Site facility, bringing the total canisters poured at this facility to more than 900 canisters since the facility began operating in 1996. We will vitrify five canisters of waste at West Valley. At Rocky Flats, we continued to make great strides towards meeting our 2006 closure goal, including completing shipments of plutonium pits to the Pantex Plant in Texas and shipments of highly enriched uranium to the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge Tennessee. In addition, we demolished a plutonium research facility and made 12 shipments of transuranic waste to WIPP. EM completed its cleanup work at three more sites in FY 1999 and will clean up two more sites by the end of FY 2000. This will bring the number of completed sites to 71, with 42 sites remaining.

- At the Hanford Site, we have made significant progress in reducing the urgent risks associated with the 177 underground high-level waste tanks at the Hanford site, some of which are known to have leaked to the surrounding soils threatening groundwater and the nearby Columbia River. We resolved high priority safety issues in several tanks, such as the generation of high heat in one tank and a rise in the surface level in another. We are also interim stabilizing single-shell tanks, transferring free liquids in the tanks to more secure double-shelled tanks. We have begun pumping free liquids from six single-shelled tanks, meeting all milestones in the Consent Decree with the State of Washington. Also at Hanford, we continue stabilization activities to reduce the risks posed by unstable plutonium materials. In addition, in August 2000 we expect to make a decision on whether to authorize the construction of the privatized facility to vitrify the liquid tank waste. At Weldon Spring in Missouri, we finished treatment of waste pit sludge in the Chemical Stabilization and Solidification Facility in FY 1999, with about 180,000 cubic yards of treated sludge placed in the disposal facility, and the treatment facility was decommissioned. We plan to complete waste placement in the 1.5 million cubic yard capacity disposal facility in FY 2000, with only the completion of the facility cover remaining. At INEEL, we completed construction of a dry storage facility for the Three Mile Island spent nuclear fuel and began transfer of the fuel to the facility. We also made four shipments of transuranic waste to WIPP, meeting a major milestone in the settlement agreement with the State of Idaho, signed in October 1995. In addition, we expect to begin construction on the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment facility in FY 2000. In FY 1999, we disposed of 49,000 cubic meters of low-level waste, 14,000 cubic meters of mixed low-level waste, and 282 cubic meters of transuranic waste at disposal facilities at DOE sites and at commercial disposal facilities. At the Mound Plant in Miamisburg Ohio, we continue progress toward the 2004 closure goal. In FY 1999, we completed shipment of all remaining legacy low-level and mixed low-level waste from the site. By the end of FY 2000, we expect to complete the removal of all remaining nuclear materials from the site and complete decommissioning of three more buildings. Also at Mound, we transferred two buildings and 27 acres to the City of Miamisburg in FY 1999, and we expect to deed over two more buildings and another 100 acres in FY 2000.

- We awarded the privatization contract for the design, construction, operation and capping of a waste disposal facility at Oak Ridge for up to 400,000 cubic meters of contaminated soils and debris. In addition, we expect to issue a Record of Decision for the transuranic waste treatment project at Oak Ridge.

- In support of non-proliferation goals, we have now completed a total of fourteen shipments of spent nuclear fuel from foreign research reactors in 23 countries including Brazil, South Korea, and Venezuela. On-the-ground use of new innovative technologies continues to increase. During FY1999, DOE sites used innovative technologies 218 times in cleanup activities. For example, the Segmented Gate System (SGS) was successfully used for projects at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos. This technology is a computer-controlled mechanical sorter that separates clean soil from contaminated waste streams, thereby significantly reducing the volume of waste to be packaged and disposed of, and reducing costs by up to 75 percent. Also in FY 1999, 40 innovative technologies were made available for use for the first time. One such technology is the Multifunction Corrosion Probe now being used in the tanks at Hanford. This technology helps reduce the volume of tank waste by allowing workers to directly monitor the rate of tank corrosion and add only the minimum amount of sodium hydroxide necessary to inhibit corrosion. During FY 2000, the sites expect to deploy new technology at least 60 times in cleanup activities. For example, the Lasagna electro- osmosis process will be used to remove groundwater contaminants at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.


The FY 2001 budget request of $5.803 billion in traditional budget authority and $515 million in budget authority to support privatization projects will enable EM to continue making progress across the country. In FY 2001, we will continue to give priority to high risk problems such as stabilizing and ensuring the security of plutonium at several sites; stabilizing tanks containing high-level radioactive waste; and ensuring the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel, including foreign research reactor fuel in support of non- proliferation goals. We will continue to move closer to the goal of completing the cleanup of Rocky Flats, the Mound Site and Fernald in Ohio, and Weldon Spring in Missouri by 2006. We will complete the cleanup of three additional DOE sites. We will accelerate the cleanup of the uranium enrichment plants at Portsmouth, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky, and will significantly increase the number of shipments to WIPP. We also are requesting funds to begin construction of the privatized high-level waste vitrification plant at the Hanford site.


The safety of our workers is our highest priority. We will not compromise the safety of our workers in any of our activities. As our cleanup accelerates, we must ensure that we have truly implemented and institutionalized Integrated Safety Management - the systems, procedures, and behavioral attitudes in place to continually improve our safety performance. In the recent EM reorganization, I created the Office of Safety, Health and Security to consolidate EM's resources, expertise and experience in these areas. A primary objective of this office is to ensure all EM personnel understand their responsibilities in the areas of safety and security so that these concepts and practices are integral to all EM programs and activities. Safety culture flows from actions by the senior management of an organization. These actions enforce understanding at every level that constant attention to safety has incremental beneficial effects, and the absence of these actions can almost guarantee adverse consequences.

We are improving our safety orientation and performance as we strive to become a leader in safety throughout the DOE complex, with an approach to and record in safety that meets or exceeds the best private industrial firms. Managers at all levels are responsible for monitoring, taking appropriate actions to ensure that a commitment to safety is engendered throughout the organization, and participating in feedback systems so that continual improvements can be realized. We will be successful when we consider safety in everything we do - whether it is budget allocation, work formulation and prioritization, or staffing.


Move spent nuclear fuel from K Basins at Hanford - The FY 2001 request furthers our efforts to protect the Columbia River by beginning the removal of spent nuclear fuel from K-Basins at the Hanford Site in Washington. Our request will enable us to meet the milestone to begin fuel removal in November 2000. This project will carry out a first-of- a-kind technical solution to move 2,100 metric tons of corroding spent nuclear fuel from at-risk wet storage conditions in the K-East and K- West basins adjacent to the Columbia River into safe, dry storage in a new facility away from the river.

Achieving this milestone will represent a significant accomplishment for a project that previously suffered from technical and management problems that delayed schedules and increased costs. We are now on track with a new baseline established in December 1998 that provides a realistic means to move this spent fuel to a safer facility and location.

Move Three Mile Island Spent Nuclear Fuel to Safe Storage - At INEEL, we will complete the transfer of Three Mile Island spent nuclear fuel to dry storage and the transfer of spent nuclear fuel at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC) from aging, deteriorating underwater storage to safer storage facilities. These transfers reduce environmental and safety risks and fulfill commitments in the Idaho Settlement Agreement.

Stabilize Plutonium at Hanford and Savannah River Sites - We are reducing risks by stabilizing plutonium-bearing materials at the Hanford and the Savannah River Sites. At Hanford, we will continue stabilization of plutonium-bearing materials and oxides at the Plutonium Finishing Plant. In addition, we will begin operating the bagless transfer system for packaging plutonium-bearing materials and complete brushing and repackaging of plutonium metal inventory. These stabilization activities support our commitment to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and are a critical step in the deactivation of Plutonium Finishing Plant, which will significantly reduce mortgage costs at Hanford.

The request supports critical work to stabilize plutonium residues and other plutonium-bearing materials from the Savannah River Site and other sites across the complex, including plutonium residues and other plutonium-bearing materials from the Rocky Flats site in Colorado, in the F- Canyon and H-Canyon at Savannah River. Stabilization of these "at risk" materials is critical in resolving health and safety concerns surrounding these radioactive materials, since they are now in liquid or unstable forms unsuitable for long-term storage; supporting closure goals at Rocky Flats; and responding to Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board recommendations. Stabilize High-Level Waste in Underground Storage Tanks at Hanford - In FY 2001, we will continue improving safety of the high-level waste tanks by resolving high priority safety issues such as flammable gas generation and continuing interim stabilization work that involves pumping liquid waste from single-shelled tanks into double-shelled tanks. The remaining two tanks which are suspected of having leaked in the past will be pumped during FY 2001.

Receive Foreign Research Reactor Fuel -- The FY 2001 request continues support for the return of spent nuclear fuel containing uranium originally enriched in the United States from foreign research reactors around the world. This program reduces the threat of nuclear proliferation by ensuring enriched uranium will not be used to make nuclear weapons. It also supports a U.S. nuclear weapons nonproliferation policy calling for the reduction and eventual elimination of the use of highly enriched uranium in civil programs worldwide.

Spent nuclear fuel will be shipped from research reactors in Argentina, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Japan to the United States in FY 2001, and the Department is working with other interested, eligible foreign research reactors in The Netherlands, Chile, and Indonesia in an attempt to include additional countries in the 2001 shipment schedule. Blend-down of Highly Enriched Uranium at Savannah River - The FY 2001 EM request includes $37.9 million to support a creative approach to convert the Department's store of surplus highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium for use as a commercial reactor fuel, offering a means to eliminate the proliferation risk posed by this weapons-grade material. The "Blend-Down" project, managed by the Office of Fissile Materials Disposition, is a collaboration between DOE and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which will use the converted fuel in its nuclear power reactors. The project is highly beneficial to both agencies. First, blending down the highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium furthers DOE's non-proliferation goals. Second, it will reduce DOE's long-term liabilities and risks associated with storing the material as highly enriched uranium or converting it to a waste form for disposal. Third, transferring the low enriched uranium solution to TVA's vendors will satisfy a DOE commitment to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. Fourth, TVA will realize significant savings as compared to buying virgin fuel on the open market. Depending on actual program costs and uranium market prices, DOE may ultimately receive a share of the savings.

The request will provide for a loading station at the Savannah River Site to transfer the uranium solutions from the H-area tanks to shipping containers and fund other infrastructure requirements for the project at the site. The project will use existing reprocessing facilities at the site and, as currently planned, will not extend the life of Savannah River reprocessing facilities or increase EM operational funding requirements.


At the FY 2001 request level of $6.318 billion, EM will be substantially in compliance with applicable environmental and other legal requirements. Most of our activities are governed by federal and state environmental statutes and regulations and enforceable agreements between the Department and federal and state agencies. We are committed to complying with these legal requirements and agreements. In addition, we plan to meet our commitments to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. In several cases, we need to work closely with our regulators and the Board as well as our stakeholders and Tribal Nations, on the appropriate schedule and milestones for our program. We will continue to work to reduce costs and accelerate schedules so that we can meet our compliance requirements in the most practical and cost-effective manner.


Complete More Site Cleanups - In FY 2001, we will continue to make progress toward the goal of cleaning up as many of the remaining contaminated sites as possible by 2006, safely and cost-effectively. At the start of FY 1997, shortly after the EM program first established this goal, 61 of the 113 sites in the EM program required active cleanup. We now have completed cleanup at 69 sites, and have 44 sites that still require active cleanup. We plan to complete cleanup at two additional sites this fiscal year and at three sites in FY 2001 Argonne National Laboratory-West in Idaho, Monticello Remedial Action Project in Utah, and Grand Junction Site in Colorado. In fact, we are accelerating the cleanup at Grand Junction to 2001 from 2002 as initially planned. We plan to reduce the number of cleanup sites remaining to 39 by the end of FY 2001.

Complete Vitrification of High-Level Waste at West Valley - At the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York, we will achieve significant milestones in carrying out the Department's responsibilities at this once privately-owned commercial nuclear processing facility. We will complete high-level waste vitrification processing, producing the final five canisters, and begin deactivation of the vitrification facility. At the end of the vitrification campaign, the Department will have vitrified 600,000 gallons of liquid high-level waste, reducing risks to the workers and public by converting the waste into a stable form. We will also complete the shipment of all spent nuclear fuel to INEEL. Removing the 125 spent fuel elements from the spent fuel pool at West Valley is a prerequisite for decontamination and decommissioning of facilities.

Make Progress Toward Closing Rocky Flats by 2006 - The budget request of $664.7 million supports closure of Rocky Flats by December 15, 2006, the closure date targeted in the new cost, plus-incentive-fee contract with Kaiser-Hill that took effect February 1, 2000. The Rocky Flats site is the largest site challenged to accelerate site cleanup and achieve closure in 2006 and, to date, significant progress has been made toward making this goal a reality. Despite the many challenges facing the closure of Rocky Flats, we are confident that the terms and conditions of the closure contract, including the schedule and performance incentives, better position us to achieve our goal of realizing substantial savings and dramatic risk reduction through accelerated closure. Critical elements in the closure strategy are stable funding for the life of the project and the ability to move nuclear materials and radioactive wastes from the site, which requires that other sites - often DOE sites - are available and prepared to accept the materials. The coordination of these planned shipping campaigns to the receiver sites demonstrates the Department-wide commitment to the goal of achieving accelerated closure of Rocky Flats.

In FY 2000, we began operating under a baseline that supports closure in 2006, which replaced a baseline for completing cleanup in 2010, and our activities and schedules for FY 2001 are consistent with this baseline. Under this baseline, by the end of 2001, We will: complete 98 percent of plutonium residues packaging for shipment; complete the draining of the liquid plutonium from the pipes in Building 771 and remove the pipes in preparation for demolishing the building; complete 88 percent of plutonium metal and oxides packaging for shipment; complete 80 percent of plutonium metal and oxides off-site shipments.

The new closure contract, valued at nearly $4.0 billion plus incentive payments, requires KaiserHill to submit a revised baseline reflecting the terms and conditions of the contract by the end of June 2000. The specific activities detailed within the FY 2001 request will be adjusted pending review and acceptance of the new baseline.

Under the new contract, the Department and Kaiser-Hill are better positioned to safely achieve site closure by 2006. We have clearly come a long way since the previous contractor estimated a few years ago that it would take $30 billion and 30 years to complete cleanup at Rocky Flats. ! Increase Shipments to WIPP - The FY 2001 budget request of $194.5 million, a $13 million increase over the FY 2000 appropriation, supports more shipments of transuranic waste to WIPP in New Mexico. The FY 2001 request supports shipments of contact-handled transuranic waste at a rate of 13 shipments per week by the end of FY 2001, a significant increase over the end-of-year rate of two shipments per week in FY 1999, and five shipments per week in FY 2000. The number of shipments will increase from about 120 in FY 2000 to about 485 in FY 2001, from Rocky Flats, Los Alamos, INEEL, Hanford, and the Savannah River Site. We will also be completing remote-handled transuranic waste equipment upgrades and regulatory submittals, in preparation for beginning remote-handled waste shipments in FY 2002. Begin the Construction Phase of High-level Waste Treatment Facility at Hanford - The FY 2001 request provides $450 million in budget authority to support the privatization project to develop treatment facilities to vitrify at least 10 percent by volume of the 54 million gallons of high-level waste now stored in underground tanks at the Hanford Site in Washington, a project managed by DOE's Office of River Protection. This significant increase over the request of $105.7 million in the FY 2000 appropriation anticipates a decision in FY 2000 authorizing the contractor, BNFL, Inc., to proceed with the start of the construction phase for the facilities. The project is now in a phase in which the contractor will complete 30 percent of the design process, obtain financing, and submit a fixed-price bid. The Department will evaluate the contractor's proposal, as well as determine whether all other critical elements, such as the delivery of the waste to the facility, are in place and ready to support the project and the schedule. Based on this in-depth evaluation, the Department will make a decision, expected in August 2000, on whether to proceed. If the Department authorizes construction to proceed, the amount requested in FY 2001 will allow the contractor to initiate long-lead procurements and begin construction.

We are requesting less for FY 2001 than previously indicated because design work has progressed at a slower pace than originally anticipated. We are confident that we will have sufficient design completed to make the authorization to proceed decision in August as scheduled, but we intend to develop a robust and complete design before beginning construction and long-lead procurement. As a result, construction and long-lead procurement activities will not be at the same pace in FY 2001 as indicated previously. This approach will provide the Department and the Congress with additional confidence in the project before we move forward.

In addition, we are requesting $382 million in traditional budget authority for the Office of River Protection, a $44 million increase from last year. This funding enables the Department to mitigate the hazards associated with the high-level waste in the tanks and safely maintain them. It also funds the preparation of the tank farm retrieval system that will deliver tank waste to the privatized treatment facility. The schedule for developing the waste delivery system and preparing waste must be fully integrated with the privatized facility schedule in order for the treatment to begin on time. We will be determining the readiness of this Waste feed system when making the decision next August regarding the authorization-to- proceed with a treatment facility. This part of the project will continue to be funded through traditional budget authority, as reflected in this year's request.

Accelerate Cleanup at Portsmouth and Paducah - Our FY 2001 budget request responds to concerns raised by investigations by DOE's Office of Environment, Safety and Health (EH) about the pace of cleanup, and fulfills the Secretary's commitment to seek additional funds to accelerate cleanup of environmental contamination at the gaseous diffusion plants at Paducah, Kentucky and Portsmouth, Ohio. This also meets the recommendations in the Conference Report for the FY 2000 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act to substantially increase funding for cleanup of these two sites. These plants were used to enrich uranium for defense and energy purposes and were transferred to the U.S. Enrichment Corporation in 1998.

The Department is requesting $78 million for Paducah in FY 2001, nearly $24 million more than in FY 2000 and almost a two-fold increase from the appropriation in FY 1999. These funds will allow us to complete the removal of "Drum Mountain," a large scrap pile containing thousands of drums, which is a suspected source of contamination of the Big and Little Bayou Creeks from surface ran-off. We will remove the remaining 51,000 tons of contaminated scrap metal stored in outside storage areas, allowing characterization of the ground underneath the piles. The funds will be used to continue stabilization activities in two shut down buildings. We will also be able to characterize and dispose of the remaining 9,000 drams of low-level radioactive waste, some of which are currently stored in deteriorating drams, and ship 2,000 drams of mixed waste to an offsite disposal facility. These activities address specific concerns raised by the EH investigation team.

The request provides $76.2 million for cleanup activities at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, about $30 million more than in FY 2000. This funding will allow the site to complete final corrective actions for the groundwater plumes on the south side of the site containing such chemical contaminants as polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs), trichloroethylene (TCE), and chromium and begin design and construction for soil and groundwater contamination on the north side. We will also dispose of contaminated soil and accelerate characterization and disposal of mixed hazardous and radioactive waste. The increased funding will keep us on track with completing environmental restoration activities by FY 2002 and waste management activities by FY 2006.

We also have submitted a supplemental request for $16 million in FY 2000 to accelerate work at the Portsmouth and Paducah plants. We appreciate this Subcommittee's favorable consideration of our request.

Make Progress Toward Closure at Ohio Sites - At the Fernald Environmental Management Project, we will continue accelerating closure of this former uranium production facility. We will place a permanent cap on Cell 1 of the On-site Disposal Facility using an innovative capping technology. This facility, designed to have seven cells with an option for an eighth, is enabling us to accelerate disposal of contaminated soil and debris resulting from cleanup and building demolition.

At the Mound Plant in Ohio, we will accelerate tritium decontamination in buildings on the "critical path" to closure, completing decontamination of three of eight acres in the Semi-Works building, one of three significant contaminated buildings that comprise the tritium complex. We will also continue demolition of surplus buildings.

Of the 107 buildings to be removed from the site, approximately 50 percent will be either demolished or auctioned off by FY 2001.

Begin Work at the Uranium Mill Tailings Site in Moab - The budget request also includes a proposal that the Department undertake cleanup of a uranium mill tailings site in Moab, Utah, formerly owned by the now-bankrupt Atlas Corporation. The tailings contain low-levels of radioactivity from uranium, radium and their decay products, as well as hazardous constituents that present a small but continuing risk for contamination of the Colorado River. There have been concerns expressed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as local communities and downstream states, about the risks posed to the river. Located next to the river, the site is in a major tourist area because of its proximity to two National Parks. The Department believes it is important to preserve these national treasures and restore the environment. Our experience with cleanup of older uranium mill tailings sites, many of which were located along streams and rivers, makes the Department well-suited to this task. We are proposing to work with Congress to develop legislation that would direct the Department to undertake this $200 to $300 million cleanup project to relocate and stabilize the Moab tailings at a secure site, away from the river. We are requesting $10 million in FY 2001 in the non-defense account to initiate activities at this site.


Project management principles and practices provide the discipline for EM to achieve its cleanup goals efficiently. To effectively oversee and manage our contractor workforce, we must be knowledgeable of and employ state-of-the-industry project management practices. I have created an Office of Project Management within EM to set project management policies and procedures, conduct independent project reviews, and train our staff in project management practices. This office is working with organizations such as the Construction Industry Institute, the Project Management Institute, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to bring state-of the-art project management tools and training into the EM program to enable us to better manage our projects.

Many of our sites have improved their project baselines and project management practices in the last year. The Oak Ridge Operations Office completed a comprehensive revision of their baselines that provides the most complete and thorough baselines to date for their sites. The Idaho Operations Office implemented a process for re-estimating about half of their baselines, resulting in higher confidence in their estimates. A new baseline for the project at the Hanford site to move spent nuclear fuel from the aging K-Basins to safer, dry storage was established in FY 1999 that provided the first realistic and achievable cost and schedule to accomplish the transfer of the fuel. The Rocky Flats site revised its baseline to reflect a 2006 closure rather than the 2010 closure date in last year's baseline. Additional improvements in baselines are under way this year at Idaho and Rocky Flats with selected improvements elsewhere.

Over the past year we have developed and implemented a system of internal controls. We are requiring that all work be organized into discrete projects and that baselines be documented, and have established a change-control system. EM has re-instituted a rigorous "change-control" and critical decision process with defined thresholds for approval to enable us to better control our projects. Finally, I am formalizing quarterly reviews of major systems and other high visibility projects.

The Department has created the Office of Engineering and Construction Management within the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to provide a Department-wide focus on project management policies, tools, and procedures. EM is working closely with this office to develop and implement a new DOE Order governing project management. Included in this Order will be enhanced policies on change control, critical decision approval by the Deputy Secretary for Major Systems, quarterly project reviews, and monthly project performance reporting.


Sharing information and the unique capabilities for managing and treating nuclear wastes and materials at many of our sites is critical to our success. Our integration initiative seeks to consolidate treatment, storage and disposal facilities and use available capacity rather than construct new facilities; apply innovative technologies at multiple sites; and apply lessons learned and site successes complex- wide.

We have several key initiatives to facilitate site closure by moving materials to other sites for interim storage, with requested funds supporting the necessary activities in both the receiving and the sending sites. The Department has made substantial progress in consolidating storage of certain special nuclear materials from the Rocky Flats site in Colorado. In FY 1999, Rocky Flats completed shipments of plutonium weapons pits to the Paritex Plant in Texas and highly enriched uranium to the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Rocky Flats also began shipments of plutonium scrub alloy to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina in FY 1999; we will complete these shipments this year. This consolidation of nuclear materials has supported our 2006 closure goal for Rocky Flats and reduced the cost of maintaining security for the remaining special nuclear materials.

The Department is also preparing to ship containers of excess plutonium to the Savannah River Site for storage in modified K-Reactor Area facilities. These shipments are scheduled to begin in FY 2000.

The Department has made progress in identifying sites that will treat and dispose of similar waste generated by sites across the DOE complex. In December 1999, after extensive technical analyses and consultation with state representatives and other stakeholders, we announced our site preferences for disposal of DOE low-level and mixed low-level waste based on the Waste Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. This allowed us to complete a formal Record of Decision in February 2000 on low-level and mixed low-level waste treatment and disposal facilities, after further consultations with the affected states. The decisions, when implemented, will result in more efficient waste disposal operations as well as development of capabilities that do not currently exist. These capabilities are needed to move waste from storage to disposal and support cleanup and closure sites. The Department also has 340,000 cubic meters of high- level waste at four sites, and is storing spent fuel at a number of sites. These will be safely stored until a geological repository is available. The Department is now evaluating the suitability of Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a repository.

The opening of WIPP in New Mexico for disposal operations in March 1999 provides a good example of the benefits of integration. For decades a large amount of transuranic waste has been stored at about two dozen sites across the United States. Beginning disposal operations at WIPP provides a means for the Department to permanently dispose of this long-lived radioactive waste while reducing the number of sites where this waste is stored. WIPP is critical for closing sites like Rocky Flats; for meeting compliance obligations for more than a dozen other sites, including the Idaho Settlement Agreement; and for reducing storage costs and risks to the public. In October 1999, the State of New Mexico Environment Department issued a final hazardous waste permit that became effective in November 1999. The permit allows WIPP to dispose of mixed transuranic waste. The Department is working to implement the permit while challenging several provisions that we believe are inappropriate, such as financial assurance requirements and certain technical requirements. It is critical that these issues are successfully resolved so that our waste management commitments and goals for WIPP can be met. From March 26, 1999, when WIPP began disposal operations until November 1999 when shipments were temporarily stopped to align the program with requirements in the newly-issued RCRA permit, WIPP received 44 shipments of non-mixed waste from three sites - Los Alamos, Rocky Flats, and INEEL.

Finally, the transport of radioactive waste and material between sites is critical to the success of our integration priorities. Our transportation program, which successfully moved spent nuclear fuel containing U.S. enriched uranium from research reactors around the world to the U.S. for safe storage, is applying its success to other DOE shipments. EM is working with other DOE program offices and with the sites to develop a corporate strategy that will enable us to identify future packaging and transportation needs, to support aggressive shipping schedules, and to utilize our transportation assets more efficiently.


We have found that performing good technical work is not enough. Getting the job done requires cooperation with regulators and others outside of DOE that have a stake in our actions.

By working cooperatively with regulators, stakeholders, local communities and the Tribal Nations, we have improved the efficiency of the EM program and have been able to meet our regulatory commitments in a more efficient and cost-effective way. Our request continues support for effective public participation through continued relationships with states, site-specific and national advisory boards, and Indian tribes potentially affected by our activities.


As the Department completes stabilization, cleanup and disposal of waste, we must consider the next and final stage in the cleanup process: meeting our enduring environmental protection obligations through long-term stewardship. At most sites the Department is performing cleanup that will make the land available for other uses, but not necessarily unrestricted use, because of the presence of residual contaminants or deliberate entombment of waste or facilities. The Department has been completing cleanup that results in substantial risk and maintenance cost reductions. Similar to the cleanup of private sites, cleanup to levels allowing for unrestricted use often cannot be achieved at DOE sites for economic or technical reasons and has not been demanded by regulators. The Department has been able to take advantage of the Superfund administrative reforms developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow anticipated future land use to be considered in developing cleanup remedies.

The goal of long-term stewardship is the sustainable protection of human health and the environment after cleanup, disposal or stabilization is completed. A robust long-term stewardship program emphasizes good project management, the value of applying the best science and technology to manage residual hazards, and increasing public confidence through effective involvement of state and local governments, Tribal Nations, and stakeholders in longterm stewardship decision making. A reliable long-term stewardship program can also provide confidence to regulators and the public that non-removal remedies are acceptable because the Department can be trusted to care for the sites after the waste is contained in place.

Most of the explicit long-term stewardship activities in the field are conducted by our staff in Grand Junction, Colorado. This office is responsible for long-term stewardship at approximately 30 sites across the United States in FY 2000. These sites range from large uranium mill tailings sites (mostly in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico), former nuclear weapons productions facilities (e.g., Pinellas, Florida), and commercial nuclear fuel cycle facilities (e.g., AMAX in Parkersburg, West Virginia) that did work for the federal government.

During the past year, the Department has taken action to strengthen its long-term stewardship program. First, we increased the budget for long-term stewardship to respond to the greater demand resulting from the completion of more cleanups. Our FY 2001 budget request for the long-term stewardship program, managed by our Grand Junction Office, is more than $5 million, an increase of approximately 60 percent over the FY 2000 budget level. The budget largely reflects the expected transition of new responsibilities to the Grand Junction Office for long-term stewardship of the Monticello and Weldon Spring sites when they complete cleanup. This funding will provide continued cost- effective stewardship of approximately 35 sites in 2001, which is more than a 50 percent increase since 1999, when Grand Junction managed 25 sites. This funding will enable us to comply with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) permit requirements for long-term surveillance and maintenance for closed uranium mill tailings sites, as well as for increased responsibilities under Superfund and hazardous waste laws for protecting human health and the environment at several additional sites where closure occurred with residual contamination in place.

Second, we recently established an Office of Long-Term Stewardship at our Headquarters office. The office is addressing these emerging challenges with responsibility for field guidance and policy development, technical analysis, and identification of science and technology needs. While this may be the first office addressing long- term stewardship in the federal government, I would suggest to you that it will not be the last. This is because the issues we are grappling with are not unique to the Department of Energy. This new office is located within and funded through our Office of Science and Technology. This reflects the fact that we intend to continue investing in science and technology to help ensure that the protections provided by our remedies can be maintained as cost- effectively as possible for the necessary duration. There are a number of activities that this office will complete by the end of this year that will help establish the basis for a stronger long-term stewardship program. First, EM is responding to the mandate in the FY 2000 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to report to Congress by October 1, 2000, on the Department's long-term stewardship responsibilities. This report will provide the best available information on the cost, scope, and schedule for long-term stewardship at sites and portions of sites in sufficient detail to undertake the necessary stewardship responsibilities.

Third, we are preparing a study on long-term stewardship pursuant to the lawsuit settlement agreement (Natural Resource Defense Council, et. al. v. Richardson, et. al., Cir. No. 97-963 (SS) (D.D.C. Dec. 12, 1998)). The study will address national, programmatic, and cross- cutting issues related to long-term stewardship.

The management system required for performing long-term stewardship as cost-effectively as possible will likely build on the existing EM system. However, there may also be an additional need for new technologies, new contracting mechanisms, and new specialized personnel to ensure reliable and cost-effective long-term stewardship. This is what we are now examining as we accelerate our efforts to complete cleanup and close more sites, which in turn will require more long-term stewardship.


Our investments in science and technology are providing the scientific knowledge and new technologies necessary to help us reduce the cost and time frame of the complex-wide cleanup effort, and enable us to tackle cleanup problems that had no effective solutions. We are requesting $196.5 million in fiscal year 2001 for investments in both basic and applied research. These funds will target our highest priority needs and will be applied across the spectrum of science and technology work from basic research through deployment among EM's five major problem areas: mixed waste, high-level tank waste, subsurface contamination, deactivation and decommissioning, and nuclear materials.

Our science and technology program has made a significant impact on how we conduct our cleanup operations. Over 75 percent of the approximately 250 innovative solutions made available for use over the past ten years are making real on-the-ground contributions. For instance: Site characterization represents a large portion of the cost for environmental restoration activities. We now have very sophisticated, safe methods to identify, characterize, quantify and monitor contamination. New remotely operated machines now exist to perform work in conditions that are too hazardous for humans, such as inside radioactive waste tanks. Among the new technologies making a difference is a process that uses a concentrated caustic solution to dissolve and remove large quantities of unwanted nonradioactive elements in the sludge, thereby decreasing waste volume (Enhanced Sludge Washing). This process has been selected as the technology to be used to pretreat Hanford tank sludges where it is expected to avoid $4.8 billion in costs compared to other technology choices. An in-ground "wall" of iron filings (Permeable Reactive Treatment Wall) has been installed at the Kansas City Plant and Monticello Uranium Mill Site to remove contaminants from groundwater as the water passes through the "wall." This eliminates the need for a more costly "pump and treat" system.

- A third Passive Reactive Barrier is in place in the Solar Ponds at Rocky Flats to destroy nitrates and remove uranium from groundwater; compared against a thirty-year pump-and-treat baseline, this technology will save more than an estimated $20 million. Other reactive barriers deployed at Rocky Flats have been designed to destroy chlorinated solvents and capture radionuclides. Optimized use of the existing re-injection well network at the Fernald site in Ohio will enable the site to accelerate groundwater remediation. It may enable us to complete groundwater remediation as much as 17 years ahead of schedule, potentially saving the Department up to $50 million.

EM's science and technology program is also now providing on-the- ground technical assistance, sending some of our top scientists out of the laboratory and into the field to help with specific technical problems.

Our first formal technical assistance effort was to identify solutions for groundwater remediation at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky. The federally-led team, including four national laboratories, responded quickly and produced a strong plan for aggressive remediation of the contaminants in the groundwater and the soil. It is my intention to continue this approach to ensure our cleanup efforts are based on technically defensible decisions.

We are also pleased with the progress of our EM Science Program (EMSP), which is conducted in partnership with DOE's Office of Science. Since its inception in fiscal year 1996, EMSP has invested over $224 million in support of 274 research projects. Our open, competitive approach has ensured the highest caliber of research involving 90 universities, 13 national laboratories, and 22 other governmental and private laboratories. Research is being conducted in 34 states and the District of Columbia, two Canadian provinces, Australia, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic. Our efforts are already providing some encouraging results. For instance, a high-level waste research project, being led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, focuses on determining the effect of radiation on the stability of glasses and ceramics at an atomic, microscopic and macroscopic level. Because these materials are an integral part of the planning for the final waste forms of a number of DOE waste streams, an understanding of how radioactive materials influence their long- term stability is critical in material selection.

The increasing number of deployments of new technologies to solve real cleanup problems demonstrates that the field is recognizing their value. Preliminary data, now being verified,indicate that during fiscal year 1999, DOE sites used innovative technologies 218 times in cleanup activities, 129 of which were first uses by the site. Of these deployments, 166 were science and technology-sponsored technologies. This is a definite and dramatic improvement over previous years. Since the inception of this program, we have seen nearly 450 deployments at DOE sites of 194 new technologies that were sponsored by EM's science and technology program. The accelerated site technology deployment effort initiated in FY 1998 has contributed to these increased deployments. A total of 47 projects have been initiated that involve a total of 92 technologies. From a total life-cycle EM investment of $300 million, we estimate $1.5 billion in life-cycle savings. Selections for new projects for fiscal year 2000 will be announced in March.

To help ensure that this upward deployment trend continues, the Department is in the process of evaluating contracts with our site contractors to provide better incentives for them to use innovative technologies. We believe contract incentives, coupled with the integration of our technology developers and users, will ensure that the innovative technology we are providing is used to accomplish our cleanup goals cheaper, faster and safely.


In conclusion, the Department is making progress in cleaning up the legacy of contamination left from the nuclear weapons production process. We are reducing our most serious risks, accelerating and finishing cleanup at sites across the country, safely storing and safeguarding weapons-usable nuclear materials, and reducing the long- term costs of the program. We will continue to improve our project management, make the most effective use of our unique resources across the DOE complex, use science and technology to reduce costs and schedules, and maintain our focus on worker safety. We pledge to continue to work closely and cooperatively with the Congress to ensure that this progress continues and that we can meet the challenges ahead in the most effective way.


LOAD-DATE: April 12, 2000

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