DOE environmental stewardship will clean bridges and address challenges, White says at waste management symposia – Los Alamos Reporter


DOE/EM Senior Advisor William ‘Ike’ White speaks during the plenary session of the 2022 Waste Management Symposia. Photo courtesy of DOE/EM


Editor’s note: Randall Ryti, chairman of the Los Alamos County Council, Anne Laurent, deputy county executive, and Danielle Duran, county intergovernmental affairs, attend the symposia.

DOE/EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White told an audience Monday at the 2022 Waste Management Symposia that the EM is focused on “cleaning the decks” and addressing key remaining roadblocks to lasting success.

The last time White attended the annual conference in person was two years ago. The event took place virtually last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past two years have weighed heavily on each of us,” White said in his plenary remarks. “The past two years have also shown what the men and women of the cleaning complex are capable of.”

White hailed the first large-scale treatment of radioactive and chemical waste from large underground reservoirs at the Hanford site using the reservoir-side cesium removal system to prepare for possible vitrification.

“How long have you been waiting here to hear at this conference that the DOE is actually starting to process tank waste at Hanford?” he said.

At the Savannah River (SRS) site, with the saline waste treatment facility in operation, EM now has the entire liquid waste treatment system for the site, White said. And at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site, EM is in the final stages of preparing the Integrated Waste Processing Unit (IWTU) for operation.

“We anticipate actual waste processing at IWTU later this year, another achievement that has been a long time coming,” he said.

White also outlined some remaining hurdles for EM, including:

  • Develop a realistic and achievable approach to dealing with high-level tank waste at the Hanford site that builds on the low-level waste direct feed program.
  • Acceleration of EM’s mission on reservoir waste and long-term risk management for the community.
  • Set the way forward for key sites such as SRS so that they remain an integral part of DOE’s national security and scientific research missions for decades to come.
  • Strengthen – and in some cases rebuild – relationships with regulators and stakeholders in key MS states to align to enable future collective progress.

“None of this will happen without the right people who are a diverse, high-quality workforce that benefits from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to pursue this mission long after most of between us in this room have retired,” White said.

EM is not alone in its mission to tackle its nuclear cleanup.

“We will need the experience and expertise of participating companies here this week – large and small companies,” White said. “We will need input and support from communities, tribal nations and state regulators with equity in our cleanup program. And we will have to build on the successes and challenges that our international partners have experienced. »

Noting that the country featured at this year’s symposia is the UK, White said EM had a long and fruitful relationship with the UK, extending to the start of the UK cleanup program and the launch of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

White spoke about the future of EM, discussing the EM Strategic Vision 2022-2032 and some of the work EM hopes to accomplish over the next decade, including:

“It’s an exciting future for EM and our ability to get there will be based on the work many of you are doing today and what you will be doing in the future,” White said.

White also explained how EM aligns with the Biden administration on environmental justice.

“We are thrilled that Los Alamos has been selected as one of the Department’s pilot projects for the Justice 40 initiative,” White said. He noted that the initiative aims to ensure that EM delivers at least 40% of the overall benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to traditionally underserved communities.

A key component of EM’s environmental justice efforts at Los Alamos and other EM locations is increased stakeholder engagement.

“Our sites are fortunate to be surrounded by diverse communities and tribal nations who are strong partners in advancing the cleanup and planning for the future,” White said.

Concluding his remarks, White said EM has not only survived the challenges of operating in the COVID-19 pandemic, but has thrived by leading the largest environmental cleanup program in the world.

“I’m proud and lucky to be a part of EM at this point in its history, and I hope all of you here today who play a part in our success are equally excited and proud,” said White.


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