Weapons Complex Monitor Vol. 35 No. 21
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Weapons Complex Monitor
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May 23, 2024

Biden intends to nominate Ike White for DNFSB post

By Wayne Barber

President Joe Biden said Thursday afternoon he plans to nominate William Isaac (Ike) White, acting head of Department of Energy nuclear cleanup since mid-2019, to become a member of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

News of the planned nomination, in a White House press release, comes only three weeks prior to when White would mark his fifth anniversary overseeing DOE’s $8-billion Office of Environmental Management. It also comes with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), lacking a quorum and with its chair’s tenure set to end in October.

Separately, DOE told Exchange Monitor via email Thursday “selection of a new EM leader will be the subject of an upcoming announcement.” Neither the White House nor DOE announcement said whether White would depart Environmental Management right away or continue there until the Senate acts upon his nomination.

The DNFSB, set up as a five-member panel to provide independent safety advice to the DOE weapons complex, slipped to two members following the October 2023 retirement of Jessie Hill Roberson. The term of current DNFSB Chair Joyce Connery would end this October, leaving Thomas Summers as the only active member.

An earlier Biden administration nominee to the board, Savannah River National Laboratory supervisor Patricia Lee was passed out of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but not yet undergone a full Senate vote. If both she and White are confirmed, the board would have a quorum of three members, even after Connery’s departure.

White came to head the Environmental Management office in June 2019, replacing Anne Marie White, no relation, who was the last Senate-confirmed assistant secretary of energy for environmental management.

“Under [Ike White’s] leadership, the Office of Environmental Management made major progress in liquid waste treatment systems, including beginning operations at the Salt Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site, completing construction of the facilities supporting the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste Treatment approach, and beginning the first large-scale treatment of radioactive and chemical tank waste at the Tank-Side Cesium Removal System at Hanford,” according to the White House statement.

“We thank him for his service and contributions to advancing cleanup across the nation and wish him well in his next endeavor,” the spokesperson for the DOE headquarters in Washington, wrote in the email to Exchange Monitor.

White is a career federal employee who came to the cleanup office from the semi autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration. He has also previously worked at DNFSB. 

White worked with DNFSB’s technical staff from 1992 to 2005, both at the board’s headquarters in Washington D.C. and as a resident inspector at the Pantex Plant in Texas, the DNFSB said in its own press release. “The board looks forward to the restoration of quorum in the near future,” DNFSB said in the release. 

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