Supporters of the departing Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Anne Marie White say she refocused the Energy Department’s $7 billion nuclear cleanup office on completing work, rather than just safely maintaining 16 Cold War sites.
But when Energy Secretary Rick Perry confirmed in a Friday email to DOE staff White has resigned effective June 14, some industry observers wonder how much of her “completion mindset” will survive. While the ex-environmental consultant like to say EM’s goal is to get remediation finished, or “done-done,” will that philosophy now be “done-done,” one official mused last week by phone.
White’s exit was rumored for more than a week, with industry sources saying Energy Undersecretary Paul Dabbar sought her resignation May 22 after a dispute over handling of reports of radiological contamination at a middle school near the Portsmouth Site in Ohio.
As EM-1 While has said business as usual wont’ bring under control the cleanup office’s $377 billion in environmental liability – which accounts for the bulk of DOE’s $494 billion liability.
During Anne’s White’s tenure, EM has celebrated many accomplishments, including closure of the 90-acre D-Area ash project at the Savannah River in South Carolina, and the first-ever transfer of land back to the local Portsmouth, Ohio community and completing demolition of the vitrification plant at West Valley Demonstration Project in New York, Perry and Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette said in their email.
The DOE brass confirmed Anne White is leaving, and Ike White, a longtime National Nuclear Security Administration official will become a senior adviser to Dabbar overseeing the Office of Environmental Management.
The Perry email also said Anne White’s chief deputy Mark Gilbertson, a career federal manager, was being reassigned becomes director of DOE’s Laboratory Operations Board. Gilbertson is being succeeded by the manager of agency’s Carlsbad Field Office in New Mexico, Todd Shrader.
The email did not specify when Ike White and Todd Shrader would assume their new jobs.
The last Senate-confirmed head of DOE nuclear remediation before Anne White was Monica Regalbuto, who became assistant secretary in August 2015 and served in the position until January 2017 when President Trump was sworn in.