Morning Briefing - September 13, 2018
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September 13, 2018

Energy Department Cleanup Funding Approaches 10-Year High

By ExchangeMonitor

With funding for cleanup of the Department of Energy’s nuclear complex approaching a decade high, the agency must show what it can do with the extra cash, Energy Undersecretary for Science Paul Dabbar said Wednesday.

The House and Senate this week unveiled a compromise version of their DOE-funding legislation for fiscal 2019, which would provide $7.2 billion for the department’s Office of Environmental Management for the budget year starting Oct. 1.

“We have the right budget,” Dabbar told the National Cleanup Workshop in Alexandria, Va., adding that just a few years ago the office was funded at $6.4 billion. If DOE can’t demonstrate it is putting the money to good use “it’s shame on us,” the energy undersecretary added.

The Trump administration had requested $6.6 billion for environmental management across 16 facilities around the nation. The appropriations bill would add funding for work at the Hanford Site in Washington state and elsewhere.

Fortunately, the office headed since March by Assistant Secretary for Environmental management Anne Marie White is making measurable headway, Dabbar said. He noted 80 acres of land were recently transferred from the Portsmouth cleanup site in Ohio to the state for economic development. Such land transfers show “we are in a completion mindset,” Dabbar said.

In a separate speech, White said demolition of the Vitrification Plant at the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York state is virtually complete. Environmental remediation at the Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU) in upstate New York should also wrap up this year.

White also highlighted the office’s 10-year strategic plan, which includes development of corresponding plans at cleanup properties. Sites are being directed to spell out how they would complete remediation within a decade if money were no object. A second aspect of the planning will involve considering what can realistically be done over that time with realistic budget expectations. No date has been set for completion of the first strategic plans, sources said.

White said she discussed the strategic planning effort Tuesday with field managers across the DOE weapons complex.