A senior industry source said Tuesday he is hearing an increasing amount of “chatter” that the Trump administration might early next year nominate someone to lead the Department of Energy’s nuclear cleanup office.
The source said the talk is circulating among a trusted circle of industry representatives who often share such rumors.
Assuming approval by the U.S. Senate, the nominee would replace acting Assistant Energy Secretary for Environmental Management (EM-1) James Owendoff, a DOE veteran who took the job on an interim basis in June.
When asked, the source said Stoller Newport News Nuclear Vice President Barbara Mazurowski was among the names being considered to lead DOE’s Office of Environmental Management. He could not immediately recall the other names in circulation.
After a separate source last week cited Mazurowski as a potential EM-1 nominee, the Stoller executive told Weapons Complex Morning Briefing she was surprised to hear her name was being mentioned.
The source who spoke Tuesday said EM-1 is a tough position for DOE to fill, given the demands of the job: “It’s a real meat grinder of a job.”
The EM-1 oversees DOE’s roughly $6.5 billion annual defense cleanup program, representing one-fifth of the department’s total budget. The program encompasses massive projects at former and current weapons sites including Hanford in Washington state and Savannah River in South Carolina. Congress keeps a close eye on these programs, alert to any drop in funding, while state regulators have their own demands on the pace of remediation.
In addition, qualified candidates typically can make more money at government contractors than they can as EM-1, the source said.