Fleischmann and Luján to lead House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus

Chuck Fleischmann, Mark Whitney, and Ben Ray Lujan

From left to right are Chairman Chuck Fleischmann, Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Mark Whitney, and Co-Chairman Ben Ray Luján. (Submitted photo)

Chairman Chuck Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican, and Co-Chairman Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, announced on Thursday that they will serve as co-chairs of the House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus, which held its first meeting of the 114th Congress to discuss the importance of raising awareness of environmental management issues.

Fifty years of government nuclear weapons development stemming from the Manhattan Project during World War II has affected communities across the nation and resulted in the need for environmental cleanup at numerous sites, a press release said.

“Our nation has a tremendous nuclear history, and with that has come an important nuclear cleanup mission,” said Fleischmann, who represents the city of Oak Ridge. “I am excited today to host the first meeting of the 114th Congress’ Nuclear Cleanup Caucus with co-chair Lujan and members from across the country who have districts that are impacted.  I also want to thank Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Mark Whitney for taking part in this meeting. This Caucus will serve to promote the awareness of our nuclear legacy and build a stronger coalition to fight for the needs of our cleanup missions, and I am eager to get to work.” [Read more…]

Fleischmann to host first House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus meeting

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

The House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus, chaired by representatives Chuck Fleischmann and Ben Lujan, will host its first meeting of the 114th Congress on Thursday, February 12.

The Cleanup Caucus is a bipartisan group supporting the largest environmental cleanup program in the world, a press release said. The legacy of the Manhattan Project and the 50 years of government nuclear weapons development affects communities throughout our nation. The caucus’ primary mission is to raise awareness of these issues throughout the halls of Congress and around the nation. [Read more…]

DOE Oak Ridge environmental management employees retire

Eddie Holden

Eddie Holden

Two U. S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) employees retired last month after a combined 34 years of federal service.

Eddie Holden, a traffic management specialist for the Facilities Operations Division at OREM, retired on December 31 with 10 years of federal service.

Holden oversaw transportation activities for the agency, leading the effort to maintain compliance and keep hazardous materials off public roads and was responsible for the Haul Road Transportation Program, a press release said. He played a critical role in the development of DOE’s Radio Frequency Identification Transportation System, used for paperless shipments and electronic tracking of vehicles, which cuts costs and improves security. [Read more…]

DOE works with transuranic waste while NM facility shut down

TRU Waste Processing Center

The TRU Waste Processing Center southwest of Oak Ridge National Laboratory off State Route 95 is pictured above. (Photo courtesy TWPC/WAI)


Worker Handles Remote TRU Waste

A worker manipulates RH waste at the TRU Waste Processing Center. (Photo courtesy Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board)

In February 2014, two incidents at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, in New Mexico caused the shutdown of the only facility in the U.S. that permanently disposes of transuranic waste, or TRU waste. That waste is disposed in shafts, or drifts, about a half-mile below ground in an ancient salt bed. Some of that waste has come from Oak Ridge.

After months of investigations into the cause of a truck fire and a radiological release two weeks later, the U.S. Department of Energy released a recovery plan at the end of September that outlines the steps necessary to resume limited waste operations in the first quarter of 2016.

“Key elements of the recovery plan include strengthening safety programs, regulatory compliance, decontamination of the underground, increasing ventilation, mine stability and underground habitability, and additional workforce retraining,” according to a statement on WIPP’s website. [Read more…]

League of Women Voters receives $20,000 national grant

League of Women Voters Logo

The League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge has received a $20,000 national grant that will fund an educational project for young adults (30 years or under) on hazardous waste management. The project is titled the Environmental Management Education Initiative Project.

The grant is made possible through the New Mexico Community Foundation’s Community Involvement Fund and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The purpose of the project is to expand the knowledge and understanding of these young people about the environmental management process and remediation actions in the Oak Ridge community.

The project will consist of two educational sub-projects: a Citizen’s Academy and a Rainbow Academy, a press release said. [Read more…]

Guest column: ECA highlights local government’s role with Energy Secretary Moniz

ECA Board and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

From left to right are Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, Los Alamos County Councilor Fran Berting, Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, ECA Executive Director Seth Kirshenberg, Secretary Ernest Moniz, Aiken County Council Member Chuck Smith, Kennewick Mayor Steve Young, SRSCRO Executive Director Rick McLeod, Los Alamos County Administrator Brian Bosshardt, and ECA Deputy Executive Director Allison Finelli. (Submitted photo)


On June 23, the Energy Communities Alliance Executive Board met with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to highlight the importance of the Department of Energy’s environmental cleanup, national security, nuclear energy, and waste management missions. The ECA Executive Board, including Chair and Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, and other elected local government officials also stressed the importance of regular communication and partnership between DOE and the local governments that are adjacent to DOE facilities. Secretary Moniz agreed that working with local governments is important to the success of DOE.

Earlier in the day, the ECA Executive Board also met with National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Frank Klotz, Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Dave Huizenga, and other DOE and administration officials, as well as congressional staff.

Mayor Beehan stated that local governments can be DOE’s asset for gaining support for missions and for infrastructure development at the sites, but in order for that to occur, local governments must be involved in decision-making. Mayor Beehan also stressed the importance of land transfer to local communities. [Read more…]

DOE’s Oak Ridge Office names safety, technical services manager

Mildred López-Ferré

Mildred López-Ferré (DOE photo/Lynn Freeny)

Mildred López-Ferré has been named deputy assistant manager for safety and technical services at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office.

In this position, López-Ferré will be responsible for leading the development and execution of the requirements and guidelines for environment safety and health and quality assurance for ORO and for multiple DOE site offices nationwide under the purview of the department’s Office of Science Integrated Support Center.

López-Ferré will assist ORO in all aspects of the Integrated Safety Management System, or ISMS, to ensure that DOE operations provide adequate protection to employees, the general public, the environment, and DOE property, effectively and efficiently, a press release said.

López-Ferré began her career at the DOE-ORO in 1991 as a program manager in the former Environmental Restoration Division. Since that time, she has held several leadership positions at ORO, including team leader for Y-12 National Security Complex projects, and ORO federal project director responsible for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 environmental management operations. She has also served as special projects manager in the ORO Manager’s Office, and most recently special projects assistant for the assistant manager for safety and technical services within the DOE Oak Ridge Office. [Read more…]

K-25 demolition project receives American Nuclear Society award

K-25 Building Demolition March 2014

Demolition work at the K-25 Building in west Oak Ridge is complete, and cleanup work is expected to be complete this summer.


The successful demolition of a former gaseous diffusion facility in Oak Ridge has been honored by the American Nuclear Society.

The American Nuclear Society’s Decommissioning and Environmental Services Division selected the K-25 demolition project to receive its Project Excellence Award. The K-25 building, located at East Tennessee Technology Park, was built as part of the Manhattan Project in the 1940s. The facility was shut down in 1964 after two decades of producing enriched uranium for defense and commercial purposes. As the massive, mile-long building began deteriorating, its demolition was considered one of the highest priorities for the environmental cleanup program in Oak Ridge.

UCOR, the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, completed the demolition project on Dec. 19, 2013. The demolition was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

UCOR is a partnership between URS and CH2M Oak Ridge LLC. [Read more…]

Whitney, cleanup manager in Oak Ridge, takes new job at DOE

Mark Whitney

Mark Whitney

Mark Whitney, manager of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management for the U.S. Department of Energy, has accepted a new job as a principal deputy assistant secretary in Washington, D.C.

The official start date for the new position is May 18. Whitney, who has led cleanup work at the three federal sites in Oak Ridge, will be principal deputy assistant secretary for DOE’s Office of Environmental Management. The change was announced Thursday by Acting Assistant Secretary Dave Huizenga.

Whitney’s appointment as assistant manager for environmental management in Oak Ridge was announced about two years ago. [Read more…]

ORAU, DOE seeking students, grads for EM internships, research


Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the U.S. Department of Energy are currently seeking students and recent graduates for paid internships and research opportunities in a variety of disciplines through the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Science Education and Internship Program.

The mission of OREM is to remove environmental legacies resulting from decades of uranium enrichment activities and energy and scientific research. Students and recent college graduates will learn about this mission and receive specialized training and practical experience in the safe cleanup of environmental projects.

This workforce development program offers internships and research opportunities in disciplines ranging from chemical, nuclear, and other engineering fields to environmental and physical sciences, information technology, and occupational safety and health. The goal is to give participants a chance to explore a federal career with DOE and to create a pipeline of highly qualified professionals to support critical DOE missions for years to come. [Read more…]

Honors: DOE employee listed among area’s rising leaders

Heather Cloar of U.S Department of Energy

Heather Cloar, a U.S. Department of Energy employee in Oak Ridge, was named as a member of this year’s 40 Under 40.

By Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management

Earlier this year, the Greater Knoxville Business Journal compiled a list of East Tennessee’s top rising business and community leaders under the age of 40. The 2014 listing featured Heather Cloar, a contracting officer with the Energy Department in Oak Ridge.

Specifically, Heather, an Energy Department employee since 2002, is the federal official responsible for administering the $2.2 billion environmental cleanup contract with URS-CH2M Oak Ridge LLC, or UCOR. She is responsible for reviewing and approving all contract actions and guaranteeing that the contract remains aligned with EM’s priorities. She also certifies that the contractor’s work is performed in a cost-efficient manner to ensure the best value for American taxpayers. As a testament to her watchful oversight and frequent interaction with contractor leadership, UCOR completed the department’s largest-ever demolition project one year ahead of schedule and approximately $300 million under the current budget.

“Heather is making sure we are getting the best deal for the taxpayers under the contract and making sure the contract stays on schedule,” said Karen Shears, chief of the special acquisitions branch for DOE’s procurement and contracts division. “She’s got excellent judgment and great leadership skills, which is something you need because you interact with so many stakeholders.” [Read more…]

DOE awards contract to small business for mercury project at Y-12

Y-12 Water Treatment Plant Announcement

In May 2013, state and federal officials announce a plant to treat mercury-contaminated water at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Pictured from left are Mark Whitney, Robert Martineau, Lamar Alexander, Dave Huizenga, and Stan Meiburg.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or EM, awarded the task order to Strata-G in Knoxville on Wednesday. The company will collect data and perform characterization at Outfall 200 at Y-12.

The task order is the first project in a five-year, multi-phase contract estimated at $15 million, DOE said in a press release Friday. The contract uses a bidding process among three small businesses for various characterization projects at EM’s cleanup sites in Oak Ridge. [Read more…]