The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) Nevada Program and its Environmental Program Services contractor, Navarro Research and Engineering, Inc., recently unveiled a new 10-year Strategic Vision for EM mission activities at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and on the adjacent Nevada Test and Training Range for the period of 2021 to 2031. This effort is a component of the DOE Office of Environmental Management’s Strategic Vision initiative, which is intended to provide a clear and concise summary of the progress EM anticipates realizing at key sites over the coming decade.
In the next 10 years, it is anticipated that the EM Nevada Program will complete its current environmental remediation scope at the NNSS. EM Nevada will continue to closely collaborate with local stakeholders, including state and local officials, the Nevada Site Specific Advisory Board, Intergovernmental Liaisons group, Low-Level Waste (LLW) Stakeholders Forum, and others, to bring its cleanup work to mission end state in a manner that prioritizes the protection of people, communities, and the environment.
“The EM Nevada Program reached several major milestones this past year, including bringing 75 percent of all of our groundwater regions to end state completion. Our strategic vision for the next decade includes the completion of our currently identified cleanup scope, which will cap off more than 30 years of dedicated environmental remediation work in Nevada. I look forward to continuing to work closely with our employees, contractors, site partners, and stakeholders to effectively and efficiently make this vision a reality,” said Rob Boehlecke, EM Nevada Program Manager.
2020 Key Accomplishments
Highlights of the year include transitioning two sites to long-term stewardship, closure of a groundwater area three years early, and safely disposing of nearly a half million cubic feet of radioactive waste. In 2020, the DOE and EM Nevada Program accomplished several high-profile projects:
- Fulfilled a key part of the mission in Nevada by completing remediation activities on and around the historic Tonopah Test Range and conveying 70 sites into long-term stewardship with the transfer of more than 7,200 documents and records to Legacy Management.
- Closed Rainier Mesa/Shoshone Mountain (RM/SM) groundwater area three years ahead of schedule, with approximately $5 million in savings. The accomplishment caps more than 15 years of work to study the groundwater in the RM/SM region of the NNSS and transition the area to long-term monitoring.
- Safely and securely disposed ~500,000 ft³ of classified and LLW/mixed low-level radioactive waste in support of DOE complex sites involved with nuclear research, development, and testing, and ongoing national security and science missions.
- Closed Yucca Flat/Climax Mine groundwater region, bringing 75 percent of all NNSS groundwater areas to end-state completion.
Key Regulatory Milestones 2021-2031
EM Nevada Program activities are primarily regulated by the Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order (FFACO), a legally binding agreement with the State of Nevada. A supplemental Agreement in Principle between the Department and the State exists to provide a role for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection in oversight of NNSS LLW disposal operations.
- Submit the Test Cell C closure report to the regulator — April 28, 2023
- Submit the Engine Maintenance, Assembly, and Disassembly facility closure report to the regulator — September 30, 2024
- Transition post-closure monitoring for most sites to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) — September 30, 2027
- Transition post-closure monitoring of Pahute Mesa to NNSA — September 30, 2028
Post-2031 Cleanup Scope
EM Nevada Program is scheduled to reach end state for its cleanup mission no later than 2030, which will ultimately involve the completion of all active remediation activities and the conveyance of remediated sites for long-term stewardship. It is currently anticipated that there will be a need within the DOE complex for NNSS waste disposal beyond 2030.
EM Nevada Program Mission
The DOE EM Nevada Program was established in 1989 to address the environmental legacy from historic nuclear weapons-related activities at the NNSS. The EM Nevada Program is responsible for completing environmental corrective actions and, as appropriate, performing long-term monitoring of historically contaminated sites in accordance with the FFACO. In addition, the EM Nevada Program oversees the safe and compliant disposal of waste at NNSS radioactive waste disposal facilities. Independent monitoring and oversight of disposal activities are conducted by State of Nevada regulators.
For more information on the EM Nevada Program, visit: www.nnss.gov/pages/programs/em/Environmental.html.