The DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) recently received positive feedback and recommendations from the Nevada Site Specific Advisory Board (NSSAB) stemming from an almost year-long community analysis project conducted by the Board to determine the knowledge, interest levels, concerns, and successfulness of existing community outreach efforts as they relate to DOE’s EM Nevada Program activities at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).
In November 2017 and at the request of the DOE, the NSSAB’s eight-person Community Analysis Committee (CAC) began designing and implementing an analysis program which resulted in collecting feedback from 180 Southern Nevada respondents via online, in-person interviews, and mailed surveys over the span of eight months.
The feedback confirmed communities are aware of the environmental remediation work at the NNSS and are eager for opportunities to learn more. Overall, the NSSAB was complimentary of the DOE’s extensive and diverse outreach efforts and gave recommendations for how it could be further enhanced.
View from NSSAB’s Community Analysis Committee Chair, Dick Stephans:
The Community Analysis Committee developed local newspaper articles and presentations to senior centers, veterans groups, libraries, and other community venues; and posted notices to generate public interest in the survey. Additionally, committee member Dick Twiddy went to the Clark County Fair in Logandale and administered the survey to fair goers utilizing his cell phone and tablet. These efforts gave insight into how the NNSS is viewed by Southern Nevada residents and their awareness of the activities happening at the NNSS.
The community analysis survey helped provide useful recommendations and considerations to enhance an already robust EM Nevada Program outreach schedule. The survey further produced demographic information that the EM Nevada Program may use in the future. Additionally, the Committee developed lessons learned that can be applied to future NSSAB efforts.
“By asking the NSSAB to complete this analysis, the DOE was hoping to gain a better understanding on the actual level of interest and concern communities near the NNSS have on clean-up activities and how our existing outreach program could be enhanced. The NSSAB was the perfect entity to complete this analysis because they are the community,” said Kelly Snyder, EM Nevada Public Affairs Director.
Even though the overall level of concern was considered neutral, contaminated groundwater was the area with the highest level of interest for survey respondents. The responses to the survey indicated that the community outreach events, such as DOE’s Groundwater Open Houses, have been successful and community members would like to see additional events. As such, the DOE EM Nevada Program is hosting a groundwater-focused Community Conversations event in Amargosa Valley and Beatty on October 16. Additional information for Community Conversations can be found using the following link: http://www.nnss.gov/pages/PublicAffairsOutreach/UpcomingPublicEvents.html.
Transportation of radioactive waste to the NNSS also ranked as a topic with strong community interest. The NSSAB recommended this outreach need be addressed by distributing already available materials during all public meetings, through email, news outlets, social media, and traditional advertisements.
Lastly, even though results of the survey show that represented communities are generally satisfied with the level of outreach and available information, community outreach is still something the public is eager to see increased. Specifically, there were suggestions on expanding outreach through attending more county commission meetings, speaking at local community oriented meetings, and conservation club meetings. DOE recently acted upon this recommendation by attending a Beatty Town Advisory Board meeting on September 10, a Nye County Commission meeting on September 18, and hosted a “Table Talk” at the Amargosa Senior Center on September 21.
“By focusing on these areas of recommendation,” said Snyder, “the EM Nevada Program has a great opportunity to further expand the public’s knowledge of NNSS remediation activities and what the DOE is doing to ensure the safety of the public, workers, and the environment.”
To view the formal recommendation and supporting material, visit the NSSAB’s website at: http://www.nnss.gov/nssab/pages/Rec_FY18.htm.