Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar addresses the audience during last week’s panel discussion for the House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus. Also pictured, from left, are panelists Mark Senderling, EM deputy assistant secretary for waste and materials management; Jeff Griffin, EM associate principal deputy assistant secretary for field operations; and Norbert Doyle, EM deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and project management. Photo Courtesy DOE-EM
Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar and senior leaders from EMtold an audience of the House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus last week that new initiatives in contracting and high level radioactive waste hold the potential to accelerate cleanup at key DOE sites.
Dabbar said the initiatives are indicative of bold leadership in the Department. “We are not a group that is shy about trying to approach things that are big,” he told an audience of about 125 people at the Capitol Hill event.
Discussion focused on the announcement via a Federal Register notice that DOE will interpret the statutory term “high level radioactive waste” (HLW) such that some defense wastes created through spent nuclear fuel reprocessing may be classified as not HLW and may be disposed of in accordance with their radiological characteristics and not just because of their source. Reprocessing wastes are stored in tanks at the Savannah River, Idaho and Hanford sites.
The HLW interpretation, if implemented through subsequent actions, could provide a range of benefits including reducing the length of time that radioactive waste is stored onsite, increasing safety for workers, the public, and the environment.
Dabbar said the initiative “is science-driven. It’s about radiochemistry rather than source.”
“Ultimately at the end of the day, this is not about other items, this has to do with radiological content,” Dabbar said. “Anyone who knows anything really about risk and waste, that’s about it, not where it happened to come from.”