DOE Environmental Management Completes Majority Of 2020 Cleanup Priorities


In early 2020, Department of Energy Environmental Management (EM) set out an aggressive list of priorities for the coming year. As the year came to a close, EM accomplished the vast majority of its Calendar Year 2020 priorities, reaching major historic milestones that advanced its cleanup mission, according to a newly released scorecard. Notably, these accomplishments came amid the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our scorecard on EM’s 2020 mission priorities demonstrates remarkable progress by our cleanup workforce during a global pandemic,” EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White said. “I am inspired by the way the EM workforce pulled together in 2020, adapting and finding ways to boost productivity and teamwork while adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.”

Overall, 2020 was an inflection point for EM, as the workforce marked accomplishments across the DOE complex that resulted in transformational tank waste capabilities, historic skyline changes, and other major cleanup advancements, positioning EM for a decade of transformational progress.

At Oak Ridge, workers completed demolition at the East Tennessee Technology Park, making it the first site in the world to remove an entire uranium enrichment complex. At the Savannah River Site, crews began operations at the first-of-a-kind Salt Waste Processing Facility, the last major piece of the site’s liquid waste treatment system. The facility has the potential to process as much as 9 million gallons of liquid waste per year.

EM also achieved significant advancement of key components of DOE’s tank waste treatment mission at other sites, including Hanford, where workers made progress in construction, startup, and commissioning critical to the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste approach. EM’s small sites made significant accomplishments as well. At the Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project in Utah, workers reached a milestone 11 million tons of mill tailings shipped from a former uranium ore processing site in Moab to a disposal cell near Crescent Junction.

The 2020 priorities included:

  • Achieving significant construction project milestones
  • Executing key projects that enable the EM cleanup mission
  • Reducing the EM complex footprint
  • Awarding contracts that enable accelerated progress
  • Driving innovation and improved performance in the EM mission

These priorities position EM for sustainable success in its mission to complete the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy brought about from decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.

While not all of the priorities were fully accomplished, significant progress was made and EM looks forward to completing them in the future.

“While we were not able to check off every item on our 2020 priorities, the full list demonstrates our ambitious view of what the EM program is capable of achieving,” White said. “All of those with an interest in our work can use tools like this to gauge our progress for themselves.”

For more information on the breadth of EM’s accomplishments across the complex in 2020, please see the EM Year-in-Review. In addition, an equaling challenging list of priorities is being finalized for 2021 and EM looks forward to building on this year’s momentum to continue to move the clean-up mission forward.