Appendix B
Summary of Previous Studies and Programs Aimed at Incorporating Risk into DOE Environmental Management Decision Making

1988-1989 PROGRAM OPTIMIZATION SYSTEM

In response to a congressional directive, the Program Optimization System (POS) was developed by the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a prioritization system for funding environmental restoration. The DOE Defense Programs unit was responsible for developing the program because cleanup activities at nuclear weapons facilities were not yet organizationally separate from other units. The goal of POS was to use a bottom-up approach in which facility managers specified where and how funding cuts would be made and estimated the consequences of those cuts. This system was used in late 1988 to help plan the FY 1990 budget request and six months later as a basis for determining allocations among field offices. The POS suggestions for radical changes to the allocation of funds across the complex had little impact on fund allocations, but DOE headquarters supported the system because it provided them with detailed documentation regarding cleanup problems at the field offices (Jenni et al., 1995).



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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste Appendix B Summary of Previous Studies and Programs Aimed at Incorporating Risk into DOE Environmental Management Decision Making 1988-1989 PROGRAM OPTIMIZATION SYSTEM In response to a congressional directive, the Program Optimization System (POS) was developed by the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a prioritization system for funding environmental restoration. The DOE Defense Programs unit was responsible for developing the program because cleanup activities at nuclear weapons facilities were not yet organizationally separate from other units. The goal of POS was to use a bottom-up approach in which facility managers specified where and how funding cuts would be made and estimated the consequences of those cuts. This system was used in late 1988 to help plan the FY 1990 budget request and six months later as a basis for determining allocations among field offices. The POS suggestions for radical changes to the allocation of funds across the complex had little impact on fund allocations, but DOE headquarters supported the system because it provided them with detailed documentation regarding cleanup problems at the field offices (Jenni et al., 1995).

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste External Review Group The DOE design team responsible for developing and implementing a risk-based priority system met with representatives from states, American Indian nations, national environmental groups, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) through an External Review Group. Meetings were held from the fall of 1989 through the final meeting in February 1991. The design team presented the POS that DOE had developed for prioritizing environmental restoration activities to the External Review Group as an example of one type of system. The External Review Group raised concerns about the system and, in a February 1990 consensus statement, declared that they opposed “DOE’s unilateral application of any prioritization system” (Jenni et al., 1995, p. 404). In response to this and other External Review Group concerns, the DOE design team created a hierarchy of criteria, including several that had not been included within the POS, such as uncertainty reduction and socioeconomic criteria. DOE also created a three-tiered screening component to address External Review Group concerns that any prioritization system give human health and the environment the highest priority and that DOE comply fully with all legal agreements. DOE developed plans for public involvement but did not specify how personnel in the field should carry out these plans. The system that was developed from the POS was called the Environmental Restoration Priority System, which is discussed in more detail below (Jenni et al., 1995). Creation of the Environmental Management Program The House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Procurement and Military Nuclear Systems held a hearing in February 1989 on the priority-setting process used by DOE in conducting environmental restoration activities at its nuclear weapons facilities. In April 1989, the governors of ten states sent Secretary of Energy James Watkins a letter calling for federal action on the establishment of a comprehensive national program for cleanup of all DOE facilities. The governors suggested the need for a national priority system for ensuring that the appropriate priorities for DOE cleanups were established (FFERDC, 1996, Appendix C). In July 1989, DOE reorganized to create the Office of Environmental Restoration and Waste Management, later renamed Environmental Management (EM), to oversee and manage environmental activities at all

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste DOE sites. Specific goals of the program included managing and eliminating urgent risks throughout the nuclear weapons complex, emphasizing the health and safety of workers and the public, and establishing stronger partnerships between DOE and its stakeholders. 1989 BRWM Letter Report In 1989, at the request of Secretary of Energy Watkins, the Board on Radioactive Waste Management (BRWM) of the National Research Council (NRC) issued a letter report reviewing DOE’s Predecisional Draft II of the Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Five-Year Plan. The DOE draft plan describes a 30-year cleanup program for ensuring that risks to human health and safety and the environment posed by DOE’s past, current, and future activities are either eliminated or reduced to safe levels (NRC, 1989a). In its report, the BRWM agrees with DOE that the development of a priority ranking system with input from affected parties is of crucial importance. The letter report states that DOE plans for a National Priority System to provide the basis for subsequent resource allocations could serve as a demonstration of DOE’s new openness by involving stakeholders in its development. The letter report emphasizes that the National Priority System will be useful only if it is developed through a credible process and recommends that DOE put in place a broadly supported allocation system negotiated among DOE, regulators, the states, American Indian nations, local governments, and interest groups during the program start-up, rather than later, when it may no longer be possible. The letter report also notes that DOE’s time frame for developing the system for setting priorities did not allow enough time to do it right, with an iterative process of public participation. The letter report endorses DOE’s goal of “striving toward ‘technically sound, risk-based standards’ with the observation that what is meant is really risk-based environmental requirements rather than ‘standards’” (NRC, 1989a). 1989 NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL REPORT ON THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMPLEX In 1989, Secretary of Energy Watkins, in response to a congressional directive asked the NRC to provide recommendations concerning the health, safety, and environmental issues arising throughout the nuclear

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste weapons complex and the steps that would enhance the safety of operations at the facilities. In the NRC report entitled, The Nuclear Weapons Complex: Management for Health, Safety, and the Environment, (NRC, 1989b), the NRC committee1 suggested that the evaluation of cleanup actions be guided by the consideration of contamination risks to human health and the environment. The NRC committee concluded that DOE needed to develop and apply a scientifically credible scheme to aid decision making about appropriate cleanup standards and priorities for remediation activities under resource constraints (NRC, 1989b). The committee reviewed the DOE Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Five-Year Plan that the BRWM reviewed in a letter report (see above) and suggested that DOE use risk-based methodologies to the extent permissible by law to guide it in setting priorities. The committee recommended that DOE seek to achieve site-specific cleanup standards. It also recommended that consistent risk assessment methodologies be used to bring scientific information into decisions regarding the extent of cleanup, cleanup methodologies, and priorities for environmental restoration. The committee noted that in order to ensure public acceptance of its cleanup decisions, DOE had to significantly increase public and state involvement in activities related to environmental issues at the sites (NRC, 1989b). 1990-1994 OPPORTUNITIES AND IMPEDIMENTS FOR RISK-BASED STANDARDS In January 1990, the Environmental and Occupational/Public Health Standards Steering Group “was established by the directors of 13 DOE laboratories to organize a broad long-term education and outreach and research program focused on better scientific and public understanding of the risk associated with hazardous agents in the environment and workplace” (Hunter et al., 1994, p. 864). The Steering Group was interested in environmental restoration at the DOE labs and sites, and supported risk-based standards for remediation as a logical way to manage risks to public health and the environment caused by contamination at DOE facilities. In July 1991, the Steering Group held a workshop to 1   The NRC formed a different ad hoc committee for each of the studies listed in this appendix. For simplicity, the same term (NRC committee) is used to refer to each of them.

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste evaluate the use of risk assessment as a principal mechanism for guiding the management of hazardous materials and site remediation across the United States. The Steering Group concluded that risk assessment techniques are a useful tool for decision making, but cautioned that risk analysis itself cannot determine the best course of action for an agency or an individual site. The Steering Group determined that effective risk management requires both scientific risk assessment and responsive consideration to public risk perceptions. It also concluded that the following are areas for additional effort in risk analysis: developing methods to reduce uncertainties in risk analysis; determining how quantitative data collected are used in decision making, such as whether risk managers should consider cost-benefit analyses in their decisions; and most importantly, making sure that decision makers and the public are able to comprehend the meaning of risk information communicated to them (Hunter et al., 1994). 1991 EVOLUTION OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION PRIORITY SYSTEM FROM THE PROGRAM OPTIMIZATION SYSTEM The External Review Group mentioned at the beginning of this appendix was created to participate in the DOE development of a risk-based priority system. The review group met twice with the DOE design team and commented on the Program Optimization System (see above). Evolution from the POS to the Environmental Restoration Priority System was influenced by the controversy that arose when DOE officials decided to use the POS to help plan for the FY 1992 budget without external involvement, as requested by the External Review Group. DOE’s response to the negative reaction of the External Review Group was to modify the POS and develop what was called an Environmental Restoration Priority System with three major differences: (1) it included socioeconomic criteria, activity screening, and information analysis; (2) it was not limited to DOE Defense Program facilities; and (3) it was to serve as an external tool, with outside involvement. (CRESP, 1999; Jenni et al., 1995). The quality of information available to support the scoring process differed dramatically across the complex, so scorers were directed to use the best possible information (Jenni et al., 1995). The Environmental Restoration Priority System (ERPS) was reviewed in 1991 by the Technical Review Group (TRG), an ad hoc peer committee. The TRG stated that the system was useful for ordering pri-

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste orities, but was inappropriate for determining the budget for environmental restoration. The TRG recommended that the ERPS be used only to allocate funds among the DOE facilities. The TRG also noted that the system conflicted with regulatory requirements such as compliance agreements. DOE heard these same concerns again at a national workshop it held in October (Jenni et al., 1995; NRC, 1994b). 1991-1994 RANKING HAZARDOUS WASTE SITES FOR REMEDIAL ACTION The NRC Committee on Remedial Action Priorities for Hazardous Waste Sites examined how priority setting was being used or considered by federal and state agencies to rank hazardous waste sites for remedial priority. The project was sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. EPA, DOE, the American Petroleum Institute, Monsanto, and the Coalition on Superfund (NRC, 1994b). The committee compared DOE, DOD, and U.S. EPA programs and determined that none had developed an overall priority-setting process that was explicit, adequately documented, and sufficiently open to scientific and public scrutiny. The committee found that the formal mathematical models developed to aid in the priority-setting process played little role in determining which sites were ultimately remediated. It noted that site-ranking models would play a greater role in priority-setting processes if they incorporated social and economic values to a greater extent, and if users and the public were more confident in the model outcomes (NRC, 1994b). The committee reviewed DOE’s Environmental Restoration Priority System (ERPS) and although there was not enough information to make a credible evaluation of the system as an objective ranking of sites for remediation, the committee noted that such a model would greatly assist in addressing conflicts by providing a more objective evaluation of the sites that should be cleaned up first and the degree of cleanup desired. The committee noted, as had others, that DOE had many preexisting compliance agreements that would override the relative evaluations of sites provided by the priority system. In 1993 the committee learned that DOE had decided not to use the system, (Jenni et al., 1995; NRC, 1994b) and Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Thomas Grumbly announced that technical problems combined with a lack of involvement by regulators or the public led to the postponement of the system’s implementation (Jenni et al., 1995).

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste 1991-1996 KEYSTONE DIALOGUE AND KEYSTONE REPORT In 1991, the Keystone Center, at the request of U.S. EPA convened meetings on the National Policy Dialogue on Federal Facility Environmental Management. Meeting participants included representatives from American Indian governments, local citizen groups, DOD, DOE, and U.S. EPA. The group discussed the role of health assessments and the consideration of risk in setting priorities for federal facility cleanup; how American Indian cultural issues should be factored into the priority-setting process; and the role that various governmental and nongovernmental entities should play in setting priorities for federal facility cleanups (FFERDC, 1996). In February 1993, the Federal Facilities Environmental Restoration Dialogue Committee (FFERDC) published an interim report entitled Recommendations for Improving the Federal Facilities Environmental Restoration Decision-Making and Priority-Setting Process (FFERDC, 1993), known as the Keystone Report. This report established a “fair-share” process for setting funding priorities for remediation activities among different facilities in the event of insufficient funds. Risk reduction was included among the factors to be considered in the fair-share process (FFERDC, 1993). In 1996, the FFERDC set forth its consensus recommendations in The Final Report of the Federal Facilities Environmental Restoration Dialogue Committee: Consensus Precipices and Recommendations for Improving Federal Facilities Cleanup (FFERDC, 1996). The FFERDC recommended that priority setting at the facility level not be limited to prioritizing the relative risks posed by site contamination but instead go further to include prioritizing the activities that are designed to clean up the contamination. It noted that relative risks will have a bearing on the setting of priorities for cleanup activities but should not become the de facto priorities. The FFERDC supported the use of “risk plus other factors,” in which risk to human health and the environment and other factors2 are carefully considered in advance of the need to make priority- 2   Cultural, social, and economic factors, including environmental justice considerations; potential or future land use; ecological impacts of contamination and the proposed action to address it; regulator, American Indian nations, and other stakeholder acceptance of actions; statutory requirements and legal agreements; life-cycle costs; taking into consideration the ability to execute cleanup projects in a given year and the feasibility of carrying out the activity in relation to other

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste setting decisions at site-specific and national levels. The FFERDC noted that the priorities used in risk-based decision making for cleanup budgets should be set with the agreement of regulators and in consultation with stakeholders (FFERDC, 1996). The FFERDC recommended that all key decision makers adhere to the following when using risk assessments: (1) scientific uncertainties and data limitations should be delineated clearly in laymen’s terms as part of the analysis of risk; (2) stakeholders should be involved at the front end in the analysis of risk and risk reduction potential, and risk management and broader priority setting decisions based upon the analyses; and (3) communicate the assumptions used in conducting risk assessments should be communicated at the front end so that the results may be better understood (FFERDC, 1996). 1993 BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY AND LAWRENCE LIVERMORE NATIONAL LABORATORY PILOT STUDY The DOE Office of Environmental Restoration and Waste Management funded a study by researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 1993, a report documenting the results of a pilot study involving the Savannah River Site, Fernald Environmental Management Project, and Nevada Test Site was released. The report focused on lessons learned in human health risk assessments and was meant to demonstrate realistic risk assessments; produce estimates for the problems studied; and provide suggestions for changing the way in which risk assessments were conducted at DOE facilities. The authors recommended “the initiation of a systematic approach to identify, prioritize, and reduce sources of uncertainty in risk assessments at DOE facilities” (Hamilton et al., 1993, p. 26). The authors stated that in choosing remediation options, identifying acceptable contamination levels, and in prioritizing sites for cleanup resources, DOE must also consider the amount of risk reduction to workers and the public that could be achieved by using particular remedies. The authors noted a need for the development of data, assumptions, and methods to assess the risk reductions associated with the remedies likely to be selected for DOE facilities (Hamilton et. al., 1993).     activities at the facility; overall cost and effectiveness of a proposed activity; and actual and anticipated funding availability.

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste 1993-1994 NRC REPORT ON BUILDING CONSENSUS In September 1993, DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Grumbly, asked the National Research Council to help him “focus on whether a risk-based approach to evaluating the consequences of alternative [cleanup] actions is feasible and desirable” and how public credibility of the process can be improved (NRC, 1994c). The NRC committee noted that to be most effective and useful, the procedures and institutions adopted for risk assessment should satisfy several objectives: (1) they must be credible to stakeholders and the general public; (2) they must operate expeditiously without threatening scientific validity; (3) they should consider the full range of risks of concern to stakeholders in the light of social, religious, historical, political, land use, and cultural values and needs; and (4) they should be efficient and cost-effective and should produce results that contribute to the identification of remedies and priorities that are themselves efficient and cost-effective. The NRC committee stated that the first and likely the most important step in effective risk assessment and risk management is to establish broad public participation that involves all stakeholders (NRC, 1994c). The NRC committee also recommended that DOE establish a culture receptive to the adoption of risk-based thinking as a component of making remediation decisions. The committee noted that DOE’s decentralized management approach allowed the creation of many different perspectives on, and applications of, risk assessment, which led to lack of communication across sites in the complex (NRC, 1994c). To ensure credibility, the NRC committee suggested the creation of two boards: (1) a national stakeholder oversight board with representatives from various groups; and, (2) a national scientific board that could help to maintain consistently high standards in risk assessment by reviewing drafts of risk assessments, providing broad advice about methodological consistency, and helping to ensure national consistency in the plans (NRC, 1994c). 1994 CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE STUDY At the request of the chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Panel of the House Committee on Armed Services, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) conducted an examination of the central issues accounting for the potential costs of DOE’s cleanup program. The CBO

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste stated that in order to make informed decisions, DOE needed better information about the risks posed by wastes in the nuclear weapons complex. CBO noted that DOE’s lack of comprehensive risk measures for facility contamination hampered its planning efforts because the information collected by various sites and offices had not been coordinated into a unified framework that would facilitate comparisons. CBO also noted that a better understanding of risks would allow for informed debate among interested and affected stakeholders about how much risk is acceptable and how soon cleanup levels should be reached. Understanding risks enables the identification of trade-offs between risks and costs to assist policy makers in setting the appropriate goals and priorities for cleanup. CBO stated that in situations involving budgetary constraints, DOE will have to decide, in consultation with regulators, stakeholders, and Congress, which cleanup activities to defer. CBO also noted that before DOE makes choices about how to conduct cleanup projects it should determine final land uses in conjunction with stakeholders (CBO, 1994). 1994-1995 RISK REPORT TO CONGRESS In response to concerns about DOE’s ability to meet certain compliance goals and schedules for cleanup, Public Law 103-126, enacted on October 28, 1993, required the secretary of energy to submit by June 30, 1995, “a report to the Committees on Appropriations evaluating the risks to the public health and safety posed by the conditions at weapons complex facilities that are addressed by the compliance agreement requirements” (U.S. Congress, cited in CERE, 1995, pp. 1-2). Congress did not request an exhaustive, formal risk assessment; instead it directed DOE to “estimate the risk addressed by cleanup requirements on the basis of the best scientific evidence available” (U.S. Congress, cited in CERE, 1995, pp. 1-2). In 1994, the EM Office of Integrated Risk Management was created to respond to the congressional mandate for a report evaluating the risks of the nuclear weapons complex to human health and the environment. The office mission was to develop policy, requirements, and guidance for ensuring coherent risk-based environmental decision-making processes and involving concerned and affected stakeholders in developing risk management decisions (DOE, 1995b). In March 1995, the Consortium for Environmental Risk Evaluation (CERE) interim report to DOE entitled Health and Ecological Risks at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Weapons Complex: A Qualita-

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste tive Evaluation was released (CERE, 1995). CERE prepared this interim report to assist the DOE Office of Integrated Risk Management in fulfilling the congressional request for a report on risks. The report was intended to provide an independent qualitative evaluation of risks to the health and safety of the public, American Indian nations, workers, and the environment. The report was also to identify important information gaps, key uncertainties, and issues of concern to interested and affected parties (CERE, 1995, p. ES-1). CERE’s findings confirmed that DOE should continue to manage previously identified risks involving contaminated areas and facilities and the storage of radioactive and toxic waste materials. The CERE interim report concluded that there were no significant risks to the public, American Indian tribal health, workers, or the ecosystem as long as continued facility management, limits to human access, and site remediation existed (CERE, 1995). The CERE noted that its …findings and conclusions do not provide a stand-alone basis for revision of plans or budget levels, either within an installation, or between installations. The usefulness of CERE’s investigation is in providing an overview of risks that may serve as one input among many in the deliberations on future EM funding… CERE’s work should not be considered as providing definitive answers to the difficult and complex questions of assessing the risks at the six DOE installations Limitations of the report as noted by the CERE (1995) and others (CTUIR, 1995; EMAB, 1995) are discussed in the summaries below. NUCLEAR RISKS IN TRIBAL COMMUNITIES In March 1995 the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) issued a report for DOE entitled Scoping Report: Nuclear Risks in Tribal Communities to “advocate reform of current risk assessment practice in order to make risk assessment a more effective tool for public policy and environmental management decision making” (CTUIR, 1995, p. 1). The report states that issues of importance to American Indian nations were not being addressed by risk assessment. These issues include the unique and multiple use of treaty-reserved rights and resources for subsistence, ceremonial, cultural, or religious practices; the multiple exposure pathways that result from cultural resource uses that are not included in typical exposure scenarios; how tribal community

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste draft WM PEIS and invited public comments. A controversial and oft-repeated issue raised during the public comment period was the potential human health impacts of treatment, storage, and disposal of wastes. Specific concerns were raised about risk assessment methodologies used in the analysis; risks to minority, low-income, and densely populated areas; risks associated with subsistence fishing in some communities; impacts on future generations; and impacts of additional exposures on populations affected by other DOE activities. Of the changes that DOE made in the WM PEIS to respond to comments about risk, the environmental justice analysis was modified to better determine whether disproportionately high and adverse health impacts on minority or low-income communities could occur, and the chapter on cumulative impacts was revised to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of other DOE actions that may affect the sites (DOE, 1997b; see also Harris and Harper, 1999). 1997-1998 HUMAN HEALTH RISK COMPARISONS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BASELINE PROGRAMS AND INTEGRATION OPPORTUNITIES In May 1997, a contractor team issued a report on its analysis of the complex-wide baseline programs and alternatives. A separate report was issued in February 1998, documenting the human health risk models developed for the baselines and alternatives (Eide et al., 1998). A simplified risk model was developed to provide a consistent, comprehensive, and quantitative human health risk picture for the baseline activities and their alternatives; to evaluate the alternative program risks relative to the baseline program risks; and to provide a model that could be used to answer stakeholder questions about risk. The risk model was used for human health and safety risk from normal, incident- free operations and accidents, and did not include programmatic or environmental impact risks. The risk model was developed for activities involving high-level waste, transuranic waste, low-level waste, mixed-level waste, and spent nuclear fuel. A typical risk model analysis consists of the following steps: (1) information collection, (2) development of a system flow diagram (disposition map), (3) breakdown of the system flow diagram into more basic risk states (e.g., disposal and specific material storage), (4) characterization of the curie and/or chemical flows through the system, (5) development of risk matrices, (6) combining individual risk matrix results into system risk results, and (7) if more detailed analyses are

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste available, comparing them with simplified risk model’s risk estimates (Eide et al., 1998). 1997 PROJECT BASELINE SUMMARIES AND THE 2006 CLEANUP PLAN In July 1996, DOE Assistant Secretary Alm “articulated a vision for the EM program of completing as much cleanup as possible by 2006” by accelerating the cleanup of EM sites and reducing the overall life-cycle costs of the EM program while staying in compliance with applicable environmental and legal requirements (DOE, 1997c, p. 1). As part of this national cleanup plan, by the fall of 1997 each field office was required to submit a project baseline summary to headquarters for every project approved. Risk was to be considered in setting priorities at and across sites, sequencing project work, measuring progress, and showing that EM was addressing the most urgent risks first. Project managers were required to perform a qualitative evaluation of risks to workers, the public, and the environment associated with each project, following a screening evaluation to determine the need and appropriate level of detail for risk evaluation. The risk evaluation was intended to build upon previous evaluations and to address the interest and concerns of regulators, stakeholders, and American Indian nations. For each applicable risk category of public, worker, and environment, the level of risk was defined by the intersection of two qualitatively assessed parameters (i.e., impact and likelihood), and the risk was classified as urgent, high, medium, low, or not applicable (CRESP, 1999). 1997 CRESP REVIEW OF DOE-EM RISK INFORMATION In 1997, Assistant Secretary Alm endorsed two meetings convened by CRESP to discuss how to improve the content and format of the risk elements in DOE’s risk database. CRESP recommended that EM continue to consider risks to workers, the public, and the environment and pay greater attention to how risks to workers and the public may arise from remediation activities. The group suggested that DOE revise the current EM risk database format and pilot-test the revised risk matrix to evaluate projects prior to final submission to headquarters. CRESP also recommended screening the revised database to identify circumstances in which further risk assessment is not needed. Finally, CRESP recom-

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste mended including site personnel with the training and experience necessary to help in devising a credible database of risk information (CRESP, 1997). 1998 ACCELERATING CLEANUP: PATHS TO CLOSURE Released in June 1998, Accelerating Cleanup: Paths to Closure (DOE, 1998b) provided a vision for completing site cleanup at 53 DOE sites by 2006, with the remaining 10 sites, including 5 of the largest sites continuing treatment for legacy waste streams. Each field office was required to provide information in the form of the project baseline summaries (see above), which were management tools intended for the development of detailed projections of scope, schedule, and cost (baselines) for each site, based on the aggregation of logical, discrete units of work (DOE, 1998b, p. 2-3). According to the report, the project baseline summaries were the main source of site information for headquarters and provided detailed information about each project’s programmatic risks, technical approaches, end states, life-cycle performance measurements, annual performance targets, and other information such as data on risk, health, and safety. However, the main focus of this report was on programmatic risk, which DOE describes as associated with project cost, schedule, and performance, rather than risks to workers, the public, or the environment. The categories of risk defined in the report are technology, scope, and intersite dependence (DOE, 1998b). CRESP Review of Project Baseline Summaries and Paths to Closure The Peer Review Committee of CRESP (1999) stated that the Project Baseline Summary program failed because DOE did not have a clear basis for understanding or classifying risks, there were inconsistencies in implementation, assessments were inadequate and not well documented, and the summaries were not accepted by field offices. As defined in the national 2006 cleanup plan, the risk assessments did not require adequate evaluation of the exposure receptors of concern or of the toxicity of constituents of concern, which are of fundamental importance to any risk characterization. This management tool did not prove useful for comparing risks across sites; instead it was useful for comparing the value of projects at a single site. Without a clear and transparent definition of the basis for classifying risks and without consistent application of the proc-

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste ess across all sites and projects, it would be difficult to track project progress adequately and make it credible and acceptable to stakeholders (CRESP, 1999; see also Gephart, 2003). After 1998, risk information for this program was no longer developed (GAO, 2002). As the CRESP peer review of Paths to Closure notes, risks in the report focus on the risks to cost, schedule, and technical performance resulting from failure to complete a given activity or schedule. The peer review committee states that with “no specific reference in the report to reduction of risks to health and the environment,” it gives the appearance that risks to health and the environment have been incorporated into the planning of projects and thus do not have to be mentioned or are unimportant (CRESP, 1999, p. 32). The CRESP review committee notes that it is significant that traditional questions about risks to human health and the environment, risk reduction, and the allocation of funds across the complex to address risks were not included more directly in the report (CRESP, 1999). 1997-1999 CENTER FOR RISK EXCELLENCE AND RISK PROFILES The DOE Center for Risk Excellence (CRE) was created by EM to support the development of integrated risk programs and risk-based decision making. The CRE, which operated through 2002, provided an online resource for evaluation of EM risk guidelines, requirements, and policies, and was intended as a focal point for integrating science-based information for risk practitioners and others interested in risk analysis and for facilitating involvement by stakeholders, including other agencies, in the risk evaluation process (CRE, no date). The CRESP review committee reported that the risk profiles were presented in a 1999 draft report entitled Results and Status of Environmental Management Site Risk Profiles: Public Hazard Management at Ten DOE Field Offices (CRE, 1999, cited in CRESP, 1999). This report resulted from a collaborative effort of CRE, the 10 field offices, and the EM Office of Science and Risk Policy to characterize the risks addressed by EM activities. The five stated objectives of the risk profiles are (1) to provide broad site-level risk information; (2) to make effective use of existing data from the sites; (3) to present clear information to a variety of audiences in support of the budget process and in response to outside requests for summary risk information; (4) to develop and follow an objective and repeatable evaluation of EM progress over time; and (5) to

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste seek and incorporate extensive site and stakeholder input. CRESP reviewed the report and states that, in general, the report does not meet its stated objectives. The reviewers state that the report should be construed as a hazard profile, rather than a risk profile report. It was found that although the report contains detailed volume and waste-type information for each site, essential information for evaluating the associated risks is not consistently and adequately documented. The terms risk and hazard are used interchangeably and inconsistently throughout the report, causing confusion and ambiguity. Graphs in the report depicting relative change in site hazard or risk over time for each waste type do not answer the fundamental question of how and to what extent a given reduction in hazard corresponds to a reduction in risk. The report also failed to address ecological or occupational risks (CRESP, 1999, p. 34). In 2001, DOE eliminated the support group responsible for assisting the sites with this effort, and the risk profiles were generally no longer developed (CRESP, 1999). 1998 DOE GUIDELINES FOR RISK-BASED PRIORITIZATION OF DOE ACTIVITIES These guidelines were issued as a Defense Programs standard approved for use by all DOE “components” (offices and programs) and their contractors. These guidelines suggest that the most important first steps in risk-based prioritization may be the initial structuring and formulation of the problem and decision to be made, the decision objectives or goals to be reached, and any available options or alternatives for reaching these goals. The use of multiattribute utility theory is suggested because it is a quantitative-based decision analysis technique and management tool that provides a demonstrated way to combine quantitatively dissimilar measures of costs, risks, and benefits, along with decision-maker preferences, into high-level aggregated measures that can be used to evaluate alternatives. The risk-based prioritization is intended as an analysis of the predicted costs, risks, and benefits of various activities as a method for aiding decision makers with resource allocation, planning, and scheduling decisions. The guidelines state that the following characteristics are to be used for evaluating the quality of a prioritization system: (1) logical soundness, (2) completeness, (3) accuracy, (4) acceptability, (5) practicality, (6) effectiveness, (7) defensibility, and (8) quantification of costs and benefits (DOE, 1998c).

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste The risk-based prioritization standard provides guidance to decision makers for developing a clear understanding of how policy issues will be addressed in structuring prioritization efforts. One recommendation is for decision makers to be prepared to reprioritize each time new information is introduced, by either preparing contingency plans in the eventuality that the factors driving the preferred decision may change before the decision is fully carried out or planning for a “living schedule” in which new information is processed regularly in an ongoing prioritization, so activities or allocations always reflect the most up-to-date information. Decision makers should make a determination of the threshold guidance for whether risk-based prioritization and the standard should be implemented, how a graded approach should be employed for the decisions made, and how the approach should be adapted to the decision context (DOE, 1998c). 1998 OUTCOME-ORIENTED RISK PLANNING Supported by the EM Office of Science and Risk Policy, the Joint Institute for Energy and Environment (JIEE) produced a series of reports directed toward DOE management that focused on a process for outcome-oriented risk planning as an alternative to the EM status quo and aimed to stimulate dialogue about implementing the lowest-cost, risk-based cleanup that is realistic about restrictions imposed by regulatory requirements and technical uncertainties. The authors suggest that in order for EM to lead arbitration over budgets, timeframes, endstates, and long-term stewardship, it must be able to place issues within a common framework and relate them to other relevant aspects of cleanup. EM must also be able to demonstrate the trade-offs associated with alternatives and the impacts they will have on the cleanup process. The authors state that this means “defining the process that will lead to program decisions and not to making the decisions themselves” (Bjornstad et al., 1998, p. 4). The authors suggest a series of seven steps for achieving outcome-oriented risk planning; (1) separate community desires for additional funding from community desires for effective cleanup; (2) reorient cleanup from inputs to outputs—a logical output is the reduction and management of risks that result from the wastes and materials being cleaned up; (3) build the already existing risk principles, databases describing physical attributes of the wastes, established uses of risk for project prioritization, and risk material developed by other agencies; (4) create a risk-planning system tailored to DOE cleanup needs by combin-

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste ing the risk principles with the particular attributes of the EM mission; (5) conduct a demonstration phase before formal implementation of a new risk-planning system that could serve to both anticipate possible analytical pitfalls and overcome EM inertia; (6) systematically begin to integrate the risk planning into the EM management system; and (7) reorient cleanup from hazard elimination to risk management and from partnering waste inventories with best available technologies to associating inventories with the appropriate risk levels (Bjornstad et al., 1998, pp. 4-10). 1999-2000 INTEGRATOR OPERABLE UNIT AND COMPOSITE ANALYSES The 1999 CRESP review committee observed a gap between DOE Environmental Management activities that are necessary to comply with various environmental statutes and regulations and those generated by a risk evaluation across the complex. The review committee noted that successful accomplishment of DOE’s environmental management mission at large sites containing multiple sources of contamination will require that interim measures necessitated by relevant regulatory requirements be appropriately linked to the long-term goal of completing the overall cleanup process and ensuring lasting protection against risks from any residual hazards that may remain at a given site. Conducting source-by-source analysis and cleanup only, is inefficient at large sites and may not adequately capture the full scope of current and potential risks (CRESP, 1999). The integrator operable units and composite analyses were an attempt to link risk concepts with regulatory innovations. 2002 GAO REVIEW OF DOE’S COMPLIANCE AGREEMENTS The General Accounting Office reviewed DOE’s compliance agreements from July 2001 through May 2002 (GAO, 2002). The GAO found that DOE’s compliance agreements are site specific and are not intended as a way to manage environmental risks across the DOE complex. DOE had not developed a comprehensive, relative ranking of the risks that it faces across its sites and, as a result could not systematically make decisions among sites based on risk. The compliance agreements do not include information on risks being addressed, nor do they provide a means of prioritizing among sites; therefore, they do not provide a basis for de-

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste cision making across all sites. Instead, DOE was providing relatively stable funding to its sites each year and generally allowed local stakeholders to determine site priorities for sequencing work. The GAO discussed DOE’s current initiative to improve the cleanup program and how accelerated risk reduction was identified as a central theme of the top-to-bottom review of the EM program, which is discussed below (DOE, 2002d). GAO identified “following through on its plan to develop and implement a risk-based method to prioritize its various cleanup activities” as one of the two main challenges for DOE going forward with its initiative to accelerate risk reduction and reduce cleanup costs (GAO, 2002, p. 27). 2002 DOE REVIEW OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM In August 2001, DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Jessie Roberson, created the Top-to-Bottom Review Team, which was tasked with conducting a programmatic review of EM and its management systems, with the goal of making recommendations for how to improve program performance quickly and significantly. On February 2, 2002, the top-to-bottom review of the Environmental Management Program was released (DOE, 2002d). One of the major findings of the review was that the EM complex-wide cleanup strategy is not based on a coherent, comprehensive, technically supported prioritization of risks. Many wastes are managed according to their origins, rather than risks. This approach has resulted in expensive waste management and disposition strategies that are not proportional to risks posed to human health and the environment. The review team recommended that DOE move EM to an accelerated, risk-based cleanup strategy by initiating an effort to examine how current DOE orders, requirements, and regulatory agreements are addressing risk reduction, and that it begin conversations with regulators to work toward achieving regulatory agreements that reduce risk based on technical risk evaluation. The following steps were suggested for incorporating this new strategy: (1) cleanup work should be prioritized to achieve the greatest risk reduction at an accelerated rate; (2) realistic approaches to cleanup and waste management should be based on technical risk evaluation, with consideration given to anticipated future land uses, points of compliance, and points of evaluation; (3) cleanup agreements should be assessed for their contribution to reducing risk to workers, the public, and the environment; and (4) waste

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste acceptance criteria at facilities for permanent disposal should be reevaluated to identify other waste streams that could be sent to these facilities without increasing risk to workers, the public, or the environment (DOE, 2002d, p. ES-4). 2003 THE ROLE OF RISK AND FUTURE LAND USE IN CLEANUP AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Following the EM top-to-bottom review, DOE project teams were set up to implement some of the review’s recommendations. The team examining “risk-based end states” asked 36 DOE sites to complete a self-assessment questionnaire. Based on the results, the authors concluded that although there are some “laws and regulations that take risk into account, the lack of site-specific data on exposures and risk scenarios, and the lack of attention to future land use or end states has potentially resulted in a disconnect between risk and cleanup, risk and final end states, and the cleanup levels and end state or subsequent land use” (Burger et al., 2003, p. 10). Considering the final end state before and during cleanup can ensure that risk and other factors inform the decisions (Burger et al., 2003). The authors provide the following recommendations to DOE: (1) risk balancing should occur consistently at all cleanup sites and should involve regulators, state and tribal governments, and other stakeholders; (2) risk balancing should occur among remediation sites, methods, and schedules (balance risks of acting now against those of delaying until better technologies are available); (3) risk balancing should occur among DOE facilities to address environmental management in a consistent pattern (understand risks before making budget decisions; consider site-wide tradeoffs, and include the participation of American Indian and local government officials, regulators, and other stakeholders); (4) risk, remediation decisions, and future land use designations should be consistent; (5) types of stakeholder participation and information transfer categories should be consistent; (6) tools to meld risk, cleanup goals, and end states should be available to all DOE sites; and, (7) decision-matrix tools for risk balancing should be further developed and made available to all sites (Burger et al., 2003, pp. 11-13).

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste 2003 DOE POLICY ON THE USE OF RISK-BASED END STATES DOE Policy 455.1 on the use of risk-based end states was approved on July 15, 2003. The goal of this policy is the reevaluation of DOE’s cleanup activities to ensure that DOE actions are appropriate for, and aligned with, the end state conditions it aims to achieve. This policy requires each site to formulate a risk-based end state vision “in cooperation with regulators, and in consultation with affected governments and American Indian nations, and stakeholders (as appropriate)” (DOE, 2003, p. 2). After the vision document is developed, sites should create an implementation plan that assesses current cleanup strategies and baselines at each site, to bring them into line with the end state vision. As needed, sites will work with regulators to modify site cleanup strategies, agreements, and baselines and will then update the baselines and performance plans to be consistent with the end state strategy. Sites are required to incorporate the following elements in their efforts to achieve risk-based end states: base the end states on integrated site-wide perspectives, including current and future land use, rather than isolated operable units or release sites. Use the end states as the basis for exposure scenarios developed in the baseline risk assessments that help establish acceptable exposure levels for developing remediation alternatives. Cleanup strategies and decision documents should include risk reduction measures, life-cycle costs, uncertainties, and other relevant policy factors. When remedies result in long-term stewardship, risk control concepts should include institutional controls that are layered, redundant, and commensurate with the risks to maintain protection of human health and the environment. All federal, state, and treaty requirements must be complied with, and when the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is the governing statute, all nine CERCLA remedy selection criteria must be evaluated. Site managers should establish communication plans for working with stakeholders through all phases of preparation of the site vision. Once the end state is achieved, DOE will address how it plans to manage “the impacts of future risks, uncertainties, and vulnerabilities, including the creation of contingency plans and the identification of responsible parties in the event that site conditions change after cleanup is completed” (DOE, 2003, p. 3).

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Risk and Decisions: About Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level Radioactive Waste Guidance to Support Implementation of DOE Policy 455.1 On September 22, 2003, EM issued guidance to assist sites in developing the draft risk-based end state (RBES) vision documents. This guidance provides the steps that sites must use for RBES documents. Historically, land use plans, site maps, and conceptual site models, were generated by the sites using a variety of tools and procedures. In contrast, the guidance uses a standardized approach for generating and using site maps and conceptual site models. The guidance requests site maps that present and allow comparisons between current and future land use and enable graphical depictions of hazards and the associated risks, as well as the affected receptors or populations. The maps should serve as a tool to aid in management decisions at the sites and headquarters. They should also be used for communication and risk assessment tools for discussions with state and federal regulators and with the public about cleanup activities, requirements, and future land use. Conceptual site models, which provide information on hazards, pathways, receptors, and barriers between hazards and receptors, are integral to the RBES approach since they are used as an additional means for communicating risk information to DOE managers, regulators, and the general public (Roberson, 2003a). On December 9, 2003, at the request of site managers, Assistant Secretary Roberson extended the deadlines for submitting the draft RBES documents to headquarters from October 31, 2003, to February 1, 2004, and the final RBES vision document to March 30, 2004 (Roberson, 2003b). On December 23, 2003, Gene Schmitt, the DOE deputy assistant secretary for environmental cleanup and acceleration, issued an RBES guidance clarification to respond to the RBES vision documents received at headquarters up to that date. There appeared to be confusion and misinterpretation of the intent of the guidance. Therefore, the guidance clarification document explained that the RBES vision documents were intended as a means for sites to communicate to readers the current state of cleanup progress at the site and alternative end states. Thus, it was expected that the documents would be used to examine future actions based on alternative scenarios associated with land use plans, hazard information, and risk assessments, rather than only to describe current and planned cleanup actions (Schmitt, 2003).