Summary

Beginning with the Manhattan Project and continuing through the Cold War, the U.S. government constructed and operated a massive industrial complex to produce and test nuclear weapons and related technologies. When the Cold War ended, most of this complex was shut down permanently or placed on standby, and the government began a costly, long-term effort to clean up the wastes and environmental contamination resulting from its nuclear materials production.

In 1989, Congress created the Office of Environmental Management (EM) within the Department of Energy (DOE) to manage this cleanup effort. EM has made substantial progress—for example, decommissioning of the Rocky Flats Site, perhaps the nation’s most highly contaminated plutonium facility, in 2005, ahead of schedule and under budget. The site became a national wildlife refuge in 2007. EM has also completed other significant site cleanups.1 Nonetheless, the scope of EM’s remaining future cleanup work is enormous.

DOE’s fiscal year 2009 budget request put the potential cost of removing or remediating radioactive waste and other contamination at the sites between $265 billion and $305 billion over the next approximately 30 years.2 DOE has stated that the EM cleanup represents one of the most technically challenging and complex cleanup efforts in the world, and furthermore that the future course of the Department’s environmental cleanup



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Summary Beginning with the Manhattan Project and continuing through the Cold War, the U.S. government constructed and operated a massive industrial complex to produce and test nuclear weapons and related technologies. When the Cold War ended, most of this complex was shut down perma- nently or placed on standby, and the government began a costly, long-term effort to clean up the wastes and environmental contamination resulting from its nuclear materials production. In 1989, Congress created the Office of Environmental Management (EM) within the Department of Energy (DOE) to manage this cleanup ef- fort. EM has made substantial progress—for example, decommissioning of the Rocky Flats Site, perhaps the nation’s most highly contaminated plutonium facility, in 2005, ahead of schedule and under budget. The site became a national wildlife refuge in 2007. EM has also completed other significant site cleanups.1 Nonetheless, the scope of EM’s remaining future cleanup work is enormous. DOE’s fiscal year 2009 budget request put the potential cost of remov- ing or remediating radioactive waste and other contamination at the sites between $265 billion and $305 billion over the next approximately 30 years.2 DOE has stated that the EM cleanup represents one of the most technically challenging and complex cleanup efforts in the world, and fur- thermore that the future course of the Department’s environmental cleanup 1 See http://www.em.doe.gov/Pages/BudgetPerformance.aspx. 2 See http://www.cfo.doe.gov/budget/09budget/Content/Volumes/Volume5.pdf. 

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 ADVICE ON THE DOE’S CLEANUP TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP activities will depend on a number of fundamental technical and policy choices, many of which have yet to be made (DOE 2008a, p. 16). To enhance its cleanup efforts, EM has invested in scientific research and technology development. The funding for these investments has been inconsistent and generally decreasing from a peak of almost $410 million in fiscal year 1995 to around $20 million per year recently.3 There has, how- ever, been renewed interest in cleanup science and technology development, both within upper DOE management and in Congress, as well as among citizens who reside near the sites. The fiscal year 2007 House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Report4 requested that EM provide an engineering and technology roadmap to help justify future, sustained R&D support. The roadmap was to identify technology gaps in the current DOE site cleanup program and give a plan to address them. For assistance, EM’s Office of Engineering and Technology (EM-20) turned to the National Re- search Council of the National Academies, which empaneled a committee to undertake the study that it has described in this report. The committee carried out its task with the intent of assisting and strengthening EM’s roadmapping efforts. THE COMMITTEE’S TASK The technology roadmapping process has been widely used as a plan- ning tool in industry and government to match technology resources with desired product or process outputs. To assist EM with its Roadmap, the statement of task for this study (Chapter 1, Sidebar 1.2) directed the com- mittee to identify (1) principal science and technology gaps and their priori- ties for the cleanup program; (2) strategic opportunities to leverage needed research and development programs from other DOE programs, federal agencies, universities, and the private sector; (3) core capabilities at the national laboratories that will be needed to address EM’s long-term, high- risk cleanup challenges; and (4) infrastructure at national laboratories and EM sites that should be maintained to support research, development, and demonstrations of cleanup technologies. The committee was asked to focus on the DOE’s four major cleanup sites—the Hanford Reservation, Wash- ington; the Idaho National Laboratory (INL); the Oak Ridge Reservation (OR), Tennessee; and the Savannah River Site (SRS), South Carolina—and 3 EM’s appropriation for technology development and deployment (EM-20) was just over $21 million, about 0.4 percent of the total EM appropriation of about $5.7 billion in fiscal year 2008. The fiscal year 2009 request for EM-20 is just over $32 million. See http://www. em.doe.gov/Pages/budgetdocs.aspx. 4 House Report 109-474 to accompany H.R. 5427, Energy and Water Development Ap- propriations Bill, 2007.

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 SUMMARY to provide findings and recommendations on maintenance of core capabili- ties and infrastructure at the national laboratories and the sites. The committee began its study with a workshop in March 2007 at which it heard from DOE headquarters and site representatives, regula- tors, and citizens who described cleanup challenges and technology needs at Hanford, INL, OR, and SRS. The committee then visited these four sites and their associated national laboratories. An interim report was released in February 2008 to assist EM with its fiscal year 2009 planning (NRC 2008). Three observations from the interim report served to guide the committee’s subsequent deliberations that led to this report: Observation : The complexity and enormity of EM’s cleanup task require the results from a significant, ongoing R&D program so that EM can com- plete its cleanup mission safely, cost-effectively, and expeditiously. Observation : By identifying the highest cost and/or risk aspects of the site cleanup program, the EM roadmap can be an important tool for guiding DOE headquarters investments in longer-term R&D to support efficient and safe cleanup. Observation : The national laboratories at each site have special capabili- ties and infrastructure in science and technology that are needed to address EM’s longer-term site cleanup needs. The EM roadmap can help establish a more direct coupling of the national laboratories’ capabilities and infra- structures with EM’s needs. The committee’s final information-gathering meeting, in April 2008, addressed opportunities for EM to leverage its research with other organizations. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY GAPS To address its statement of task in a way it judged would be most use- ful to EM, the committee chose as its working definition that a gap is a shortfall in available knowledge or technology that could prevent EM from accomplishing a cleanup task on its expected schedule and/or budget. Fol- lowing the analogy of a roadmap, a science and technology gap is a pothole in the road that EM might somehow work around, but at the likely cost of time and money. It would be much better to fill the pothole or avoid it altogether with appropriate R&D. The committee used the major program areas in EM’s draft Engineer- ing and Technology Roadmap (DOE 2007a) to frame its gap identification, although it used its own deliberations and judgment to identify technology

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 ADVICE ON THE DOE’S CLEANUP TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP gaps. Chapter 2 of this report gives an assessment of each of these gaps: its context in the EM cleanup, its potential impacts, relevant work in progress, and suggestions for R&D to help bridge the gap. Each assessment also summarizes the committee’s rationale for prioritizing each gap, as required by the task statement. However, all gaps that the committee chose to de- scribe in this report have the potential to adversely affect EM’s ability to meet its cleanup milestones on time and/or on budget. The prioritization is therefore relative among gaps within each program area and all are sig- nificant enough to be roadmapped for R&D. For more detail regarding the committee’s gap analyses, see Chapter 2. Roadmap Program Area: Waste Processing • Substantial amounts of waste may be left in tanks/bins after their cleanout—especially in tanks with obstructions, compromised integrity, or associated piping (Priority: High). • Increased vitrification capacity may be needed to meet schedule requirements of EM’s high-level waste programs (High). • Low-activity streams from tank waste processing could contain substantial amounts of radionuclides (Medium). • New facility designs, processes, and operations usually rely on pilot-scale testing with simulated rather than actual wastes (Medium). • The baseline tank waste vitrification process significantly increases the volume of high-level waste to be disposed (Medium). • A variety of wastes and nuclear materials do not yet have a disposi- tion path (Low). Roadmap Program Area: Groundwater and Soil Remediation • The behavior of contaminants in the subsurface is poorly under- stood (High). • The long-term ability of cementitious materials to isolate wastes is not demonstrated (High). • Site and contaminant source characteristics may limit the useful- ness of EM’s baseline subsurface remediation technologies (Medium). • The long-term performance of trench caps, liners, and reactive bar- riers cannot be assessed with current knowledge (Medium). Roadmap Program Area: Facility Deactivation and Decommissioning (D&D) • D&D work relies on manual labor for building characterization, equipment removal, and dismantlement (High).

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 SUMMARY • Removing contamination from building walls, other surfaces, and equipment can be slow and ineffective (Medium). • Personal protective equipment tends to be heavy, hot, and limits movement of workers (Low). EXPERTISE AND INFRASTRUCTURE AT THE NATIONAL LABORATORIES AND EM SITES After reviewing the science and technology gaps identified in Chapter 2, the committee determined that in order to conduct R&D toward bridg- ing these gaps the sites and national laboratories will need to maintain the expertise and infrastructure for: • Handling radioactive materials, • Conducting engineering and pilot-scale tests, • Determining contaminant behavior in the environment, and • Utilizing state-of-the-art science to develop advanced technologies. These capabilities5 are described briefly below and in detail in Chapter 3. The capability to work with radioactive materials is fundamental to EM’s engineering and technology development. All of the national labo- ratories visited by the committee have this capability, which includes the ability to perform chemical analyses and provide health physics support. Comparable capability does not exist outside of the national laboratories. Laboratory personnel become qualified to work with radioactive materials almost exclusively through onsite training and experience. EM’s 30-year cleanup program cannot be sustained without this capability. Engineering and technology development activities include testing to provide basic parameters to design new processes and equipment (e.g., heat and mass transfer, mixing, and corrosion) and to demonstrate them at the pilot scale or larger. Capabilities for engineering and pilot-scale testing are needed to support R&D to address most of the gaps identified in Chapter 2. The capability to conduct engineering tests is not unique to the sites and national laboratories, but there are instances for which they are best suited—for example, the high-level waste tank mock-up facilities at Han- ford, INL, and SRS. Technicians and operators who have experience with the site problems that their work is addressing often contribute innovative, practical ideas for their solutions. Each of the DOE sites has a unique history in the disposal or release of contamination and unique geohydrological characteristics, which largely 5 “Capability” is used by the committee to refer to both personnel expertise and physical infrastructure.

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 ADVICE ON THE DOE’S CLEANUP TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP control the movement of these contaminants. Contamination has reached the groundwater at all four sites visited by the committee. Groundwater and soil remediation will likely continue for the duration of the EM cleanup. Capabilities for determining contaminant behavior in the environment are needed to support R&D to address all of the groundwater and soil gaps identified in Chapter 2. Some of these capabilities are unique to the sites and their associated national laboratories, including groundwater sampling facilities, experimental barriers against contaminant migration, and the ac- cumulated knowledge of site history and geohydrology among long-term employees. Presentations by the national laboratories during the committee’s site visits and by DOE’s Office of Science during the committee’s April 2008 meeting provided an overview of many advanced scientific capabilities ap- plicable to addressing the science and technology gaps identified in Chapter 2. Furthermore, it is clear that the state-of-the-art science and technology relevant to EM’s cleanup task will advance over the next 30 years of the EM cleanup in ways that can only be imagined today. While EM would not be expected to be a primary user or primary financial supporter of ad- vanced scientific facilities, it is essential that EM and the Office of Science continue close cooperation and coordination to ensure that EM is able to utilize state-of-the-art science and that the national laboratories put effort into solving EM’s unique problems. LEVERAGING ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT R&D WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS The committee paid special attention to this part of its task statement because EM’s Office of Engineering and Technology does not have the resources necessary to sustain all of the capabilities necessary for its R&D work, which are described in Chapter 3. As a consequence, a large portion of the R&D work that is needed by EM will involve partnering with other organizations. The committee judged that the effectiveness of EM’s efforts to leverage its R&D investments can be enhanced by: 1. Improving the Roadmap and using it as a central tool for EM’s R&D planning and for communicating its plans and programs to other organizations, including other DOE offices, federal agencies, and Congress, and 2. Better application of the basic principles of leveraging research, with recognition that legacy waste cleanup is a national responsibility that requires other organizations to partner willingly with EM.

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 SUMMARY To be successful in leveraging R&D, all participants in the collaboration must receive benefits from the partnership in order for it to be sustained. Moreover, all participants in the collaboration should bring something to the partnership that is needed by the other partners in the collaboration. This may range from financial resources to specific capabilities that other partners can build on and benefit from. In the planning and development of its Roadmap, details, time lines, and close interactions with potential leveraging partners can help ensure that there are viable connections between EM’s roadmapped objectives and the support it can negotiate with these partners. Notably the 2008 EM roadmap provides no time lines for its initiatives or connections between the initiatives and EM site cleanup milestones. This is rather like drawing a map by simply listing cities without placing them geographically on the map or showing highway interconnections. A much more useful EM roadmap will show when and how the initiatives address technology gaps such as those identified in this study. In identifying partnership opportunities, which can result in true le- veraging among the participant organizations (i.e., both organizations benefiting from the relationship), the committee wishes to reemphasize the necessary quid pro quo nature of these partnerships and the need to ensure that EM is fully vested to enter into such relationships as an equal partner. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The statement of task directed the committee to provide findings and recommendations, as appropriate, to EM on maintenance of core capabili- ties and infrastructure at national laboratories and EM sites to address its long-term, high-risk cleanup challenges. In carrying out its task, the com- mittee judged that EM’s Engineering and Technology Roadmap can be a key tool to ensure that core capabilities and infrastructure remain available to EM over the next 30 years of the site cleanup program. The committee’s findings and recommendations in Chapter 5 address two topics: (1) improving the Roadmap so that it clearly demonstrates the role of R&D in the EM cleanup mission, and (2) establishing R&D pro- grams that utilize national laboratory, site, and private-sector capabilities to bridge the science and technology gaps identified in Chapter 2. At the end of Chapter 5 the committee gives a concluding set of observations that may help strengthen future initiatives by the EM Office of Engineering and Technology to bring new technologies into the EM cleanup effort.

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0 ADVICE ON THE DOE’S CLEANUP TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP Improving the Roadmap FINDING: The EM Engineering and Technology Roadmap is an impor- tant and much needed tool for guiding DOE headquarters investments in longer-term R&D to support efficient and safe cleanup. FINDING: The current Roadmap describes technical risks in the EM site cleanup program and R&D initiatives to mitigate these risks. However, it does not connect these initiatives to major milestones in the EM cleanup program. RECOMMENDATION 1: EM’s Office of Engineering and Technology should update its 2008 Roadmap to include performance metrics and time- lines for accomplishing its R&D initiatives to ensure that results are useful and timely to meet EM’s site cleanup milestones. RECOMMENDATION 2: The DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management should require periodic, future updates of the Roadmap to ensure that it remains current with major mid- to long-term milestones in the cleanup program. At a minimum, the Roadmap should be updated at least every 4 years at an appropriate time to help ensure carryover of pro- grams and their rationales into new administrations. FINDING: EM is the DOE office designated to clean up the nuclear materials production sites of the Cold War. Cleaning up these legacy sites nevertheless remains a responsibility for all of DOE and the nation. EM cannot complete its mission without the active cooperation of other DOE offices and federal agencies. The Roadmap can be improved by specifying opportunities for cooperative work with the national laboratories and other DOE and federal agencies. RECOMMENDATION 3: The EM Office of Engineering and Technology, with support of the Secretary of Energy and the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, should engage other federal organizations (e.g., Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Environ- mental Protection Agency) and DOE offices (e.g., Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Energy, Office of Legacy Management) to specify Roadmap intersections with the others’ R&D programs to ensure that opportunities for joint work are recognized and implemented in timely fashion to produce results that are useful to EM. EM could do this by convening workshops at which participants ex- change information on their cleanup-relevant R&D programs and mile-

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 SUMMARY stones. The Office of Engineering and Technology did this to a limited extent in preparing the 2008 Roadmap. The workshops could be arranged to provide timely information for periodic updates of the Roadmap accord- ing to Recommendation 2. RECOMMENDATION 4: The DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management and the Office of Engineering and Technology should use the Roadmap as a primary means of communicating EM’s technology needs, R&D planning, and accomplishments within DOE, to other federal and state agencies, and ultimately to Congress. FINDING: The scientific and technical state of the art will evolve during the next 0 years of the EM site cleanup program, as will public expecta- tions for the cleanup goals. A robust EM science, engineering, and technol- ogy program will be required to keep up with these evolutions, to provide up-to-date bases for EM’s cleanup decisions, and to maintain a skilled workforce. RECOMMENDATION 5: EM and its Office of Engineering and Technol- ogy should include in its Roadmap the overarching themes of (1) main- taining state-of-the-art cleanup objectives as science, technology, and the public’s expectations evolve during the next 30 years; (2) maintaining and distributing up-to-date knowledge resources relevant to site cleanup; and (3) developing a balanced R&D portfolio that addresses short-, medium-, and long-term issues. In the first instance, the Roadmap might identify organizations respon- sible for providing technical data and timely R&D milestones to support key EM site cleanup decisions (e.g., the cleanup objective for a waste burial ground, a groundwater plume, or a decommissioned facility). In the second instance, the Roadmap might include objectives for hiring and retaining personnel, and for information archiving, at specified milestone times dur- ing the next 30 years. Bridging EM’s Science and Technology Gaps FINDING: The unique chemical, physical, and radiological properties of waste and contamination at the EM cleanup sites and the unique subsurface characteristics of the sites themselves require special capabilities of the sites and their associated national laboratories to sustain long-term R&D for EM’s 0-year cleanup program. These special capabilities include qualified, experienced personnel and facilities for radiochemical, engineering, and field experiments. It is Congress’s and DOE’s responsibility to maintain

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 ADVICE ON THE DOE’S CLEANUP TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP the national laboratories’ capabilities not only for cutting-edge scientific research but also for research applied to national problems such as DOE’s Cold War legacy cleanup. RECOMMENDATION 6: The EM Office of Engineering and Technology, with support from the Secretary of Energy and the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, should lay out in its Roadmap programs that include research in the following: • Radiochemistry of EM wastes and contaminants; • Long-term performance of cementitious materials; • Retrieval technology for high-level waste; • Alternative and advanced waste forms and production methods; • Rheology of waste sludges and slurries; • Long-term behavior of in-ground contaminants; • Advanced sensors, detectors, and data transmission technology for subsurface monitoring; • Advanced near-surface engineered barrier systems to control con- taminant release to the environment; and • Surface characterization of solid materials. Each of these recommended programs is described in Chapter 5. CONCLUSION At the beginning of the study the committee understood that the Road- map would be a living document to help plan, justify, and increase the effectiveness of EM’s R&D program in support of its site cleanup mission. The committee found that the Roadmap can be an important tool for en- hancing EM’s R&D efforts and has recommended detailed improvements and periodic updates of the Roadmap. We hope that this report with its findings and recommendations will be useful to DOE and to EM.