Executive Summary

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) established its office of Environmental Management (EM) in 1989 to oversee the cleanup of hazardous materials at DOE facilities throughout the United States. Due to the public health risks associated with some of those hazardous materials and the high costs of remediation, technologies developed and used for environmental management must be cost effective and achievable with acceptable risks. To help ensure that these critical objectives are achieved, DOE's Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, Thomas Grumbly, asked the National Research Council (NRC) to review and evaluate the DOE's Environmental Management (DOE-EM) technology-development program. In response to this request, the NRC's Committee on Environmental Management Technologies (CEMT) was established in 1994 to provide DOE-EM with continuing independent review and recommendations on technology development and use.

In addition to the main committee, CEMT formed five subcommittees to address the unique issues relevant to developing technologies for environmental remediation. These five areas, which parallel DOE's focus areas, are defined in the Introduction of this report.

Based on DOE presentations, discussions with DOE staff, and review of DOE documents concerning technology development within EM, the committee has concluded that the DOE-EM's overall program approach based on the focus areas and cross-cutting technologies is a promising one. During the past year, however, DOE-EM has made only limited progress in implementing the recommendations of the committee's first-year report (NRC, 1995). A great deal more needs to be done before the DOE-EM has a vital, focused, and coordinated technology-development program sufficient to support the technically and organizationally complex waste-remediation program effectively. In this report, a number of steps that should be taken to strengthen the DOE-EM program are discussed.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
--> Executive Summary The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) established its office of Environmental Management (EM) in 1989 to oversee the cleanup of hazardous materials at DOE facilities throughout the United States. Due to the public health risks associated with some of those hazardous materials and the high costs of remediation, technologies developed and used for environmental management must be cost effective and achievable with acceptable risks. To help ensure that these critical objectives are achieved, DOE's Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, Thomas Grumbly, asked the National Research Council (NRC) to review and evaluate the DOE's Environmental Management (DOE-EM) technology-development program. In response to this request, the NRC's Committee on Environmental Management Technologies (CEMT) was established in 1994 to provide DOE-EM with continuing independent review and recommendations on technology development and use. In addition to the main committee, CEMT formed five subcommittees to address the unique issues relevant to developing technologies for environmental remediation. These five areas, which parallel DOE's focus areas, are defined in the Introduction of this report. Based on DOE presentations, discussions with DOE staff, and review of DOE documents concerning technology development within EM, the committee has concluded that the DOE-EM's overall program approach based on the focus areas and cross-cutting technologies is a promising one. During the past year, however, DOE-EM has made only limited progress in implementing the recommendations of the committee's first-year report (NRC, 1995). A great deal more needs to be done before the DOE-EM has a vital, focused, and coordinated technology-development program sufficient to support the technically and organizationally complex waste-remediation program effectively. In this report, a number of steps that should be taken to strengthen the DOE-EM program are discussed.

OCR for page 1
--> Conclusions and recommendations for each of DOE's five focus areas, as well as some cross-cutting areas, are presented in Chapter 3, whereas, the working papers in Appendix A include more detailed discussions. Based on these specific conclusions and recommendations, five significant points are highlighted that should be helpful to DOE, particularly, in its efforts to further technology-development activities in environmental management. Specific actions that DOE needs to take are to develop and implement quantitative criteria by which technology-development efforts can be prioritized and success can be measured; carefully consider the waste streams (including those from remediation efforts to their eventual disposition) in determining adequate technology-development needs; systematically assess and document previous and current efforts to develop and apply technologies using the quantitative criteria mentioned above; apply effective, external peer review in the selection, evaluation, and prioritization of its projects; and improve its system for information gathering and documentation on technologies that are available and under development by other relevant organizations in the United States and abroad. These points and other recommendations are more fully discussed in Chapter 2. The EM technology-development program has a major role in determining whether the entire DOE waste-remediation program is carried out well with regard to needs, risk reduction, cost, schedule, effectiveness, and satisfaction. As an indication of its importance, the program, now five years old, has enjoyed stable funding levels, while the budgets of other DOE programs have been reduced. The committee notes a number of items indicative of improvements in the technology-development activities of EM, and recognizes the major effort involved in implementing a program of this scope and magnitude. After observations during 1995, however, CEMT believes that major improvements are needed in the fundamental management processes if the EM research and technology-development program is to meet its responsibilities to the DOE and the public. The recommendations of this report are offered as constructive suggestions to a program that has many competing internal agendas and outside influences.