IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – EM Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tracy Mustin joined other officials last week to mark the 20th year of the independent, volunteer advisory board that offers the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Environmental Management guidance on critical issues involved in the world’s largest nuclear cleanup.
Mustin thanked the 14 current members of the Environmental Management Advisory Board (EMAB) and emphasized the value of their contributions and input from their independent, external perspectives. She called the board’s two decades of service an impressive milestone.
"This body has sustained and been effective for 20 years," Mustin told the board members, who have backgrounds in government and non-government entities, private industry and scientific and academic communities. “Your perspectives help us as we sort through the challenges of our program."
EMAB provides reports and recommendations to help DOE succeed with environmental compliance laws and principles and offers improvements to planning, policy development and budgeting to enhance management of DOE’s environmental challenges.
EMAB’s previous areas of focus included management and oversight, cost-benefit analyses, program performance, contracts and acquisition strategies, human capital development and site end-states activities.
Swindle discussed the board’s many accomplishments. EMAB evaluated the effectiveness of the Tri-Party Agreement, a comprehensive cleanup and compliance pact for the Hanford site that the DOE signed in 1989. Board members evaluated waste issues at the now completed Rocky Flats site. They also considered health and safety issues for subcontractors and technology development needs to accelerate restoration at Oak Ridge.
In 1992, three years after EM was created, DOE established the former Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Advisory Committee. That committee, which would eventually become EMAB, helped the Department meet its environmental cleanup and public participation goals of ensuring that risks to human health and the environment from the cleanup of contamination were at safe levels.
The Advisory Board advised EM on a Departmental programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) to meet regulatory requirements for cleanup. The committee eased communication between DOE and interested parties such as industry, labor and the scientific community. Later, during the DOE Asset Revitalization Initiative, EMAB provided vital counsel to help EM management capitalize on opportunities throughout the EM complex.
By 1996 — two years after the committee was restructured and named EMAB — DOE adopted almost all of the group’s recommendations on the PEIS, an accomplishment Swindle cited. One of the recommendations called for DOE to incorporate future land use policies into the implementation plan for the PEIS.
In 2010, EMAB’s Tank Waste Subcommittee launched a broad review of EM’s tank waste cleanup activities at the Hanford, Savannah River and Idaho sites. Mustin noted that the board issued 45 recommendations in fiscal year 2011, and the majority of those were generated by the Tank Waste Subcommittee. Other recent work includes a review of EM’s placement on the U.S. Government Accountability Office's High-Risk List and an evaluation of EM’s contracting options. Both of these reviews were conducted by the EMAB Acquisition & Project Management Subcommittee.