Nov. 20, 2009
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DOE's Office of EM celebrates two decades

October marked the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management (EM), whose mission is to complete the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy left by five decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.

EM is responsible for environmental restoration, waste management, technology development and facility transition and management. The office was created in 1989 to centralize responsibility within DOE for environmental management activities, with goals to comply with all applicable laws and regulations, incorporate public input, protect human health and safety and emphasize environmental responsibility within DOE.

Environmental Management activities at LLNL

At LLNL, EM funded the investigation and cleanup of soil and groundwater contamination discovered at the Livermore Site and at Site 300 in the early 1980s. From 1989 through 2006, the Laboratory accomplished significant progress in meeting regulatory agency requirements for site cleanup.

Since beginning remediation at the Livermore Site, about 3.6 billion gallons of groundwater and more than 340 million cubic feet of soil vapor have been treated, removing more than 6,800 pounds of volatile organic compounds from the subsurface. To achieve this, the Lab:

  • Built 29 groundwater treatment facilities and nine soil vapor treatment facilities.

  • Maintains a network of 95 groundwater extraction wells, one groundwater injection well, 27 dual extraction wells, 31 soil vapor extraction wells and one soil vapor injection well.

Though all of Livermore Site and most of Site 300's cleanup activities have been transferred from EM to the National Nuclear Security Administration, a few EM activities remain at Site 300, including the Bldg. 850 soil solidification project now nearing completion and remedial work at Bldg. 812 that is planned in the next few years. The Site 300 environmental restoration resulted in the treatment of 365 million gallons of groundwater, removing more than 15,000 pounds of contaminants from the subsurface. Site 300 activities included:

  • Constructing 21 groundwater and soil vapor treatment facilities.

  • Capping and closing four landfills and a high explosives burn pit.

  • Constructing source control remedial measures at the Pit 7 Landfill Complex.

  • Removing contaminated soil from source areas.

EM supported the consolidation of waste management operations in the Lab's new Decontamination and Waste Treatment Facility, as well as the disposal of legacy waste from the Lab.

Finally, EM also sponsored technology development in environmental restoration, waste treatment and disposition, and pollution prevention. These include Dynamic Underground Stripping, which was deployed at other sites, including Southern California Edison's Visalia Pole Yard , where it was instrumental in cleaning the site so well that it has been taken off the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list.