April 20, 2001

Lab Wins EPA's Greening the Government Award

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a "champion of green government."

Recycling materials from lab projects has earned the Lab the EPA’s Greening the Government Award — recognition and appreciation of individuals and groups that go "above and beyond the call of duty in working to improve the environment."

At the heart of the effort is the Lab’s Space Action Team, created in 1995 in the Chemistry and Materials Science Directorate to improve efficiency and reduce costs by helping to consolidate facilities and programs across the Lab.

"There were several facilities that were identified as no longer cost-effective to maintain due to their age, changing missions, or obsolescence," said Mo Bissani, deputy Space Action Team (SAT) team leader.

The award citation from EPA reads: "The Space Action Team at LLNL has recycled approximately 90 percent of materials from decontaminated and demolition projects at the Lab. Soil asphalt, concrete, wood, steel and electro-mechanical infrastructure and equipment have been recycled during the demolition of 11 buildings and 22 trailers. Soil, asphalt and concrete are now being used at landfill sites for construction, road improvements and daily operational needs. LLNL has reduced landfill costs for those materials to zero. Pollution prevention is a guiding principle in all decontamination and demolition projects."

The Space Action Team (SAT), headed by Program Leader Mitch Waterman, plans and executes facilities projects. The 32-member team’s capabilities and expertise include hazardous waste management, Environment Safety and Health (ES&H) technicians and crafts teamed with other ES&H professionals.

"I was honored to receive this award on behalf of SAT and each and every member of the team. This could not have been achieved without their effort," said Waterman. "SAT has always believed that economic decontamination and demolition is real and that pollution prevention is clearly a cost saving process. Safety has also been a top priority. In our six years of operation, we have not had a lost work-day or injury."

"The SAT’s primary purpose is to work in partnership with its customers," says Bissani. "We’ve become very efficient in what we’ve been able to recycle out of these decommissioning and demolition projects."

As buildings age beyond their "extended life cycle," the Laboratory is dealing with the disposition of surplus facilities. This effort is hampered by a lack of historical data such as plan drawings, building modification and other report documents.

"This is a very elaborate process requiring a lot of testing, sampling and characterization," says Bissani, noting that it is the SAT’s task to manage the "end of life cycle" disposition process which consists of the five D’s "deactivation, decontamination, decommissioning, disposition and demolition."

Kent Wilson, LLNL Pollution Prevention coordinator, said the approach the SAT has developed demonstrates that "pollution prevention not only improves the environment and protects natural resources, but it also makes good business sense in decontamination and demolition."