An updated blueprint for planned nuclear-related cleanup efforts over the next decade has been released by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (EM) Environmental cleanup priorities for the 2022 to 2032 period focus on safety, innovation and improved performance at nuclear legacy sites.

Priorities include:

  • Initiating radioactive tank waste treatment at the Hanford Site in Washington state and completing other significant risk-reduction activities at the site.
  • Emptying and closing 22 of 51 underground waste tanks at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
  • Completing the new safety-significant confinement ventilation system, a new utility shaft, and other key infrastructure upgrades at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.
  • Completing the treatment of liquid sodium-bearing waste at the U.S. Idaho National Laboratory site.
  • Demolishing two of three former uranium enrichment process buildings at the Portsmouth site in Ohio.
  • Finalizing and implementing long-term approaches for treating contaminated groundwater at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
  • Initiating soil remediation and final groundwater treatment approaches at the Energy Technology Engineering Center site in Ventura County, California.
  • Completing legacy cleanup activities at the Moab uranium mill site in Utah, the Nevada National Security Site, U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and U.S. Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

The roadmap reflects one less cleanup site compared with previous priority lists, as remediation at U.S. Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York has been declared complete following the recent demolition of the 320-ft tall exhaust stack of the former High Flux Beam Reactor. The small research reactor provided a source of neutrons for materials science research and was permanently shut down in 1999 after more than 30 years in service.

EM has now completed remediation work at 92 sites since the office's inception in 1989.

To contact the author of this article, email