Environmental cleanup of the nation's former nuclear weapons sites: Unprecedented public-private challenges at the largest facilities

Henry Mayer, Josephine Faass, Michael R. Greenberg, David Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In 1994, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiated a contract reform program intended to strengthen oversight capabilities and encourage the creation of contract and incentive structures, which would effectively facilitate the treatment of onsite contamination and waste. The remedia-tion and disposal of these legacy wastes is the core of the Department's environmental manage-ment mission (Government Accountability Office [GAO], 2003). Despite a concerted effort toward achieving the goals of the reform, progress has been slow. Many projects continue to necessitate cost and time extensions above those originally agreed upon. Although the Department insti-tuted an accelerated cleanup program in 2002, promising to shave some $50 billion and 35 years from its earlier cost and schedule projections, there have been delays in critical project areas that call into question the attainability of the proposed reductions (GAO, 2005). Numerous explana-tions have been offered as to why achieving these goals has proven so difficult, many of which have concluded that flawed contracting practices are to blame. This article concludes that the root of the problem is much deeper and that the organizational criticisms aimed at DOE are as much a legacy as the waste itself. Although the focus of this article is on large former nuclear weapons sites, these types of contracting and organizational issues are often found at other gov-ernment and private complex hazardous waste sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-55
Number of pages19
JournalRemediation
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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