Project Description

CRESP’s focus at Hanford is to conduct an independent, Site-wide evaluation of risks and impacts to human health and resources

Memorandum from DOE Deputy Under Secretary Klaus to CRESP

In January 2014, the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP) was requested by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Under Secretary Klaus to conduct a site-wide evaluation of human health, nuclear safety, environmental and cultural resource risks associated with existing hazards, environmental contamination and remaining cleanup activities. The goal of the Risk Review Project is to carry out a screening process for risks and impacts to human health and resources. Under this Risk Review Project, the human health and resources that are evaluated include groundwater and the Columbia River, facility workers, co-located people, the public, and ecological and cultural resources. The results of the Risk Review Project are intended to provide the DOE, regulators, tribal nations, and the public with a more comprehensive understanding of the remaining cleanup at the Hanford Site to help inform (1) decisions on sequencing of future cleanup activities, and (2) selection, planning and execution of specific cleanup actions, including which areas at the Hanford Site should be addressed earlier for additional characterization, analysis, and remediation.

In order to help ensure potential risks and impacts are consistently evaluated, CRESP is using a scientifically sound methodology to conduct the Risk Review Project. A draft of the methodology was tested using pilot cases and made available to the public and independent experts for comment (September 4 2014, Revision A). The DOE, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and State of Washington Departments of Ecology and Health also provided input. More than 300 comments were received, reviewed and carefully considered. The draft was revised based on comments and input received, lessons learned from the pilot case studies conducted to test the draft methodology, and other information reviewed. The final methodology (August 31 2015 Revision 0) was submitted to the DOE, EPA, and State of Washington on August 31, 2015 and is considered a public document.

CRESP’s focus at Hanford is to conduct a comprehensive review of existing information for facilities and sites remaining to be cleaned up as October 1, 2015 for the purpose of developing a summary level catalog and classification of risks and impacts to human health and resources. The risks and impacts of specific contaminated areas and activities are categorized from very high to not discernible according to the magnitude of potential harm that identified contaminants from hazards, wastes, facilities and existing environmental contamination and future cleanup work may have on human health (i.e. the public, facility workers, and co-located people) and the environment, including groundwater and ecological resources. Future cleanup work includes: tank waste treatment and tank closure; soils; vadose zone and groundwater remediation; facility decommissioning; on-site near-surface disposal of contaminants; and on-site risks from transuranic and high level radioactive waste projected for off-site disposal. Cultural resources are described but not rated.

As noted, the Risk Review Project is concerned with risk evaluation and not with risk management decisions. The Project is neither intended to substitute for, nor preempt any requirement imposed under applicable federal environmental laws. And, as important, the Risk Review Project is not intended to make or replace any decision made under the Hanford Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order (Tri-Party Agreement) and/or 2010 Consent Order. Finally, the Risk Review Project is not intended to interpret a treaty entered into between the United States and a Native American Tribe.

A Core Team, consisting of representatives from the DOE-Environmental Management (EM), Office of River Protection (ORP), and Richland (RL), State of Washington Departments of Ecology and Health, and EPA, provides advice to CRESP on the development and execution of the Risk Review Project. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) provides research and other assistance in a supporting role to CRESP.

CRESP is a multi-disciplinary consortium of universities that advances environmental cleanup by finding ways to improve the scientific and technical basis for management decisions, and also to foster public participation in the effort. For more than 20 years, CRESP has conducted various studies, reviews, and assessments at DOE-EM sites around the country. Specifically, CRESP has completed risk informed characterization projects involving complex issues at both large and small DOE-EM sites. CRESP receives funding under a cooperative agreement between DOE-EM and Vanderbilt University as the lead organization for the multi-university consortium.

The entire Risk Review Project is anticipated to be completed during the last quarter of 2016, with the submission of a final report to DOE, EPA, and the State of Washington. An interim progress report was submitted in August 2015 and at the same time, made available for public comment. All written input received on this interim report during the 60-day public comment period is expected to inform the final report. The interim progress report and final report are considered public documents.

To ensure that information known to and views of all interested parties, including the public and tribal nations, are fully understood and taken into account, tribal nations, the public, interested community members, stakeholders, and governmental entities are encouraged to provide input at any time during the execution of the Risk Review Project. Additionally, written comments have been or will be solicited on three key documents prepared under the Risk Review Project. They are: draft methodology (comment period: Sept. 4 to Oct. 3, 2014); interim progress report (comment period (Sept.1 to Oct. 30, 2015), and draft final report. All written comments received are acknowledged, reviewed, and considered.

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