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Overview:

Located in the Department of Energy, the Office of Legacy Management (LM) oversees former nuclear weapons complex sites that have undergone cleanup of radioactive and other hazardous wastes. The LM currently manages 87 sites located throughout the country, performing a variety of functions from soil monitoring to benefits distribution for former contract workers.

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History:

During the second half of the 20th century, the U.S. spent approximately $300 billion on nuclear weapons research, production, and testing to amass an arsenal of 32,000 warheads in preparation for nuclear warfare with the former Soviet Union. At its peak the nuclear weapons complex—managed by the Atomic Energy Commission and later its successor, the Department of Energy (DOE)—consisted of 16 major facilities and dozens of smaller ones, including vast reservations of land in the states of Nevada, Tennessee, Idaho, Washington, and South Carolina. It ranged from tracts of isolated desert in Nevada, where weapons were tested, to warehouses in downtown New York that once stored uranium. Its national laboratories in New Mexico and California designed weapons with production of various components in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington.

 

The nuclear weapons complex generated vast amounts of waste, pollution, and contamination. By one account, the U.S. was left with 91 million gallons of high-level waste left over from plutonium processing, scores of tons of plutonium, more than half a million tons of depleted uranium, millions of cubic feet of contaminated tools, metal scraps, clothing, oils, solvents, and other waste, plus some 265 million tons of tailings from milling uranium ore. Some of the most serious contamination existed at three locations where uranium was enriched: East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP); the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky; and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in south-central Ohio.

 

As the Cold War came to an end, DOE officials began downsizing the nuclear weapons complex. It closed facilities such as ETTP, the Fernald uranium processing plant and Rocky Flats manufacturing plant, where decades of assembling nuclear warhead produced one of the most polluted places in the United States. The price tag for clean up at all weapons complex sites was estimated at $155 billion. This included unique radiation hazards, unprecedented volumes of contaminated water and soil and a vast number of contaminated structures ranging from reactors to chemical plants for extracting nuclear materials to evaporation ponds.

 

The federal government began appropriating billions of dollars in the 1990s to clean up former nuclear weapons facilities. DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), charged with overseeing the work, has made progress over the past 15 years disposing radioactive waste, contaminated buildings and other materials from Fernald, Rocky Flats, and other sites. Cleanup at both Fernald and Rocky Flats was officially completed in 2007.

 

Even after all dangerous substances had been removed, DOE officials realized their work wasn’t entirely over. Monitoring of the sites needed to be conducted to ensure there was no unaccounted for radiation in the soil. There were other legacy issues as well, related to local communities impacted by the closing of weapons facilities including the provision of benefits and heath care for former contractor employees and the storage of records for these now disbanded facilities. In 2003, DOE turned the 9-year-old Office of Worker and Community Transition into the newly created Office of Legacy Management to handle these concerns.

History of Rocky Flats

US Map showing location of sites that LM oversees

 

 

 

 

 

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What it Does:

Located in the Department of Energy, the Office of Legacy Management (LM) picks up where DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) leaves off. Once the EM completes the cleanup at former nuclear weapons facilities, LM takes over the location to manage any remaining environmental and human issues. LM currently manages 87 sites located throughout the country. The office is responsible for managing issues consisting of site monitoring, property management, grants to assist local communities affected by facility closure, records storage and pensions, health care, and life insurance for former workers.

 

Office of Site Operations oversees safety policies that apply to sites that LM manages. The office also is in charge of long-term surveillance and maintenance systems. When sites are cleaned up, contaminated topsoil is sometimes stripped off and replaced with new earth. LM’s surveillance, which involves its Environmental Sciences Laboratory, tests soil samples to make sure any buried contaminated earth does not pose a risk to human health.

 

Office of Community Assistance helps affected communities by providing community transition grants. Through section 3161 of the Defense Authorization Act of 1993, DOE initiated a community transition program in 1993 to minimize the social and economic impacts of work force restructuring on communities surrounding DOE facilities. The program encourages communities to establish Community Reuse Organizations (CROs) in order to receive grants that help establish new jobs to replace those lost by the closure of a nuclear weapons complex site. Since the program’s inception, 15 communities have established CROs. Congress has authorized $260.5 million and DOE has provided $34.1 million in funding for community transition activities. Currently the LM lists only nine CROs in operation. With these funds, CROs have created a total of 50,934 jobs at a cost of $ 5,719 per job. Funding, however, for community activities has declined sharply in recent years and is not expected to continue.

 

Office of Property Management oversees stewardship of lands under LM’s authority. The office works to create reuse plans for restored sites, leasing them for either public or private use. To accomplish this, the LM implements DOE land-use-planning processes that take into account economic, ecological, social, and cultural factors surrounding each facility or parcel of land. 

 

Office of Legacy Benefits, Work Force Restructuring and Labor Management Relations implements the Legacy Management Post-Closure Benefits (PCB) Program that makes sure former contractor workers receive their pensions and medical benefits after closure of a site or facility. Managing pensions and health benefits are by far LM’s largest responsibility, absorbing almost three-quarters of its annual budget. When funding allows, this office also assists displaced workers through the Displaced Worker Medical Benefits Program and provides tuition reimbursement, relocation assistance, and outplacement assistance.

 

Office of Business Operations takes care of thousands of records formerly maintained at sites when they were in operation. This duty involves information collection, storage, and destruction.

 

Uranium Leasing Program: In addition to working on former nuclear weapons-related sites, LM manages DOE’s Uranium Leasing Program. Under this program, the LM leases 31 tracts of land (29 active, two inactive) located in southwestern Colorado to mining companies that dig for uranium ore. The 31 tracts contain only 2% of the nation’s known uranium reserves.

Fact Sheets

Brochure (pdf)

Jan-March 2013Program Update (pdf)

 

 

 

From the Web Site of the Office of Legacy Management

Budget

Congressional Testimony

Contact Information

Fact Sheets

Guidance, Reports and Documents

Leadership

Mission

News

News Archive

Newsletter: Program Update

Organization Chart

Planning, Budget and Acquisition

Professional Papers

Program Updates

Quarterly Report

Services

Site Management Guide (pdf)

SitesSpotlights Archive

Strategic Plan Highlights 2011-2020

 

 

 

 

 

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Where Does the Money Go:

The Office of Legacy Management (LM) has spent about $248.7 million on 517 contractor transactions during the past decade, according to USAspending.gov. The five top products or services purchased during that period were management support ($77,384,959), ADP facility management ($66,681,394), other management support services ($55,381,356), training aids ($6,698,098), and engineering and technical services ($4,376,762).

 

The top five recipients of this contractor spending by LM were:

 

1. The Plateau Group LLC                                         $128,270,529 

2. Unisys Corporation                                                   $38,551,907 

3. Computer Sciences Corporation                               $30,185,589 

4. Lockheed Martin Corporation                                    $6,698,098 

5. Systems Technology Forum LTD                               $5,443,850

 

Because the LM assumes control of sites after cleanup is completed, the office does not engage with large private contractors like the Office of Environmental Management does. Instead, the LM works more with state environmental agencies and local public interest and environmental organizations.

 

For instance, a handful of the 87 sites managed by the LM are those where underground nuclear tests were conducted in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Some of these sites are outside Nevada, where the vast majority of nuclear tests were conducted. These non-Nevada tests sites were found in Mississippi, New Mexico, Colorado, and Alaska.

 

The Amchitka site, located at the very end of the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, was the home of the largest underground nuclear explosion ever conducted by the U.S. (approximately five megatons). The LM deals with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in managing the Amchitka site. For the Salmon site in Mississippi, the LM works with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Department of Health. The two New Mexico sites, Gasbuggy and Gnome-Coach, are overseen by the New Mexico Environment Department. The regulatory oversight process for Colorado’s Rulison and Rio Blanco sites involves collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

 

In the case of Rocky Flats stakeholders, the LM deals with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the US Environmental Protection Agency (which at one time had Rocky Flats on its Superfund list), the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council as well of residents of Boulder County and numerous small towns in the region. Cleanup of the site was completed by Kaiser-Hill, which continues to perform some end-of-contract responsibilities.

 

For Fernald stakeholders, where the former uranium-processing site has been turned into a nature preserve, the LM works with the Fernald Citizens Advisory Board. Fluor, an international engineering and construction firm, was the contractor that tore down the plant and turned the area into 1,050 acres of grass and native plants.

 

The LM’s map of sites it manages includes links with information about local stakeholders involved in legacy operations.

 

 

 

 

 

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Controversies:

Leasing Land for Uranium and Mining Continues

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) decided in spring 2013 to resume leasing federal land for uranium exploration and mining, which environmentalists opposed.

 

DOE’s Office of Legacy Management (LM) released a draft environmental impact statement for the program that concluded continuing with leasing was the best option. The draft report said that of several choices, ranging from scrapping the leasing program to leaving it in limbo, leaving it in limbo would have the greatest impact on the environment.

 

“It is assumed that there would be a total of 19 mines operating at various production rates at the same time,” during what might be considered a peak year of operations, the draft stated. The DOE has 29 leased tracts of land in three Colorado counties alone.

 

Not waiting for the DOE report, Energy Fuels Resources, with mining operations in Colorado, tried to restart work at a uranium mine about six miles from the Grand Canyon by going through the U.S. Forest Service. That prompted the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust, and the Havasupai Tribe to file lawsuits against the Forest Service to stop the company from resuming uranium-mining operations at Arizona’s Canyon Mine.

 

In 2012, the Department of the Interior had imposed a 20-year ban on uranium mining on federal lands. But Energy Fuel Resources claimed its operation had been grandfathered in and should be allowed to continue with its restart.

 

The company lost that legal battle when a federal judge rejected its argument that the ban should be overturned, ruling that Interior had the authority to protect the Grand Canyon’s watershed.

DOE proposes restart of controversial lease program (Manuel Quinones, E&E Publishing)

Environmentalist groups band together to stop uranium mining at Grand Canyon (by David Knowles, New York Daily News)

Judge Rejects Uranium Mining Industry Attempt to Repeal Ban on Grand Canyon Mining (Earth Justice)

Op-Ed: Gamma Rays and the Grand Canyon (by Kenneth Brower, National Geographic)

 

LM’s Methods of Handling Yucca Materials Called into Question

The Obama administration decided in 2010 to pull the plug on the controversial Yucca Mountain project in Nevada, where the government had planned for years, decades even, to store much of the nation’s nuclear waste.

 

With Yucca Mountain shuttered, the DOE also closed its Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which maintained the project’s documents and even posted them on its Web site.

 

The mounds of paperwork were transferred to the LM. But it has not bothered to make this information available to the public via the Web. Instead, anyone seeking records from Yucca Mountain must file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which can take months and sometimes result in nothing being released. Between 2010 and 2012, the LM answered only 210 FOIA requests.

 

Still, LM claims to be operating a “state of the art electronic record keeping system” at its facility in West Virginia. The agency requested a $3 million increase in its 2012 budget just to manage the Yucca Mountain records and information systems.

 

But there is no indication whether Yucca Mountain’s paperwork will ever be accessible through LM’s Web site.

Vlog: If DOE Can’t Run a Website, Why Should We Trust It To Run a Bank? (by William Yeatman, Global Warming.org)

Shutdown scatters workers, sparks Nev. debate over 'clean energy' jobs (by Emily Yehle and Hannah Northey, E&E Publishing)

Yucca Mountain Transition Progress – Congressional Interest (Office of Legacy Management)

 

Udall Amendment Calls for Legacy Mine Report

When the U.S. Senate adopted the 2012 Defense Authorization Act, it included an amendment by Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) requiring the DOE to prepare a report on “legacy” uranium mines—those that provided ore for nuclear weapons—and their possible impacts on the environment and health.

 

The legislation required the LM to describe and analyze locations of legacy mines on federal, state, tribal, and private land; detail when mines may pose “a potential and significant radiation health hazard to the public” or other threat; and when “they may have caused or may cause degradation of water quality … or environmental degradation.”

 

The report would also prioritize and provide cost estimates for cleanup and reclamation of legacy mines.

 

“This study will give us the bigger picture of legacy mines that places like New Mexico have lacked for so long. Through the Office of Legacy Management at DOE, it will help identify what could be thousands of legacy uranium mines that are out there so that we can begin prioritizing their cleanup and determining the associated costs. It would be a big step forward in the effort to keep families near the sites safe and mitigate the problems these contaminated areas pose to communities,” Udall said in an email to the Cibola Beacon.

Cleanup Study of Legacy Uranium Mines Part of Defense Bill (by Richard Kamp, Cibola Beacon)

 

Battlement Mesa Fracking Controversy

Colorado residents complained to the LM in 2009 after natural gas companies sought permission to drill near the site of an old nuclear testing ground.

 

In 1969, the U.S. government detonated a nuclear weapon a few thousand feet underground near Battlement Mesa, in what was called Project Rulison. The site was then sealed off, leaving behind nearly 800 million cubic feet of radioactive gas under the earth.

 

Thirty-five years later, natural gas producers began drilling in the region, getting closer to the site of the 1969 blast. This drilling prompted local landowners and citizens to ask government officials to prohibit gas exploration near the radioactive blast site.

 

Some observers said the DOE and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission didn’t take the matter seriously, and were playing “Rulison Roulette” with the safety and health of the people of Battlement Mesa, the nearby town of Parachute, and the surrounding area.

The next squeeze of the trigger (by Duke Cox, ColoradoPols.com)

Garfield County commissioner still thinks DOE not doing its job (by John Colson, Post Independent)

 

Cleanup of Great Miami Aquifer

In southwestern Ohio, the federal government will be running underground pumps for years to come in an effort to clean up a Cold War toxic legacy.

 

From 1951 to 1989, the DOE operated the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center, a classified facility in the middle of farm country, which produced nearly 70% of all uranium used in U.S. nuclear weapons.

 

Once the Cold War ended and the U.S. shut down Fernald, the government spent $4.4 billion over 17 years to dismantle the plant, and remove thousands of tons of concrete, sludge, and waste, and remediate the toxic and radioactive contamination left behind by the work.

 

In 2008, the site reopened as a nature preserve. It features seven miles of hiking trails and a visitors center, and is highlighted by a Cold War Garden (plants interspersed with bricks that symbolize the 3,000 people who once worked there), a Weapons to Wetlands Trail (overlooking a mound where millions of cubic yards of radioactive waste is buried), and pockmarked by dosimeter poles that measure ionizing radiation levels.

 

Despite being open to visitors, the cleanup effort is not over. Below the sprawling locale sits the Great Miami Aquifer, part of which became contaminated by Fernald’s uranium production. To decontaminate the underground reservoir, the government set up pumps that will operate until at least 2026.

Once notorious uranium waste site in Fernald, Ohio, beckons tourists (by Ellen Creager, Detroit Free Press)

Fernald Feed Materials Production Center (Wikipedia)

Clean-up of toxic landfill enters final phases (by Steve Bennish, Dayton Daily News)

 

 

Uranium Leasing Program Faulted over Royalty Collections

In January 2008, DOE’s inspector general issued a report faulting the Office of Legacy Management for not collecting royalties on time from mining companies. The royalties were part of the Uranium Leasing Program that the office oversees for DOE.

 

In some instances, LM had not collected royalties for two years. The IG also found that the LM had not reviewed its methodology for calculating royalties since 1982, despite increasing demand for uranium.

 

The inspector general’s office recommended that LM conduct periodic reviews of royalties to make sure they reflect current market conditions, and that it take steps to collect royalties when they are due. LM officials agreed with the findings.

 

Overall, LM did not collect 17% of royalties on time in 2006 and 2007, representing $700,000 in payments. A story by Platts news service paraphrased LM’s then-director Michael Owen as saying that “during that time his staff was focused primarily on completing a programmatic environmental assessment necessary for a new round of leasing”—in other words it was too busy giving out new leases instead of collecting money on the ones it already was managing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Former Directors:

Michael Owen

 

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Founded: 2003
Annual Budget: $176.9 million (FY 2014 Request)
Employees: 81
Official Website: http://www.lm.doe.gov/
Office of Legacy Management
Geiser, David
Director

 

The director of the Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management (LM) brings with him to the job almost twenty years of experience in the department. LM oversees former nuclear weapons complex sites that have undergone cleanup of radioactive and other hazardous wastes. LM currently manages more than 100 sites located throughout the country, performing a variety of functions from soil monitoring to benefits distribution for former contract workers.
 
David W. Geiser graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and received his commission in the U.S. Navy in 1981. He served in the Navy for eight years as a nuclear-trained officer on the USS Daniel Webster and at the Naval Sea Systems Command.
 
After leaving the Navy, Mr. Geiser earned a Master’s of Engineering Administration degree from The George Washington University and joined Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a company which holds more government contracts than any other, including contracts with DOE, and reported revenues of more than $10 billion in 2010. During his three years with SAIC, he spent two years in Paris, France, evaluating European waste management practices.
 
Geiser left the private sector to join DOE’s Office of Environmental Management in 1991 and has served in several capacities: international programs, high-level waste research and development, complex-wide planning and integration, providing assistance in the deployment of new technology, and developing policy and guidance for long-term environmental stewardship. He started work in the Office of Legacy Management as the director of the Office of Policy and Site Transition, on December 14, 2003, and became the deputy director of the Office of Legacy Management on May 8, 2005. After moving up to acting director in 2009, he took over as director in 2010.
 
Geiser is the varsity head coach of volleyball at The Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, Maryland.
 
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Owen, Michael
Previous Director
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham appointed Michael Owen director of the Office of Legacy Management upon its creation in 2003. From 1973 to 1985, Owen served as chief of staff to Congresswoman Marjorie Holt (R-MD). From 1985 to 1994, he served as assistant secretary of the US Army and principal deputy assistant secretary of installations, logistics and environment for the Army. In this latter capacity, Owen had oversight responsibility for numerous programs under the Army Corps of Engineers and was responsible for managing the Army’s base closure and resultant environmental cleanup efforts. He was also responsible for the Army’s conventional and chemical munitions demilitarization programs.
 
From 1994 to 1996, Owen served as vice president of Allied Research, where he was responsible for commercial and government markets in environmental remediation processes and services. He then served as president of Governmental Strategies, Inc., a lobbying firm specializing in environmental issues. Before taking charge of LM, Owen was the director of DOE’s Office of Worker and Community Transition.
 
 
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Overview:

Located in the Department of Energy, the Office of Legacy Management (LM) oversees former nuclear weapons complex sites that have undergone cleanup of radioactive and other hazardous wastes. The LM currently manages 87 sites located throughout the country, performing a variety of functions from soil monitoring to benefits distribution for former contract workers.

more
History:

During the second half of the 20th century, the U.S. spent approximately $300 billion on nuclear weapons research, production, and testing to amass an arsenal of 32,000 warheads in preparation for nuclear warfare with the former Soviet Union. At its peak the nuclear weapons complex—managed by the Atomic Energy Commission and later its successor, the Department of Energy (DOE)—consisted of 16 major facilities and dozens of smaller ones, including vast reservations of land in the states of Nevada, Tennessee, Idaho, Washington, and South Carolina. It ranged from tracts of isolated desert in Nevada, where weapons were tested, to warehouses in downtown New York that once stored uranium. Its national laboratories in New Mexico and California designed weapons with production of various components in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Washington.

 

The nuclear weapons complex generated vast amounts of waste, pollution, and contamination. By one account, the U.S. was left with 91 million gallons of high-level waste left over from plutonium processing, scores of tons of plutonium, more than half a million tons of depleted uranium, millions of cubic feet of contaminated tools, metal scraps, clothing, oils, solvents, and other waste, plus some 265 million tons of tailings from milling uranium ore. Some of the most serious contamination existed at three locations where uranium was enriched: East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP); the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky; and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in south-central Ohio.

 

As the Cold War came to an end, DOE officials began downsizing the nuclear weapons complex. It closed facilities such as ETTP, the Fernald uranium processing plant and Rocky Flats manufacturing plant, where decades of assembling nuclear warhead produced one of the most polluted places in the United States. The price tag for clean up at all weapons complex sites was estimated at $155 billion. This included unique radiation hazards, unprecedented volumes of contaminated water and soil and a vast number of contaminated structures ranging from reactors to chemical plants for extracting nuclear materials to evaporation ponds.

 

The federal government began appropriating billions of dollars in the 1990s to clean up former nuclear weapons facilities. DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), charged with overseeing the work, has made progress over the past 15 years disposing radioactive waste, contaminated buildings and other materials from Fernald, Rocky Flats, and other sites. Cleanup at both Fernald and Rocky Flats was officially completed in 2007.

 

Even after all dangerous substances had been removed, DOE officials realized their work wasn’t entirely over. Monitoring of the sites needed to be conducted to ensure there was no unaccounted for radiation in the soil. There were other legacy issues as well, related to local communities impacted by the closing of weapons facilities including the provision of benefits and heath care for former contractor employees and the storage of records for these now disbanded facilities. In 2003, DOE turned the 9-year-old Office of Worker and Community Transition into the newly created Office of Legacy Management to handle these concerns.

History of Rocky Flats

US Map showing location of sites that LM oversees

 

 

 

 

 

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What it Does:

Located in the Department of Energy, the Office of Legacy Management (LM) picks up where DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) leaves off. Once the EM completes the cleanup at former nuclear weapons facilities, LM takes over the location to manage any remaining environmental and human issues. LM currently manages 87 sites located throughout the country. The office is responsible for managing issues consisting of site monitoring, property management, grants to assist local communities affected by facility closure, records storage and pensions, health care, and life insurance for former workers.

 

Office of Site Operations oversees safety policies that apply to sites that LM manages. The office also is in charge of long-term surveillance and maintenance systems. When sites are cleaned up, contaminated topsoil is sometimes stripped off and replaced with new earth. LM’s surveillance, which involves its Environmental Sciences Laboratory, tests soil samples to make sure any buried contaminated earth does not pose a risk to human health.

 

Office of Community Assistance helps affected communities by providing community transition grants. Through section 3161 of the Defense Authorization Act of 1993, DOE initiated a community transition program in 1993 to minimize the social and economic impacts of work force restructuring on communities surrounding DOE facilities. The program encourages communities to establish Community Reuse Organizations (CROs) in order to receive grants that help establish new jobs to replace those lost by the closure of a nuclear weapons complex site. Since the program’s inception, 15 communities have established CROs. Congress has authorized $260.5 million and DOE has provided $34.1 million in funding for community transition activities. Currently the LM lists only nine CROs in operation. With these funds, CROs have created a total of 50,934 jobs at a cost of $ 5,719 per job. Funding, however, for community activities has declined sharply in recent years and is not expected to continue.

 

Office of Property Management oversees stewardship of lands under LM’s authority. The office works to create reuse plans for restored sites, leasing them for either public or private use. To accomplish this, the LM implements DOE land-use-planning processes that take into account economic, ecological, social, and cultural factors surrounding each facility or parcel of land. 

 

Office of Legacy Benefits, Work Force Restructuring and Labor Management Relations implements the Legacy Management Post-Closure Benefits (PCB) Program that makes sure former contractor workers receive their pensions and medical benefits after closure of a site or facility. Managing pensions and health benefits are by far LM’s largest responsibility, absorbing almost three-quarters of its annual budget. When funding allows, this office also assists displaced workers through the Displaced Worker Medical Benefits Program and provides tuition reimbursement, relocation assistance, and outplacement assistance.

 

Office of Business Operations takes care of thousands of records formerly maintained at sites when they were in operation. This duty involves information collection, storage, and destruction.

 

Uranium Leasing Program: In addition to working on former nuclear weapons-related sites, LM manages DOE’s Uranium Leasing Program. Under this program, the LM leases 31 tracts of land (29 active, two inactive) located in southwestern Colorado to mining companies that dig for uranium ore. The 31 tracts contain only 2% of the nation’s known uranium reserves.

Fact Sheets

Brochure (pdf)

Jan-March 2013Program Update (pdf)

 

 

 

From the Web Site of the Office of Legacy Management

Budget

Congressional Testimony

Contact Information

Fact Sheets

Guidance, Reports and Documents

Leadership

Mission

News

News Archive

Newsletter: Program Update

Organization Chart

Planning, Budget and Acquisition

Professional Papers

Program Updates

Quarterly Report

Services

Site Management Guide (pdf)

SitesSpotlights Archive

Strategic Plan Highlights 2011-2020

 

 

 

 

 

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The Office of Legacy Management (LM) has spent about $248.7 million on 517 contractor transactions during the past decade, according to USAspending.gov. The five top products or services purchased during that period were management support ($77,384,959), ADP facility management ($66,681,394), other management support services ($55,381,356), training aids ($6,698,098), and engineering and technical services ($4,376,762).

 

The top five recipients of this contractor spending by LM were:

 

1. The Plateau Group LLC                                         $128,270,529 

2. Unisys Corporation                                                   $38,551,907 

3. Computer Sciences Corporation                               $30,185,589 

4. Lockheed Martin Corporation                                    $6,698,098 

5. Systems Technology Forum LTD                               $5,443,850

 

Because the LM assumes control of sites after cleanup is completed, the office does not engage with large private contractors like the Office of Environmental Management does. Instead, the LM works more with state environmental agencies and local public interest and environmental organizations.

 

For instance, a handful of the 87 sites managed by the LM are those where underground nuclear tests were conducted in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Some of these sites are outside Nevada, where the vast majority of nuclear tests were conducted. These non-Nevada tests sites were found in Mississippi, New Mexico, Colorado, and Alaska.

 

The Amchitka site, located at the very end of the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska, was the home of the largest underground nuclear explosion ever conducted by the U.S. (approximately five megatons). The LM deals with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in managing the Amchitka site. For the Salmon site in Mississippi, the LM works with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Department of Health. The two New Mexico sites, Gasbuggy and Gnome-Coach, are overseen by the New Mexico Environment Department. The regulatory oversight process for Colorado’s Rulison and Rio Blanco sites involves collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

 

In the case of Rocky Flats stakeholders, the LM deals with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the US Environmental Protection Agency (which at one time had Rocky Flats on its Superfund list), the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council as well of residents of Boulder County and numerous small towns in the region. Cleanup of the site was completed by Kaiser-Hill, which continues to perform some end-of-contract responsibilities.

 

For Fernald stakeholders, where the former uranium-processing site has been turned into a nature preserve, the LM works with the Fernald Citizens Advisory Board. Fluor, an international engineering and construction firm, was the contractor that tore down the plant and turned the area into 1,050 acres of grass and native plants.

 

The LM’s map of sites it manages includes links with information about local stakeholders involved in legacy operations.

 

 

 

 

 

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Controversies:

Leasing Land for Uranium and Mining Continues

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) decided in spring 2013 to resume leasing federal land for uranium exploration and mining, which environmentalists opposed.

 

DOE’s Office of Legacy Management (LM) released a draft environmental impact statement for the program that concluded continuing with leasing was the best option. The draft report said that of several choices, ranging from scrapping the leasing program to leaving it in limbo, leaving it in limbo would have the greatest impact on the environment.

 

“It is assumed that there would be a total of 19 mines operating at various production rates at the same time,” during what might be considered a peak year of operations, the draft stated. The DOE has 29 leased tracts of land in three Colorado counties alone.

 

Not waiting for the DOE report, Energy Fuels Resources, with mining operations in Colorado, tried to restart work at a uranium mine about six miles from the Grand Canyon by going through the U.S. Forest Service. That prompted the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust, and the Havasupai Tribe to file lawsuits against the Forest Service to stop the company from resuming uranium-mining operations at Arizona’s Canyon Mine.

 

In 2012, the Department of the Interior had imposed a 20-year ban on uranium mining on federal lands. But Energy Fuel Resources claimed its operation had been grandfathered in and should be allowed to continue with its restart.

 

The company lost that legal battle when a federal judge rejected its argument that the ban should be overturned, ruling that Interior had the authority to protect the Grand Canyon’s watershed.

DOE proposes restart of controversial lease program (Manuel Quinones, E&E Publishing)

Environmentalist groups band together to stop uranium mining at Grand Canyon (by David Knowles, New York Daily News)

Judge Rejects Uranium Mining Industry Attempt to Repeal Ban on Grand Canyon Mining (Earth Justice)

Op-Ed: Gamma Rays and the Grand Canyon (by Kenneth Brower, National Geographic)

 

LM’s Methods of Handling Yucca Materials Called into Question

The Obama administration decided in 2010 to pull the plug on the controversial Yucca Mountain project in Nevada, where the government had planned for years, decades even, to store much of the nation’s nuclear waste.

 

With Yucca Mountain shuttered, the DOE also closed its Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which maintained the project’s documents and even posted them on its Web site.

 

The mounds of paperwork were transferred to the LM. But it has not bothered to make this information available to the public via the Web. Instead, anyone seeking records from Yucca Mountain must file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which can take months and sometimes result in nothing being released. Between 2010 and 2012, the LM answered only 210 FOIA requests.

 

Still, LM claims to be operating a “state of the art electronic record keeping system” at its facility in West Virginia. The agency requested a $3 million increase in its 2012 budget just to manage the Yucca Mountain records and information systems.

 

But there is no indication whether Yucca Mountain’s paperwork will ever be accessible through LM’s Web site.

Vlog: If DOE Can’t Run a Website, Why Should We Trust It To Run a Bank? (by William Yeatman, Global Warming.org)

Shutdown scatters workers, sparks Nev. debate over 'clean energy' jobs (by Emily Yehle and Hannah Northey, E&E Publishing)

Yucca Mountain Transition Progress – Congressional Interest (Office of Legacy Management)

 

Udall Amendment Calls for Legacy Mine Report

When the U.S. Senate adopted the 2012 Defense Authorization Act, it included an amendment by Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) requiring the DOE to prepare a report on “legacy” uranium mines—those that provided ore for nuclear weapons—and their possible impacts on the environment and health.

 

The legislation required the LM to describe and analyze locations of legacy mines on federal, state, tribal, and private land; detail when mines may pose “a potential and significant radiation health hazard to the public” or other threat; and when “they may have caused or may cause degradation of water quality … or environmental degradation.”

 

The report would also prioritize and provide cost estimates for cleanup and reclamation of legacy mines.

 

“This study will give us the bigger picture of legacy mines that places like New Mexico have lacked for so long. Through the Office of Legacy Management at DOE, it will help identify what could be thousands of legacy uranium mines that are out there so that we can begin prioritizing their cleanup and determining the associated costs. It would be a big step forward in the effort to keep families near the sites safe and mitigate the problems these contaminated areas pose to communities,” Udall said in an email to the Cibola Beacon.

Cleanup Study of Legacy Uranium Mines Part of Defense Bill (by Richard Kamp, Cibola Beacon)

 

Battlement Mesa Fracking Controversy

Colorado residents complained to the LM in 2009 after natural gas companies sought permission to drill near the site of an old nuclear testing ground.

 

In 1969, the U.S. government detonated a nuclear weapon a few thousand feet underground near Battlement Mesa, in what was called Project Rulison. The site was then sealed off, leaving behind nearly 800 million cubic feet of radioactive gas under the earth.

 

Thirty-five years later, natural gas producers began drilling in the region, getting closer to the site of the 1969 blast. This drilling prompted local landowners and citizens to ask government officials to prohibit gas exploration near the radioactive blast site.

 

Some observers said the DOE and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission didn’t take the matter seriously, and were playing “Rulison Roulette” with the safety and health of the people of Battlement Mesa, the nearby town of Parachute, and the surrounding area.

The next squeeze of the trigger (by Duke Cox, ColoradoPols.com)

Garfield County commissioner still thinks DOE not doing its job (by John Colson, Post Independent)

 

Cleanup of Great Miami Aquifer

In southwestern Ohio, the federal government will be running underground pumps for years to come in an effort to clean up a Cold War toxic legacy.

 

From 1951 to 1989, the DOE operated the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center, a classified facility in the middle of farm country, which produced nearly 70% of all uranium used in U.S. nuclear weapons.

 

Once the Cold War ended and the U.S. shut down Fernald, the government spent $4.4 billion over 17 years to dismantle the plant, and remove thousands of tons of concrete, sludge, and waste, and remediate the toxic and radioactive contamination left behind by the work.

 

In 2008, the site reopened as a nature preserve. It features seven miles of hiking trails and a visitors center, and is highlighted by a Cold War Garden (plants interspersed with bricks that symbolize the 3,000 people who once worked there), a Weapons to Wetlands Trail (overlooking a mound where millions of cubic yards of radioactive waste is buried), and pockmarked by dosimeter poles that measure ionizing radiation levels.

 

Despite being open to visitors, the cleanup effort is not over. Below the sprawling locale sits the Great Miami Aquifer, part of which became contaminated by Fernald’s uranium production. To decontaminate the underground reservoir, the government set up pumps that will operate until at least 2026.

Once notorious uranium waste site in Fernald, Ohio, beckons tourists (by Ellen Creager, Detroit Free Press)

Fernald Feed Materials Production Center (Wikipedia)

Clean-up of toxic landfill enters final phases (by Steve Bennish, Dayton Daily News)

 

 

Uranium Leasing Program Faulted over Royalty Collections

In January 2008, DOE’s inspector general issued a report faulting the Office of Legacy Management for not collecting royalties on time from mining companies. The royalties were part of the Uranium Leasing Program that the office oversees for DOE.

 

In some instances, LM had not collected royalties for two years. The IG also found that the LM had not reviewed its methodology for calculating royalties since 1982, despite increasing demand for uranium.

 

The inspector general’s office recommended that LM conduct periodic reviews of royalties to make sure they reflect current market conditions, and that it take steps to collect royalties when they are due. LM officials agreed with the findings.

 

Overall, LM did not collect 17% of royalties on time in 2006 and 2007, representing $700,000 in payments. A story by Platts news service paraphrased LM’s then-director Michael Owen as saying that “during that time his staff was focused primarily on completing a programmatic environmental assessment necessary for a new round of leasing”—in other words it was too busy giving out new leases instead of collecting money on the ones it already was managing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Former Directors:

Michael Owen

 

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Founded: 2003
Annual Budget: $176.9 million (FY 2014 Request)
Employees: 81
Official Website: http://www.lm.doe.gov/
Office of Legacy Management
Geiser, David
Director

 

The director of the Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management (LM) brings with him to the job almost twenty years of experience in the department. LM oversees former nuclear weapons complex sites that have undergone cleanup of radioactive and other hazardous wastes. LM currently manages more than 100 sites located throughout the country, performing a variety of functions from soil monitoring to benefits distribution for former contract workers.
 
David W. Geiser graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and received his commission in the U.S. Navy in 1981. He served in the Navy for eight years as a nuclear-trained officer on the USS Daniel Webster and at the Naval Sea Systems Command.
 
After leaving the Navy, Mr. Geiser earned a Master’s of Engineering Administration degree from The George Washington University and joined Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a company which holds more government contracts than any other, including contracts with DOE, and reported revenues of more than $10 billion in 2010. During his three years with SAIC, he spent two years in Paris, France, evaluating European waste management practices.
 
Geiser left the private sector to join DOE’s Office of Environmental Management in 1991 and has served in several capacities: international programs, high-level waste research and development, complex-wide planning and integration, providing assistance in the deployment of new technology, and developing policy and guidance for long-term environmental stewardship. He started work in the Office of Legacy Management as the director of the Office of Policy and Site Transition, on December 14, 2003, and became the deputy director of the Office of Legacy Management on May 8, 2005. After moving up to acting director in 2009, he took over as director in 2010.
 
Geiser is the varsity head coach of volleyball at The Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, Maryland.
 
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Owen, Michael
Previous Director
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham appointed Michael Owen director of the Office of Legacy Management upon its creation in 2003. From 1973 to 1985, Owen served as chief of staff to Congresswoman Marjorie Holt (R-MD). From 1985 to 1994, he served as assistant secretary of the US Army and principal deputy assistant secretary of installations, logistics and environment for the Army. In this latter capacity, Owen had oversight responsibility for numerous programs under the Army Corps of Engineers and was responsible for managing the Army’s base closure and resultant environmental cleanup efforts. He was also responsible for the Army’s conventional and chemical munitions demilitarization programs.
 
From 1994 to 1996, Owen served as vice president of Allied Research, where he was responsible for commercial and government markets in environmental remediation processes and services. He then served as president of Governmental Strategies, Inc., a lobbying firm specializing in environmental issues. Before taking charge of LM, Owen was the director of DOE’s Office of Worker and Community Transition.
 
 
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