ISO deems Savannah River’s environmental program ‘robust’

June 30, 2021, 7:18AMRadwaste Solutions
From left, SRNS mechanic Todd Cockrell, engineer John Bradley, and project manager Joao Cardoso-Neto plan the removal of a vapor extraction unit at the Savannah River Site. (Photo: DOE)

Department of Energy site contractors Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and Savannah River Remediation received high marks from a recent independent audit of their environmental management work at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

As announced by the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) on June 29, the audit team, led by third-party independent evaluators from DOE headquarters and the International Organization for Standardization, conducted an extensive evaluation of the two contractors’ environmental programs, including environmental regulatory compliance, direct environmental operations, and environmental protection and remediation projects and activities.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is the site’s management and operations contractor and Savannah River Remediation is EM’s liquid waste contractor at SRS.

Conclusions: According to EM, the final audit report concluded that the environmental management system put in place by SRNS and SRR conforms to standards set by the ISO, as well as environmental protection requirements set forth by the DOE and other regulatory agencies. The report describes the contractor programs as “robust” and states that all focus areas “appear to be professionally managed, well-coordinated, and operationally effective.”

In addition to achieving conformance with ISO standards, the successful completion of the audit ensures that the environmental management system meets DOE expectations outlined in a department order that requires contractors to develop and implement an environmental management system that is certified to, or conforms with, the ISO standard.

The audit is performed every three years for the site's M&O and liquid waste contractors. It is conducted both on-site and in remote locations and consists of inspections, personnel interviews, and facility visits.

They said it: “Despite our ability to sustain a ‘robust’ environmental management system, the desired outcome of any third-party evaluation is to identify opportunities to continuously improve,” said Rick Sprague, SRNS senior vice president. “SRNS is a learning organization that appreciates the feedback provided by independent experts. The auditors provided four opportunities for improvement, and we look forward to implementing their suggestions to further strengthen our environmental management systems posture.”

SRR director Patricia Allen said, “Cleaning and closing waste tanks are mammoth-sized jobs that SRR understands and executes well. This independent audit highlights how seriously we take our work, particularly how well we protect workers, the community, and the environment. And that’s the way it should be. We live here, too.”

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