National Environmental Training Office

Principles for Streamlining Environmental Restoration

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Courtesy of National Environmental Training Office

For example, published reports on the use of the “Principles” at DOE sites show savings of millions of dollars and avoidance of months or years of effort at sites in Nevada, Ohio, Kentucky, and South Carolina. At a site in South Carolina, ongoing challenges with implementing a cleanup program led to the regulators calling a “time out” in enforcing compliance agreement milestones and a rethinking of how all parties could approach planning and implementing environmental cleanup. A series of “Principles” courses and technical planning sessions resulted in all parties adopting the process.

More Information on the Principles Process

DOE publications on application of the “Principles” process include:

1. Preparing Effective Decision Documents: Facilitating the Transition into Response Design and Implementation (DOE/EH-413-0012)
2. Facility Disposition: Principles for Accelerated Project Management (DOE/EH-413-0002)
3. Environmental Response Design and Implementation Guidance (DOE/EH-413-9915)
4. A Monograph: Facility Disposition Lessons Learned from the Mound Site (DOE/EH-413-9909)
5. Expediting Cleanup through Early Identification of Likely Response Actions (DOE/EH-413-9902)
6. Expediting Cleanup through Problem Identification and Definition (DOE/EH-413-9904)
7. Uncertainty Management: Expediting Cleanup Through Contingency Planning (DOE/EH/(CERCLA)-002
8. Streamlined Approach for Environmental Restoration (SAFER) Pilot Project, Final Report
All of these reports are available on the web at, then click on “Policy & Guidance,” then select CERCLA

In addition to the savings associated with more efficient document review/revision processes, the new approach results in additional savings because objectives (i.e., scope) are clearly understood early in the project life cycle, which ensures an appropriate level of effort is defined for technical analyses (e.g., risk assessments). Further, the new approach identifies opportunities to select a preferred response early in the process based on institutional knowledge. Consequently, there is opportunity to not only focus on project scope, but also to accelerate cleanup by minimizing the need for unnecessary technical analysis.

At U.S. Army sites, successes of the “Principles” include an Army Depot in New York where the project manager anticipates “a reduction in schedule of 24 months and savings, of as much as $1 million” because the process led the project team to forgo detailed site characterization and move immediately to an active cleanup measure once they realized that the additional characterization would provide little new information that the decision makers needed.

At another Army site in California, early identification of likely response actions for cleaning up a series of underground storage tanks and a small localized plume resulted in schedule savings of nearly a year and cost savings of $100,000. This was accomplished by avoiding a long feasibility study to evaluate engineering alternatives because existing data already suggested a remediation approach that was feasible and effective.

The inter-agency collaboration on the development of this new approach to Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study decision-making has resulted in an approach that has been readily implemented, and immediately beneficial. Staff from all organizations and at all levels have a renewed focus on the fundamentals of environmental restoration – identifying threats to human health and the environment and responding to them as expeditiously as possible. As a result of these successes similar efforts are being encouraged at other federal facilities.

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