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Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites (2000)

Chapter:Appendix I Definitions of Terms Used in this Report

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix I Definitions of Terms Used in this Report." National Research Council. 2000. Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9949.
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APPENDIX I

Definitions of Terms Used in This Report

The committee uses certain terms throughout this report. Their definitions are assembled here to assist the reader.

Long-Term Institutional Management—A comprehensive approach to planning and decision-making for management of contaminated sites, facilities, and materials.

Contaminant Reduction—Activities that decrease the volume or toxicity of contaminants at a particular location. These include destruction, decontamination, treatment and processing, natural and radioactive decay, and removal.

Contaminant Isolation—Use of natural or engineered barriers and stabilization techniques to prevent or limit the migration of contaminants and to prevent human intrusion.

Contaminant Remediation—Contaminant reduction and contaminant isolation.

Stewardship—Activities that will be required to manage potentially harmful residual contamination left on site after cessation of remediation efforts, including:

  • maintaining contaminant isolation and measures to monitor the migration and attenuation or evolution of residual contaminants;

  • institutional controls (see definition below);

  • conducting oversight and, if necessary, enforcement;

  • gathering, storing, and retrieving information about residual contaminants and conditions on site, as well as about changing off-site conditions that may affect or be affected by residual contaminants;

  • disseminating information about the site and related use restrictions;

  • periodically reevaluating how well the total protective system is working;

  • evaluating of new technological options to reduce or eliminate residual contaminants or to monitor and prevent migration of isolated contaminants; and

  • supporting research and development aimed at improving basic understanding of both the physical and sociopolitical character of site environments and the fate, transport, and effects of residual site contaminants.

Institutional Controls—Restrictions on land access or use through such devices as easements, deed notification, zoning, permits, fences, signs, government ownership, and leases; also, legal measures to ensure continued access to privatized sites for the purpose of monitoring and, if necessary, further remediation.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix I Definitions of Terms Used in this Report." National Research Council. 2000. Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9949.
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Contextual Factors—Factors that can affect the nature and extent of the measures taken under long-term institu-tional management; seven factors in particular often constrain the range of decisions and actions realistically available:

  • risk;

  • scientific and technical capability;

  • institutional capability;

  • cost;

  • laws and regulations;

  • values of interested and affected parties; and

  • other sites.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix I Definitions of Terms Used in this Report." National Research Council. 2000. Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9949.
×
Page163
Suggested Citation:"Appendix I Definitions of Terms Used in this Report." National Research Council. 2000. Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9949.
×
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It is now becoming clear that relatively few U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) waste sites will be cleaned up to the point where they can be released for unrestricted use. "Long-term stewardship" (activities to protect human health and the environment from hazards that may remain at its sites after cessation of remediation) will be required for over 100 of the 144 waste sites under DOE control (U.S. Department of Energy, 1999). After stabilizing wastes that remain on site and containing them as well as is feasible, DOE intends to rely on stewardship for as long as hazards persist—in many cases, indefinitely. Physical containment barriers, the management systems upon which their long-term reliability depends, and institutional controls intended to prevent exposure of people and the environment to the remaining site hazards, will have to be maintained at some DOE sites for an indefinite period of time.

The Committee on Remediation of Buried and Tank Wastes finds that much regarding DOE's intended reliance on long-term stewardship is at this point problematic. The details of long-term stewardship planning are yet to be specified, the adequacy of funding is not assured, and there is no convincing evidence that institutional controls and other stewardship measures are reliable over the long term. Scientific understanding of the factors that govern the long-term behavior of residual contaminants in the environment is not adequate. Yet, the likelihood that institutional management measures will fail at some point is relatively high, underscoring the need to assure that decisions made in the near term are based on the best available science. Improving institutional capabilities can be expected to be every bit as difficult as improving scientific and technical ones, but without improved understanding of why and how institutions succeed and fail, the follow-through necessary to assure that long-term stewardship remains effective cannot reliably be counted on to occur.

Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites examines the capabilities and limitations of the scientific, technical, and human and institutional systems that compose the measures that DOE expects to put into place at potentially hazardous, residually contaminated sites.

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