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Release Date: 05/15/2002
Contact Information: Carl Terry (404) 562-8325
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the State of Tennessee have signed a letter of intent to accelerate cleanup at the Oak Ridge Reservation. EPA Region 4 Administrator Jimmy Palmer, Assistant Secretary of Energy Jessie Roberson, DOE Oak Ridge Operations Office Manager Michael Holland, and Deputy to the Governor for Policy Justin Wilson signed the letter formalizing the commitment, which outlines plans to clean up high risk sites at the Oak Ridge Reservation by 2008, and substantially complete the balance of work by 2016. Completion was originally slated for 2021.

"This letter of intent demonstrates our shared commitment to doing more comprehensive work, using innovative approaches ad getting the job done sooner than anyone thought possible," said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. <"Continued cooperation among EPA, DOE, and the State of Tennessee is producing significant benefits for the people of Oak Ridge. It's another major accomplishment in our collective efforts to ensure protection of human health and the environment."

EPA and the state of Tennessee have committed to work with DOE to develop a plan to implement the commitment. The plan is expected to resolve a formal dispute between EPA, Tennessee, and DOE regarding the pace and extent of DOE cleanup at Oak Ridge.

The commitment outlined in the letter of intent will achieve at least the following: completion of the activities in the Melton Valley Interim Record of Decision (ROD); cleanup of East Tennessee Technology Park; and completion of other high priority projects by 2008. The activities required in the Melton Valley Interim ROD will be completed nine years earlier than was previously projected. This accelerated cleanup will save an estimated $85 million and significantly reduce contamination to the Clinch River. The East Tennessee Technology Park will be closed eight years early, saving an estimated $870 million in cleanup and maintenance costs. All stored legacy waste will be disposed of and depleted uranium hexafluoride cylinders will be moved off-site. The use of on-site disposal facilities will be studied to ensure rapid cleanup.

EPA, DOE and Tennessee also signed the Bethel Valley and Upper East Fork Poplar Creek RODs committing to long-term cleanup at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex. The Bethel Valley ROD requires cleanup to protect people and the environment from exposures to hazardous substances in and around Oak Ridge National Lab, particularly industrial workers in the main plant. Other actions will protect recreational users in selected waste management areas, future recreational users of surface water and future residential users of undeveloped areas. The Y-12 cleanup efforts will improve the surface water quality of the Upper East Fork Poplar Creek and make substantial progress toward long-term water quality improvements.

The accelerated cleanup plan and the records of decision will meet the objectives outlined in the Administration's fiscal year 2003 budget request. It is anticipated that near-term increases in cleanup budgets will decrease the overall, long-term cost of cleanup to taxpayers.