November 4, 1999

I. Schedule

On November 8, Assistant Secretary Michaels is scheduled to speak at the American Public Health Association meeting in Chicago, IL. 

On November 16, Dr. Michaels will travel to Albuquerque, NM to speak at the P2 Pollution Prevention Conference. (Loretta Young, EH-1, 202-586-6151)

II. Key Departmental News

Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant:

EH Investigation: The EH Investigation Team has completed on-site interviews for Phase II of the review and is now analyzing the information in preparation for a return visit scheduled to begin on November 9.

Mass Balance: A sub-team, charged with identifying uranium streams and their relative radiological hazards for use in the Paducah investigation, met in Oak Ridge during October 26 and 27. The sub-team agreed upon several aspects of the overall problem, and developed an outline of a final report and a schedule. It will meet again in Oak Ridge November 17-18, and will plan to issue its report by early December.

Expanded Medical Monitoring/Compensation Legislation: The project is exploring ways to proceed given current funding limitations. Draft legislation is being internally reviewed prior to release to OMB.

Exposure Assessment Projects: A plan to extend current funding is being drawn up. Beginning next week and continuing through December, the University of Utah will have a "skeleton crew" working on the projects. Some funds will be diverted to keep the program minimally active. (Joe Fitzgerald, EH-5, 202-586-1315; Dave Stadler,EH-2, 301-903-6457)

The Former Workers Program Semi-annual Coordination Meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 16 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. The principal investigators and other representatives of each of the 10 projects will meet with EH Office of Health Studies management and staff to provide updates on their medical screening of former workers whose health may be at risk due to occupational exposures which occurred while working at DOE facilities. (Andrew Lawrence, EH-6, 301-903-5926)

Surplus Plutonium Disposition Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). After advising the Secretary's staff and forwarding an Information Memorandum to the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health (EH-1) approved the Final EIS on October 29, 1999, subject to incorporation of comments. The Final EIS is expected to be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency on November 5, with a Notice of Availability to be published in the Federal Register on November 12. A Record of Decision is anticipated in December. (Carol Borgstrom, EH-42, 202-586-4600)

Final Site-wide Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Distribution of the Site-wide EIS was completed on October 22, and the Environmental Protection Agency published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register on October 29. A Record of Decision can be issued no sooner than November 29. (Carol Borgstrom, EH-42, 202-586-4600)

Idaho High-level Waste and Facilities Disposition Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). On September 28, the Office of Environmental Management (EM) asked the Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health (EH-1) to approve the Draft EIS. EH and Office of General Counsel staff are working with EM, Idaho Operations Office, and State of Idaho staffs on remaining issues. The State of Idaho is a cooperating agency in the preparation of this EIS. The Office of NEPA Policy and Assistance expects to recommend very soon that EH-1 approve the document. (Carol Borgstrom, EH-42, 202-586-4600)

Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Accomplishing Expanded Civilian Nuclear Energy Research and Development and Isotope Production Missions, Including the Role of the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF). The public scoping period ended on October 31. The last public scoping meeting was held in Washington, D.C., on October 27. Major issues raised at this latest meeting concerned restart of FFTF, the need for medical isotopes (both for and against), Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulation of the FFTF if restarted, and cleanup of the Hanford Site. This Programmatic EIS will evaluate a range of options to meet Nuclear Energy's civilian research and development and isotope production needs, including the use of existing facilities, operation of FFTF, and building new facilities. (Carol Borgstrom, EH-42, 202-586-4600)

Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a Potential Radioactive Waste Disposal Repository at Yucca Mountain. The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (RW) has conducted seven of seventeen planned hearings on the draft EIS. The hearings each have been moderate-to-well attended. Among the most frequent comments are concerns about transportation of spent nuclear fuel, including a criticism that the EIS failed to analyze specific transportation routes. Other commentors stated that the EIS fails to analyze a realistic No Action alternative and potential socioeconomic impacts on Las Vegas. Office of NEPA Policy and Assistance staff plan to participate in future hearings in Nevada in Caliente (November 9), Reno (December 1), Carson City (December 2), and Las Vegas (January 11, 2000). The comment period will end on February 9. (Carol Borgstrom, EH-42, 202-586-4600)

III. Work on Secretarial Initiatives

Beryllium Worker Initiative: By the end of this week, the proposed final rule 10 CFR Part 850, Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Program (CBDPP) is expected to receive Field Management Council (FMC) concurrence. Only a few steps remain in process begun approximately 2 years ago. These include Secretary Richardson's approval, and transmittal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final approval by other Federal agencies. With OMB clearance the Rule is then transmitted to the Government Printing Office for publication in the Federal Register. Promulgation will result in additional controls to further reduce employee beryllium dust exposure and also significantly enhance an already aggressive medical surveillance program. (Joe Fitzgerald, EH-5, 202-586-1315)

IV. Press Inquiries

V. FOIA Requests

VI. Grants, Economic Announcements and Publications

VII. Climate Change

VIII. Disaster Assistance