Environmental Management of Department of Energy Facilities
In 1989, the Department of Energy created the Office of Environmental Management to mitigate the risks and hazards posed by the legacy of nuclear weapons production and research. While the United States maintains a nuclear weapons production mission, the nation has embarked on new missions as well. One of the most ambitious and far ranging of these missions is dealing with the environmental legacy of the Cold War.
Similar to most industrial and manufacturing operations, the nuclear complex generated waste, pollution and contamination, yet in many cases, the problems are unique. There are unprecedented amounts of contaminated waste, water, and soil as well as a number of contaminated structures that will remain radioactive for thousands of years.
More than a quarter of the states play host to, or are in close proximity of, a DOE facility. These facilities include the national laboratories, weapons production facilities and waste disposal facilities such as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).
Legislators and other state officials can exercise oversight of nuclear waste cleanup by participating in development of interagency agreements and becoming active in a variety of working groups and advisory bodies.