American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

NRC Report on Building Effective Environmental Management Science Programs

In response to the escalating costs of cleaning up nuclear waste sites, the Fiscal Year 1996 Energy and Water Appropriations bill mandated the creation and $50 million funding of a Department of Energy (DOE) Environmental Management Science Program (EMSP) . EMSP has the specific objective of improving the cleanup effort of the Office of Environmental Management through basic research and technology development. Under Secretary of Energy Thomas P. Grumbly requested that the National Research Council (NRC) prepare a report that advises DOE on the structure and management of EMSP. The report was the third and final in a series of requests, and was prepared by the Committee on Building an Environmental Management Science Program, a joint activity of the NRC Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems; Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources; Commission on Life Sciences; and Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications. The study was chaired by John Ahearne, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and currently director of the Sigma Xi Center.

The report supports the creation of the EMSP and recommends that DOE develop a science plan for it which includes a "comprehensive list of significant cleanup problems in the nation's nuclear weapons complex that can be addressed through basic research an d a strategy for addressing them." Project selection should be based on a review of both the scientific and technical merit of the project as well as the relevance to the cleanup mission. EMSP should ensure that the investigators working on these issues represent a broad range of disciplines, and should encourage partnerships between industry, academia, and national laboratories as well as encourage graduate student research. Finally, EMSP should work to increase funds, and ensure projects are fully fu nded in advance.

Additional information and order forms are available from the National Academy Press at 800-624-6242 and on the NAP web site.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at

Contributed by Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs.
Posted July 15, 1997 (Technical change: 12-14-97)

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