This paper provides a case history of a highly successful approach that was developed and implemented for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the cleanup and remediation of a large and diverse population of uranium mill tailings sites located in the Western United States. The paper addresses the key management challenges and lessons learned from the largest DOE Environmental Management Clean-up Project (in terms of number of individual clean-up sites) undertaken in the United States. From 1986 to 1996, the Department of Energy’s Grand Junction Projects Office (GJPO) completed approximately 4600 individual remedial action site cleanup projects for large- and small-scale properties, and sites contaminated with residual hazardous and radioactive materials from former uranium mining and milling activities. These projects, with a total value of $597 million, involved site characterization, remedial design, waste removal, cleanup verification, transportation, and disposal of nearly 2.7 million cubic yards of low-level and mixed low-level waste. The project scope included remedial action at 4,200 sites in Grand Junction, Colorado, and Edgemont, South Dakota; 412 sites in Monticello, Utah; and, 44 sites in Denver, Colorado. The projects ranged in size and complexity from the multi-year Monticello Millsite Remedial Action Project, which involved investigations, characterization, remedial design, and remedial action at this uranium millsite along with design of a 2.5 million cubic yard disposal cell, to the remediation and reconstruction of thousands of smaller commercial and residential properties throughout the Southwestern United States. Because these projects involved remedial action at a variety of commercial facilities, businesses, churches, schools and personal residences, and the transportation of the waste through towns and communities, an extensive public involvement program was the cornerstone of an effort to promote stakeholder understanding and acceptance. The Project established a DOE model for rapid, economical, and effective remedial action. During the ten years of the contract, the management operations contractor (Duratek) met all project milestones on schedule and under budget, with no cost growth from the original scope. By streamlining remediation schedules and techniques, ensuring effective stakeholder communications, and transferring lessons learned from one project to the next, the contractor achieved maximum efficiency and the lowest remediation costs of any similar DOE environmental programs at the time.

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