Waste Management SymposiaLast week I was in Phoenix for the 2014 Waste Management Conference — one of the leading industry events for environmental professionals who work with global radioactive waste management. I’ve found this conference to be one of the best venues for exchanging information with environmental colleagues from around the world, specifically as it relates to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) market and worldwide nuclear industry.

I made it a point to attend several presentations that gave me a better understanding of the projects going on within the DOE complex and what types of environmental work is being done — types of contaminants, investigations, remediation, etc.

Two presentations really stood out. The first was “Remediation of Contaminated Groundwater at Complex Sites: Overview of Alternative Endpoints and Approaches” by Rula Deeb of Geosyntec Consultants. Deeb’s presentation focused on findings, statistics and case studies from a recently completed report for the Department of Defense’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) on alternative endpoints and approaches for groundwater remediation at complex sites under a variety of federal and state cleanup programs.

The second was “Site Transitions — Moving from Cleanup to Long-Term Stewardship” by the DOE’s Jane Powell. Powell’s presentation focused on the importance of long-term stewardship — including physical controls, institutions, information and other mechanisms — in order to protect people and the environment at sites where the DOE has performed cleanup, like landfill closures, remedial actions, removal actions and facility stabilization.

After the presentations, I had the opportunity to speak with both Deeb and Powell about environmental issues common in the industry and how they were managed at these DOE project sites.

One of my favorite things about conferences like this is the connections that I made. I met many people from all roles within the DOE nuclear industry, many of whom I would not typically have an opportunity to work with, like manufacturers and parts providers who supply specific equipment associated with the nuclear industry. It’s always amazing to see the variety of companies represented at the conference, including small businesses and large corporations, each with a unique service.

If the Waste Management Conference was on your calendar last week, I’d love to hear more about your key takeaways. Feel free to leave a comment below. Also, if you’re in the industry and we’re not yet connected on LinkedIn, let’s fix that.

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Tim Stecher is a project manager and oversees the waste management department in the Burns & McDonnell Environmental Group.