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Surface Remediation in the Aleutian Islands: A Case Study of Amchitka Island, Alaska

Description: Amchitka Island, Alaska, was at one time an integral player in the nation's defense program. Located in the North Pacific Ocean in the Aleutian Island archipelago, the island was intermittently inhabited by several key government agencies, including the U.S. Army, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (predecessor agency to the U.S. Department of Energy), and the U.S. Navy. Since 1993, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has conducted extensive investigations on Amchitka to determine the nature and extent of contamination resulting from historic nuclear testing. The uninhabited island was the site of three high-yield nuclear tests from 1965 to 1971. These test locations are now part of the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Operations Office's Environmental Management Program. In the summer of 2001, the DOE launched a large-scale remediation effort on Amchitka to perform agreed-upon corrective actions to the surface of the island. Due to the lack of resources available on Amchitka and logistical difficulties with conducting work at such a remote location, the DOE partnered with the Navy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to share certain specified costs and resources. Attempting to negotiate the partnerships while organizing and implementing the surface remediation on Amchitka proved to be a challenging endeavor. The DOE was faced with unexpected changes in Navy and USACE scope of work, accelerations in schedules, and risks associated with construction costs at such a remote location. Unfavorable weather conditions also proved to be a constant factor, often slowing the progress of work. The Amchitka Island remediation project experience has allowed the DOE to gain valuable insights into how to anticipate and mitigate potential problems associated with future remediation projects. These lessons learned will help the DOE in conducting future work more efficiently, and can also serve as a guide for other agencies performing similar work.
Date: February 25, 2002
Creator: Giblin, M. O.; Stahl, D. C. & Bechtel, J. A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department