Sandia LabNews

California Site wins major environmental management award from DOE


Sandia/California recently was awarded a prestigious DOE Pollution Prevention (P2) Star Award for the implementation of the site’s Environmental Management System (EMS).

“This is the highest pollution prevention award given out by DOE,” says Janet Harris (8516). “More importantly, this award recognizes the hard work of our entire site in implementing the EMS quickly and effectively.”

Titled “Unique Approaches and Techniques Resulting in Rapid and Effective EMS Implementation at SNL/CA,” the project first received an NNSA Environmental Stewardship Award last December. Those winners were then advanced to the DOE P2 Star Awards competition, which includes the entire DOE complex.

The team behind this effort received a Gold President’s Quality Award (PQA) for their work in 2006.

Sandia/New Mexico also received a DOE P2 Star Award for “HERMES III Waste Minimization Practices.”

Sandia/California implemented its EMS program in just 14 months, a process that took most other DOE facilities several years to complete. In 2003 DOE set a requirement for all of its facilities to have an environmental management system in place by December 2005.

Initially, Sandia/New Mexico led the EMS effort for all Labs sites. During the process it became clear the California site needed a separate EMS program because of the different environmental aspects of the two sites, especially in geography, local environmental laws, and the nature of the work conducted. Radioactive waste and heavy noise, for example, have a much lower risk ranking for California than for New Mexico.

In ranking the risk of environmental aspects, Sandia/California examined conditions under normal and off-normal operations to account for existing controls and compliance programs. Consideration for off-normal events allowed the inclusion of emergency aspects such as earthquake and fire as environmental aspects in the program.

A 2003 study by the US Geological Society concluded there is a 62 percent probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake striking the San Francisco Bay Area region before 2032.

In October 2004, the site established a core team consisting of Mark Brynildson, Deanna Dicker, Laurie Farren, Leslee Gardizi, Janet Harris, Robert Holland, Barbara Larsen, and Gary Shamber, all of Environmental Management Dept. 8516. The initial goal was to exceed the DOE requirements and establish an EMS that could achieve ISO 14001:2004 certification by the end of FY2007.

The core team started with a strong project management approach. They performed a detailed gap analysis against both DOE and ISO requirements. The gap analysis looked at which aspects of the DOE order the site was already meeting, and what was necessary to meet the remaining aspects.

“The results of the gap analysis were very encouraging,” says Barbara Larsen (8516), Environmental Planning & Ecology Program lead. “We found we weren’t missing much. The big pieces, such as targeted environmental programs and implementation of compliance requirements, were already in place. We needed to work on the supplemental activities such as documentation, communication, and training.”

In July 2005, the California site plan was audited by ES&H, Quality, and Safeguards & Security Dept. 12870. The auditors completed only a desk audit and interviewed core team members to verify that the elements of the EMS program met DOE requirements.

The EMS program has 19 aspects, each with its own broad objective to minimize environmental impact. Specific targets, including chemical inventory reduction, large-scale recycling, minimizing refueling on Spare the Air days, and green purchasing, support achievement in meeting the objectives.

“Our environmental aspects impact everyone in some way. Everyone made small changes for a big net effect,” says Janet. “In shipping and receiving, wood pallets are now recycled. Maintenance changes routine equipment fueling on Spare the Air days. OMAs seek out green purchasing whenever possible.”

The EMS has resulted in substantial progress in many environmental program areas. The hazardous material inventory was decreased by 15 percent in FY05 and an additional 12 percent in FY06, exceeding the goals set for both years.

Electrical energy use has declined significantly, from 38,483 megawatt hours (MWHs) in FY04 to 35,974 MWHs in FY06, a reduction of nearly 10 percent. By the end of FY2006, the site was recycling 3,836 pounds of toner cartridges, 1,367 pounds of aluminum beverage containers, 882 pounds of glass beverage containers, and 661 pounds of plastic beverage containers.

Barbara says a key ingredient to the success of the EMS was the commitment from site management, notably then-Div. 8000 VP Mim John.

“Having Mim’s firm commitment really helped in rolling out the EMS,” she says. “And Paul Hommert continues to provide a high level of support, leading the site in embracing this process. Everyone here has really put their arms around the EMS and taken ownership.”

Another key factor was the Interdisciplinary Team (IDT), which won a President’s Quality Award in 1999. The IDT consists of representatives from each environmental, safety and health (ES&H) subject area, facilities, and security. The IDT reviews all new or modified site activities and projects for their potential environmental impacts, and provides for incorporation of all environmental requirements.

The auditors approved Sandia/California’s EMS program with noteworthy recognition for going above and beyond the requirements. Division 8000 was the first in all of Sandia to self-declare that it had met the DOE requirement.

With the EMS plan in place, the core team pushed forward and achieved ISO 14001:2004 certification in September 2006, a year ahead of schedule. Division 8000 is the first organization at Sandia to receive this certification and is being viewed as a pilot for Sandia/New Mexico, which is aiming to receive certification by the end of FY08.

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