97-45
Issued May 1, 1997

 

ASSOCIATED UNIVERSITIES, INC. AND BROOKHAVEN LAB ANNOUNCE AGGRESSIVE RESPONSE
TO DEPT. OF ENERGY REVIEW

UPTON, NY - Associated Universities, Inc. and Brookhaven National Laboratory are acting aggressively to improve their environment, safety and health programs, following today's release of a comprehensive review of those programs by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The review is contained in a report, called the Integrated Safety Management Evaluation of BNL, that caps three months of an in-depth examination by a team from the Office of Oversight in DOE's Division of Environment, Safety and Health. The investigation looked at BNL activities,and those of DOE organizations that oversee the Lab.

AUI and BNL have already begun to address the two specific areas that the report identifies as needing immediate action - hazard control and supervision for electrical work at an accelerator facility, and training for radiological technicians.

But foremost among the global responses by AUI and BNL to the DOE report are management changes, effective May 1, that will give a new and intense emphasis to environment, safety and health programs throughout the Laboratory.

As announced April 28, Lyle Schwartz will serve as BNL's Interim Director, assisted by two Interim Deputy Directors, Peter Bond and Michael Bebon. The team will serve until a replacement is found for retiring BNL Director Nicholas Samios.

"We fully accept the DOE report's findings," said Schwartz. "Now, we must strive to change our environment, safety and health culture so that we can elevate those programs to the same level as the award-winning science for which Brookhaven is world-renowned."

A second component of the Laboratory's response comprises three internal reviews: first, a thorough evaluation, whose findings were made public today, of BNL's environment, safety and health decision-making process; second, a new "attic to basement" look at the potential environmental impact of the Lab's current operations; and third, an ongoing review of BNL's extensive historical environmental monitoring records.

Additionally, BNL's response to the findings will encompass numerous changes in everything from how budgets are planned to how managers are evaluated. Within the short term, BNL will submit a more detailed implementation plan, outlining specific actions to be taken, together with associated cost, schedule and management information.

Moving Forward

The DOE report lays out areas where BNL and the DOE offices that oversee BNL's operations can improve their handling of environment, safety and health (ES&H).

In order to implement the report's recommendations:

Associated Universities, Inc., the nonprofit research management organization that operates BNL under contract to DOE, will establish an external ES&H management improvement team, which will include representatives from other national laboratories and industry. The team will provide overall guidance on strengthening organizational and management structures required to fully integrate ES&H.

BNL will revitalize and reconstitute its ES&H Management Advisory Group to include BNL senior managers and will invite representatives from DOE, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to participate. A communications plan will be designed to assure public involvement.

The Management Advisory Group will review the process used to rank environment, health and safety programs at BNL, and restructure it as necessary to assure that resources are used to address the highest-priority areas and that no unacceptable risks are not addressed due to lack of resources.

BNL senior managers will commit to frequent interaction with the Long Island community to ensure that that they are fully aware of and responsive to community concerns in the future.

Decision-Making Review Completed

BNL took the first proactive step in its new approach to ES&H on March 3, when the Laboratory Director appointed a committee to review the Lab's decision-making process in those areas. It was headed by Robert Bari, Chair of BNL's Department of Advanced Technology, and included a representative from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

The committee's recommendations touch on areas that include: how funds are allocated for ES&H projects, how those projects are ranked, and how the Laboratory takes into account considerations of community sensitivities and regulatory commitments.

Schwartz emphasized that fulfilling the recommendations of the decision-making review will simultaneously respond to the DOE investigation's findings. For example, he noted, "On April 14 we began a sitewide, attic-to-basement review of our facilities, with the aim of preventing groundwater pollution from any of our current operations. Suffolk County is fully involved, as is DOE. The review will be completed by July 1."

In general, Schwartz continued, "BNL and AUI find the DOE report to be well-founded, presenting a balanced assessment that will be a valuable tool in our move toward an integrated safety management culture at the Laboratory. We appreciate the efforts of the team, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with DOE to begin the long process of regaining public trust and to restoring BNL's reputation with government bodies and the scientific community."

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