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ORNL Disaster Efforts Recognized

The lab received an Achievement Award for its response to 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Fukushima reactor accident.

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 7, 2011 — Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are among those recognized by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu with Achievement Awards for their efforts in response to two major global events: the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and the Fukushima reactor accident. A successful project to secure uranium and plutonium in the former Soviet Union was also recognized.

The Secretary of Energy Achievement Awards are the highest nonmonetary awards an employee or contractor can receive from DOE. Achievement Award winners are selected by the Secretary after panel review. They recognize exceptional service and collaboration by a DOE team of employees or contractors.

Jeff Binder, currently acting associate laboratory director of Nuclear Science & Engineering, and Jeremy Busby of the Fuel Cycle & Isotopes Division were recognized for contributions to DOE's response to the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan on March 11. The tsunami caused extensive damage to the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Teams of employees from the National Nuclear Security Administration, Office of Nuclear Energy and Office of Science were assembled to assess the consequences of the releases of radiation from the damaged nuclear power plants; advise U.S. and Japanese government officials in support of immediate decision-making and longer term stabilization planning; and conduct extensive technical analyses in support of potential mitigation and recovery strategies.

In addition to Binder and Busby, ORNL staff members who received letters of thanks from Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Pete Lyons were George Flanagan, Matthew Francis, Ian Gauld, Jess Gehin, Larry Ott, Mike Poore, Joel Risner,Venu Varma, John Wagner, Chuck Weber and Grady Yoder.

ORNL's Dave Hetrick, Charlotte Barbier and Sreekanth Pannala were part of a multi-agency team of researchers cited with an Achievement Award for their contribution to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in summer 2010.

The three represented ORNL in efforts that included Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Pacific Northwest national laboratories, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University. The multi-agency's effort was deemed critical to estimating the rate of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico and, in turn, developing options to cap the well.

Randall Snipes of ORNL's Global Nuclear Security Technology Division was cited as part of a team that transported and secured spent fuel containing 10 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and 3 metric tons of weapon-grade plutonium from Kazakhstan's BN-350 fast breeder reactor.

The Achievement Award for the 14-year program also included the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Idaho, Los Alamos and Pacific Northwest national laboratories.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE's Office of Science.