b'P ROVING THE P RINCIPLEthe sulfur, creating sulfuric acid. The In short, the IRC labs tackled everyacid etches the concrete surface and aspect of waste management. Scientistsloosens the top millimeters of the con- monitored and characterized waste,crete. After a few months, a human counted it, moved it, prevented it,comes along, vacuums the degraded reduced it, analyzed it, modeled it.concrete, and disposes of it. The They treated, burned, biomassed, shred-method was safer than dressing up a ded, buried, and exhumed waste. Someteam of people in anti-contamination of it they exploded, pumped, shrunk,gear to chip concrete. Besides, some calcined, or vitrified. Each activity wasradiation fields are too high to allow an opportunity for research, experi-this, or contamination resides in areas ment, and a comparison of alternatives.hard to reach. The method was better And always, the cleanup of the Site wasthan demolishing a whole building and a route to new ideas, new customers,treating the entire volume of rubble as a and new contracts. Every innovationradioactive waste. As of 1999, the eat was potentially a bridge to new oppor-INEEL 99-233-1-25 and be merry microbes were on their tunity.Above. Concrete-eating microbe gel has removed as way to the United Kingdom to provemuch as twelve millimeters of concrete per year in that they could clean up the concrete In 1995, after DOE Headquarters con-laboratory conditions. Below. Operator uses rapid walls of the Windscale Pile 1 reactor in vened a task force to consider thegeophysical surveyor at Bighorn Battlefield in Sellafield. 9 future of the national laboratory system,Montana. the group, chaired by Robert Galvin,Other IRC researchers built upon the recommended among other things thatcapabilities acquired during the Raft DOE more carefully coordinate andRiver geothermal project. They invent- focus the work of all of its labs. It sug-ed a rapid geophysical surveyor, gested that DOE identify lead labora-capable of seeing several feet beneath tories whose responsibility it would bethe surface of the old Burial Ground to take a broad national view of a spe-and differentiating the closely-spaced cific problem, assess or characterize it,pits and trenches from one another. and coordinate an overall strategy thatThis tool was also taken to the Bighorn would exploit the strengths of all DOEBattlefield in Montana to help find resources in solving it most efficiently.remains of twenty-eight soldiers who DOE followed this recommendation.had perished, historians believed, some- Designation as a lead lab, naturally,where in Deep Ravine. A private com- brought with it a certain prestige. Thepany in Idaho Falls went into business system attempted to end duplicativeto market the surveyor. The gadget then and inappropriate competition amongserved at a long list of Superfund sites the national labs. While the systemand other DOE facilities requiring implied some reduction in autonomydetailed characterization prior to for each lab in defining its mission, itcleanup. 10 also granted new opportunities for aINEEL 95-234-1-15 single lab to have an impact on anational problem or mission. 112 5 0'