< CRESP Group Celebrates 25 Years of Continued Funding from the U.S. Department of Energy with a Five-year Grant Renewal | EOHSI

CRESP Celebrates 25 Years of Continued Funding from the U.S. Department of Energy with a Five-year Grant Renewal

The Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholders Participation was founded by Bernard Goldstein, first EOHSI director and first Principal Investigator of CRESP.

Since 1995 CRESP has been researching ways to advance cost-effective clean up of the nation’s nuclear weapons production waste sites and test facilities. The Consortium was created  as an independent institutional mechanism to develop data and methodology to make risk a key part of its decision making at the Environmental Management Office of DOE. EOHSI’s Michael Gochfeld and Joanna Burger are among its key faculty members leading research in CRESP projects such as:

  • Remediation

  • Near Surface Disposal & Long-term Stewardship

  • Nuclear Waste Management Policy & Strategy

  • Hanford Site-Wide Risk Review Project

  • Stakeholder Engagement & Communication.

To learn more about CRESP projects and researchers, visit www.cresp.org.





By Michael Gochfeld and Joanna Burger

Few academic research programs survive more than two decades. In August, 2019, the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP), founded at EOHSI, celebrated its 25th year of consecutive funding by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 

Why CRESP? After World War II, the Cold War Arms Race to build and test ever-larger nuclear weapons was conducted with little regard for the careful disposal of hazardous radioactive and chemical wastes at the giant, secretive industrial facilities where plutonium was produced and H-bombs assembled. The sudden ending of the Cold War ca 1990, shifted the DOE mission from making bombs to cleanup of the Cold War’s nuclear legacy of hazardous waste.  Riding the 1980s tide of environmentalism,  “Cleanup” became a national priority, but the Department of Energy and its contractors were bomb builders accustomed to total secrecy, and had neither experience nor stomach for cleanup, let alone transparency.  

A National Academy of Sciences review panel (1992) urged the Department to take on an Academic partner to provide credibility for the Federal Government’s cleanup role, and in 1994 Rutgers formed a consortium with the University of Washington that competed successfully for the single, large cooperative agreement. Bernard Goldstein (RWJMS-EOHSI) served as the PI, Gilbert Ommen (U.Washington) as co-PI and Charles Powers as the director.  Whereas DOE traditionally ignored the stakeholders around its secretive contaminated sites, CRESP was formed with the concept of stakeholder concerns and interests as central to the research and risk communication mission.   Michael Gochfeld (RWJMS), Joanna Burger (FAS), Michael Greenberg (Bloustein) and David Kosson (Engineering) were involved with Goldstein and Powers on the initial grant, and are still core researchers of CRESP.

CRESP has evolved over the quarter century, but maintains its central mission of providing expertise and research support to DOE’s environmental management mission.  The Central office is now at Vanderbilt University with David Kosson (Rutgers PhD) as the PI.  Ongoing projects address the risks from different kinds of radioactive and chemical wastes in different places (soil, ground water, buildings) and different rates of movement with potential exposure to neighbors at the fenceline, or downwind or downriver. CRESP brought DOE’s attention to the protection of the cleanup workers who must work under potentially highly hazardous conditions to decontaminate and demolish the contaminated factory structures and waste sites.  CRESP now embraces a dozen universities and an equal number of disciplines, and its continued assistance to the DOE has resulted in millions of dollars saved through improved risk evaluations, decision analysis, and remediation techniques.  The CRESP members from EOSHI (Gochfeld, Greenberg, Burger) have conducted ecological and human health risk assessment, risk evaluations, communication strategies, and have involved stakeholders in projects at Hanford Site (Washington), INEEL (Idaho), SRS (South Carolina), Oak Ridge (Tennessee), Brookhaven (New York) and Amchitka (Alaska), among others.  CRESP’s important work has been recognized in a five year renewal of funding in support of the nuclear cleanup mission. The cleanup task remains huge and hazardous, with some radioactive waste still “too hot” to manage, requiring decay time or new technologies.  The cleanup is expected to last at least until 2090, at a cost of about $6 billion/year. Many of the “cleaned up” lands retain high levels of radiation that will keep them off limits for humans for centuries.