IG critiques the ORNL steam plant resolution

steamAn elevated view of the Boiler Operating Area at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s reconfigured Steam Plant. (ORNL photo/Jason Richards)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General this week issued an audit report that looked at the agency’s resolution of the steam plant problems at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ORNL came to an agreement for a new gas-fired steam plant with Johnson Controls after the earlier biomass-fuel system failed to work as planned and created a hazardous environment.

Although the situation was reportedly resolved in a positive way, the IG identified some lingering issues.

The IG report stated that the DOE Site Office (headed by Johnny Moore) “had taken what it considered to be the best option to resolve the . . . biomass plant issues,” the report stated.

“We noted that the Site Office had considered several options to resolve the operational issues and had worked with Johnson Controls to arrive at a long-term solution to supply steam for ORNL’s needs,” the IG report stated. “Although the Site Office was able to modify its (Energy Savings Performance Contract) with no increase to the value . . . , we noted that an issue with the original terms and conditions of the (contract) could have complicated the resolution process.”

The IG report further noted: “By replacing the biomass plant with a natural gas system, the Site Office will again rely on fossil fuel, despite Departmental goals to reduce fossil fuel consumption and to increase its reliance on renewable energy sources.”

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This entry was posted in DOE IG, Energy Issues, ORNL, ORO on by .

About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.