In January of 1997, residents of the area surrounding the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory first learned of a tritium leak into groundwater beneath the Laboratory’s High Flux Beam Reactor.  After months of bitter public recrimination and high-profile protests by activists, the Department of Energy (DOE) fired the contractor that had managed the 3,000-employee research laboratory for more than five decades and shook up the DOE management responsible for contract oversight. The new contractor, Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA), immediately recognized that community trust in management of the facility – reflected by local residents, elected officials, and the local and regional press – bordered on the nonexistent, and BSA undertook a massive project to restore public confidence in Brookhaven.  Guided by an independent peer review panel and a new set of performance measures by DOE, the Laboratory has instituted a series of innovative and successful community relations and community participation activities that are changing both the traditional culture of secrecy and isolation at Brookhaven National Laboratory as well as restoring public trust in this research facility as a community asset.  Among the programs to be discussed will be scientist outreach to the community, community opinion assessment, and community participation in scientific decisions at the Laboratory.
 

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Managing the trust portfolio
Restoring public trust at the U.S. department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory

Rick E. Borchelt   U.S. Department of Energy

Marge Lynch   Brookhaven National Laboratory

In January of 1997, residents of the area surrounding the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory first learned of a tritium leak into groundwater beneath the Laboratory’s High Flux Beam Reactor.  After months of bitter public recrimination and high-profile protests by activists, the Department of Energy (DOE) fired the contractor that had managed the 3,000-employee research laboratory for more than five decades and shook up the DOE management responsible for contract oversight. The new contractor, Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA), immediately recognized that community trust in management of the facility – reflected by local residents, elected officials, and the local and regional press – bordered on the nonexistent, and BSA undertook a massive project to restore public confidence in Brookhaven.  Guided by an independent peer review panel and a new set of performance measures by DOE, the Laboratory has instituted a series of innovative and successful community relations and community participation activities that are changing both the traditional culture of secrecy and isolation at Brookhaven National Laboratory as well as restoring public trust in this research facility as a community asset.  Among the programs to be discussed will be scientist outreach to the community, community opinion assessment, and community participation in scientific decisions at the Laboratory.
 

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