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DOE Secretary Chu honors ORAU employees for Japan crisis response

Nov. 7, 2011

Sixteen ORAU employees received U.S. Department of Energy Secretarial Honor Awards for their work supporting the agency in responding to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor crisis in Japan. The awards were presented in Washington, D.C., by Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

ORAU’s team was honored alongside National Nuclear Security Administration employees and contractors who made up the Nuclear Incident Team that was activated as the Fukushima reactor crisis began. In response to a radiological or nuclear incident, the NIT’s mission is to coordinate NNSA assets for deployment, continually monitor deployment activities and provide NNSA management with the latest available information. It is staffed and fully operational within two hours of notification and remains active on a 24/7 basis for the duration of the incident.

“The response teams’ extraordinary efforts under immense pressure provided real time information to those at the highest levels of the U.S. government who were making decisions that would impact the health and safety of U.S. citizens in Japan, as well as to the Government of Japan,” said Secretary Chu in the citation delivered with each award.

The ORAU employees who were honored specialize in emergency preparedness and response and support DOE through the agency’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education. The following individuals received DOE Secretary’s Honor Awards: Mirentxu Arrivillaga, Travis Bertram, Mark Breitinger, Brandon Cavanaugh, John Crapo, Mark DeNome, Billy Haley, Lon Horiuchi, Ted Jakubowski, Brendan Palmer, Ken Perry, Nate Russo, Allison Saunders, Bill Shulman, Anna Sierra, Karla Tejada and Connie White-Yelder.

“This is a tremendous honor and recognition for these ORAU employees as well as the entire Nuclear Incident Team,” said ORAU President and CEO Andy Page. “The nature of this work requires a great deal of time, sacrifice and leadership, and all of us at ORAU congratulate this team and thank them for a job well done.”

Additional ORAU employees participated in other aspects of DOE’s response in Japan, including eight employees who deployed to Japan to support DOE Senior Energy Officials and Liaison Officers as well as physicians and health physicists at the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center and Training Site, known as REAC/TS, who provided consultation on managing the health effects of radiation exposure.

The DOE Secretary’s Honor Awards represent the highest level of internal, nonmonetary recognition for DOE federal and contractor employees. The recipients of these awards are selected by the Secretary following a panel review and are presented annually at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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