Computing’s Partnership with Environmental Programs at the Lab Adds Up to Environmental Stewardship
To support the Lab’s commitment to environmental stewardship, Computing employees play a critical role in supporting the Environmental Restoration Department (ERD), Environment, Safety, and Health (ESH), and Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Management (RHWM).
Their work supports the transformation of the Lab’s environmental information management systems over the years from basic spreadsheets and desktop databases to developing integrated online databases and applications that facilitate investigation, characterization, decision support, planning, sampling, and monitoring.
Healthy Employees + Safe Workplace
For Dianne Calloway in Computing’s Enterprise Application Services Division, supporting the Lab’s commitment to environmental stewardship starts with tracking the health and safety of every individual employee—because if the employees or their workspace isn’t safe or healthy, it can present a potential threat to the environment. Calloway’s team manages device interfaces for every instrument associated with the Electronic Health Record (EHR) used by the Health Services staff.
When it comes to making sure the work environment at the Lab is safe, Calloway’s Computing team has developed custom-built applications to identify the locations that need to be monitored and the dates specific sampling activities need to be completed to ensure environmental and worker safety. The team works with a variety of ES&H specialists to automate the workflow—reducing manual processes, eliminating data entry errors, and facilitating comprehensive data reporting.
Calloway’s team also supports ChemTrack: a cradle-to-grave database that monitors all chemicals used at the Lab. ChemTrack users can see a container’s chemical contents, the custodian, and assigned location info as well as its complete history: when it was acquired, received, used, and disposed. ChemTrack also keeps tabs on how much of a chemical there is, where it is stored, and if the quantity exceeds safe storage limits. Additionally, ChemTrack reduces waste, promotes sharing, aids in emergency preparedness and spill response, supports legacy hazardous chemical remediation, and provides data for legally mandated reporting to state, local, and federal environmental agencies.
Planning + Sampling + Analysis + Reporting
Gary Laguna, the deputy division leader for Computing’s Applications, Simulations, and Quality (ASQ) in Computing, and his team support ERD and ESH’s Environmental Functional Area (EFA) as part of the Lab’s commitment to environmental leadership by developing and maintaining systems and applications that ensure that the Lab does not unintentionally contaminate the soil, ground water, or air, and to manage and assess the clean-up of legacy waste from the Lab’s use as U.S. Naval Air Station during World War II.
The systems developed by Computing’s ERD/EFA team support LLNL’s environmental stewardship through data collection, process automation, and data analysis. Applications developed by the team facilitate the annual collection and analysis of about 5,400 groundwater samples from nearly 1,600 onsite wells. Computing staff have developed dashboards with real-time overviews and the ability to drill-down into continuous data gathered from about 50,000 sensors from the Lab’s 36 water and soil vapor treatment facilities.
To manage all these samples, Computing staff work closely with subject matter experts on a suite of applications collectively known as TEIMS (Taurus Environmental Information Management System). TEIMS allows environmental staff to coordinate the sampling schedule, prevents duplicative work between ERD and EFA, and minimizes the number of trips to sampling locations.
By performing year-over-year analysis of TEIMS data, the Lab’s environmental teams can optimize processes and create sampling plans for the coming year to make the most of Lab resources. And ultimately, TEIMS compiles and provides comprehensive data required by state, local, and federal environmental authorities for regulatory reporting.
Radioactive & Hazardous Waste Management
LWASTE, an integrated, information gathering database of waste generated at the Lab, will be streamlining and consolidating waste data for the Lab’s RHWM program.
Three years in the making, and set to launch beta testing in the next year, LWASTE is being developed by Computing, and will track the type and amount of waste, who generated it, as well as if waste is treated, shipped, or stored. LWASTE will also let field techs know when to drop off storage drums at a work or project site, how many drums will be needed, and when to collect waste for treatment and analysis. Finally, at the end of the waste’s lifecycle, LWASTE will provide data to EFA and ERD for regulatory reporting.
For the Computing team, developing this in-house tool has meant working shoulder-to-shoulder with stakeholders to understand existing processes, determine workflows, and identify issues inherent in the system, and then reverse engineering those glitches to create a smoother, easier process for users.
“Because LWASTE is customizable, the RHWM program will be able to think more strategically. They’ll be able to see what experiments or projects are in the pipeline, and plan around those events,” says lead developer Steven Rodriguez. “LWASTE is about modernizing and helping RHWM into the future.”
As nuclear safety software, LWASTE has been developed under stringent software quality assurance protocols. Rodriguez continues, “If we don’t get the calculations right, we could jeopardize the environmental safety of the Lab as well as employees.”
Computing’s current and emergent tools like LWASTE help the environmental programs at the Lab to execute their duties more efficiently with higher quality data. Laguna is proud “of the strong collaborative partnership between Computing, ERD, and EFA over the decades,” and the evolution of LLNL’s environmental information management systems from terminal-based apps to dynamic web-based tools that gather and provide important data analysis for managers, hydrogeologists, and environmental technicians at the Lab. Calloway, who has also witnessed the evolution of Computing alongside the Lab’s environmental leadership, says, “The goal is to make sure everyone comes to work healthy, that the work environment remains safe, and that everyone goes home to their families healthy.”
—Genevieve Sexton, LLNL