Appointments and resignations – Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management: who is Ines Triay? – AllGov

When Barack Obama selected Inés R. Triay for the position of Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management (OEM), he decided that her qualifications as a 24-year veteran of the Department of Energy, including her oversight of a key nuclear waste disposal plant, outweighed any concerns about his political contributions to former President George W. Bush. Taking over the management of the Office of Environmental Management (OEM), which she has led on an interim basis since November 2008, Triay will be in charge of the United States government’s main nuclear waste cleanup operation, which concerns more than 100 sites located in across the United States.

Born in Cuba and raised in Puerto Rico, Triay, 51, came to the United States when she was three years old. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry, magna cum laude, and her doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Miami in Florida. Beginning in 1985, she conducted her postdoctoral studies at the Isotope and Nuclear Chemistry Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the nation’s leading scientific research centers for the development of weapons and other technologies.

She remained at Los Alamos for the next 14 years, serving in several key positions, including Los Alamos environmental representative to the Air Force at the Pentagon, recruiter for the lab, and leader of the Isotope Geochemistry Group. and environmental. In 1994, she was put in charge of the Environmental Science and Waste Technology Group at Los Alamos, and from October 1997 to January 1998, she served as Acting Deputy Director of the Chemical Science and Technology Division.

In April 1999, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson appointed Triay director of the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad field office in New Mexico. His duties included supervising the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the country’s only deep geological repository for the disposal of transuranic waste. (The transuranic elements, notably plutonium, have higher atomic numbers than uranium and they are radioactive. Transuranic waste is usually contaminated during the production of nuclear weapons.) During his tenure, the number of shipments of transuranic waste to the plant has increased from one or two per week to 25 per week.

However, in October 2003, it was revealed that 98 drums of nuclear waste arriving at WIPP had not been properly inspected. Later that month, Triay announced her resignation from the department and said she would start her own company “in the area of ​​homeland security.” In fact, she didn’t leave until January 2004, by which time no company had been established and instead she was in Washington, DC, working for OEM as an assistant operations manager. She was later promoted to Director of Operations in 2005. During her tenure in these positions, OEM completed the cleanup of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons site in Colorado and the Fernald uranium processing plant in Ohio. She was also instrumental in initiating remote transuranic waste disposal operations at WIPP in New Mexico.

In October 2007, Triay was appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for OEM, the highest civil service position for the office. She became Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management in November 2008.

Triay is a member of numerous professional organizations and has produced over 150 articles, papers, reports and presentations for professional conferences and workshops, as well as major trade publications.

Since 2001, she has given $3,500 in political contributions, all to two Republicans: George W. Bush ($2,000) and New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici ($1,500), according to

-Noel Brinkerhoff

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