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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Barr: 'You can’t take the geologist out of the individual, even when they retire'

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The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Legacy Management announced the retirement of program manager Debbie Barr Aug. 31.

Serving at the federal level of government for nearly four decades, Barr began working with the DOE in the mid-1990s at the Yucca Mountain Characterization Office, according to a Sept. 14 news release. Since then, Barr had managed the OLM's Uranium Leasing Program, Applied Science and Technology Program and National Lab Network.

“Every time when I’ve reached out for help, [my coworkers have] been supportive and unwavering in their help to accomplish whatever needed to be accomplished,” Barr said in the release. “It’s been so pervasive throughout my experience with LM, it would be hard to single out any specific stories. I couldn’t have worked with a better group of people!”

Looking back on her extensive work history, Barr found her time with AS&T and NLN to be the best part of her career, the release reported.

“The programs allowed me to be creative, think outside the box and develop an approach from scratch without a lot of the constraints of already stable and entrenched programs,” she said, according to the release. “There’s been no such thing as saying, ‘We can’t do it,’ because it isn’t acceptable due to precedent. The amount of collaborative work those two programs involve with other LM individuals hopefully allowed others in LM to experience the same creativity. I hope everyone I worked with in LM had the same fun I did in working in these areas.”

LM Office of Site Operations Director Jay Glascock praised Barr's energetic management style and how it brought ULP to a higher quality of work, the release reported.

“She put the program into high gear after the lifting of an eight-year court injunction, securing new leases, reestablishing partnerships and formalizing procedures. She sustained access to the mineral resources vital to national and energy security,” Glascock said in the release. “If not for her foresight and determination, the NLN’s support of LM’s mission would not exist. She brought science and technology to the forefront of operations.”

“She’s the epitome of a professional; always engaging, inspiring and cross teaming,” said Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act/Nevada Offsites programs supervisor Paul Kerl, according to the release. “She added so much energy and value in so many different programs over her tenure at LM. The compilation of her life’s work here at Legacy Management leaves a lasting legacy in itself.”

Barr also reflected on some of the oddities that she had seen during her work, the release said.

“At Calamity Camp (Colorado) it was so strange to be walking across loose core samples from the uranium exploration days where the wooden core storage had decayed and dumped loose core samples all over the place,” she said in the release. “Core is so expensive to obtain since you need to put in boreholes to get it, which is an expensive proposition. It seemed just wrong to be walking on the old core samples.”

Currently, Barr looks forward to volunteering at performing arts centers, taking classes on subjects unrelated to her past jobs and traveling more, according to the release.

“You can’t take the geologist out of the individual, even when they retire,” she said in the release. “I’m looking forward to continuing to impose on many of my friends and relatives at future opportunities with the geologic history of surrounding features and the latest growth in the related physical science fields. Hopefully that won’t drive people away.”

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