Former Los Alamos Laboratory employee Pat Gallagher was recognized by the Department of Energy for her lifelong commitment to pollution prevention at the Laboratory and New Mexico.

Lifelong efforts of Laboratory employee Pat Gallagher recognized posthumously

The Department of Energy recently recognized the lifelong commitment of Patricia Gallagher to pollution prevention with the 2018 Department of Energy Sustainability Award for Sustainability Champion. Gallagher - a former Group Leader in Environmental Protection and Compliance - was one of the pillars of the DOE sustainability community, but regrettably passed away in 2017 before receiving the recognition for her efforts.

“Pat Gallagher was my mentor and friend,” said Jen Payne, deputy division leader for Environmental Protection and Compliance. “She had a wicked sense of humor and no poker face; her facial expressions revealed her true thoughts and feelings about a topic. She was a force to be reckoned with and she helped to put sustainability efforts at the Laboratory in place throughout her career. Her legacy lives on in new generations of staff whom she helped to hire. She is missed.”

Gallagher devoted her long career to pollution prevention (P2), waste minimization and sustainability as demonstrated by her career in founding pollution prevention programs for the State of Wyoming, as a founder and officer of the National Pollution Prevention Society and through a career at Los Alamos National Laboratory that took her from staff member in the Risk Reduction group to P2 Team Leader to Group Leader in the Environmental Protection Division where she integrated sustainability concepts into National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Natural and Biological Resources management, Air and Water Programs and the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System.

The methods and philosophy that Gallagher employed throughout her career to integrate sustainability into operations offer insights that are useful for pollution prevention and waste minimization Laboratory-wide.

She recognized that all organizations run on systems and according to a variety of professional standards. Her early efforts to improve energy, water and resource consumption at Los Alamos ran into resistance due to aging infrastructure and outdated building standards. However, Gallagher persisted, working with the with the Laboratory's Engineering Standards Group and enabled several workers to attend specialized training to overcome these obstacles. Over time, the newly trained staff systematically incorporated sustainability requirements into Engineering and Building Standards to change the rules in favor of sustainability.

Recognizing the constant competition for resources and management attention, Gallagher learned to systematically establish a business case for P2 and sustainable practices by demonstrating the monetary, safety and risk reduction returns for each effort. For example, Gallagher was instrumental in establishing the annual Los Alamos National Laboratory P2 Awards program nearly 20 years ago. This program recognizes individuals and teams that implement cost savings, waste elimination or sustainability projects.

Gallagher believed that communications and cooperation were basic building blocks for the implementation of sustainable practices. This has been especially important at Los Alamos where strategic sustainability performance plans (SSPP), environmental compliance, prevention, cleanup and sustainability functions were historically managed in separate line organizations with their own budgets and priorities.

Lastly, Gallagher recognized that sustainability is a long-term journey, not a single project or program. Her greatest legacy is manifested in the staff that she recruited, trained, and inspired. Pat actively mentored young staff in both sustainability principles and the required methods of implementation. Many of these staff have become Team Leaders, SSPP Managers, Group Leaders and Program Managers at the Laboratory and at other organizations, bringing with them the spirit of sustainability that Gallagher inspired.