Washington River Protection Solutions President to Retire; Replacement Named

Mark LindholmRichland, WA – Mark Lindholm has been named acting President and Project Manager for Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), where he will lead the remediation of radioactive and hazardous waste tanks at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, effective Oct. 1.

Lindholm replaces Dave Olson, who is retiring from WRPS after more than 30 years of service to AECOM, WRPS’ majority owner, and its predecessor companies.
Lindholm has been serving as WRPS Chief Operating Officer since January 2015, concentrating on production operations, waste retrievals, small projects execution and capital project execution, including the associated engineering functions.  He has more than 30 years of experience in government nuclear facilities operations.

Before joining WRPS in January, Lindholm was the manager of commissioning, readiness and operations at Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant, leading a team of nearly 300 AECOM employees. He also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Idaho Cleanup Project and previously held a senior role at WRPS as the manager of Single-Shell Tank Retrieval and Closure from 2008 to 2010.

In addition to his experience at the Department of Energy’s Idaho and Hanford cleanup sites, he held a number of management positions at the Savannah River Site from 1989 to 2007.

Lindholm holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental and hazardous material management from the University of Maryland.

Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for life a resounding success

IMG_3739WRPS team members helped raise a whopping $27,573 in support of fighting cystic fibrosis (CF), an inherited disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.

The team came together August 22 to ride in the CF Cycle for Life, a one-day bicycle event benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. WRPS is the top fundraising team locally, ranks second in the Pacific Northwest and fourth nationally.

Cyclists could ride routes of various lengths, and rest stops placed along the way were manned by individuals and families affected by CF.

Don Slaugh, WRPS ESH&Q, has a two-year-old grandson diagnosed with CF. He and his family were stationed at the booth in Benton City, which gave them the opportunity to interact with those participating in the ride.

“After the diagnosis, it’s just such a steep learning curve to figure out what CF is all about,” said Slaugh, whose wife takes care of their grandchild during the day while his mother works. “The organizers of this ride have done a tremendous job getting the community involved, and WRPS has lent an amazing amount of support. That goes a long way to raise awareness for this debilitating disease.”

Special thanks to Susan Omberg Carro and Tom Ardamica, who served as co-captains of the WRPS team.

WRPS volunteers bring excitement to STEM summer school

STEM summer school 2015 (4)Fewer places might be more desolate than an elementary school classroom in summertime.

Unless, that is, you’re one of 400 Pasco STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) students who signed up for a special summer school session this year. The two-week session brought learning to life by incorporating guest speakers, classroom experiments and engineering activities that kept them plenty busy.

WRPS employees infused a little excitement into the final day of class by visiting with the students and viewing the presentations of their final projects.

Students were allowed two choices: build a terrarium to house Venus flytrap plants or create a robot to pollinate rosy periwinkle flowers.

“Students worked in groups of three and told us how they used the engineering design process to come up with their product,” said Hector Ubinas, WRPS Production Control engineer. “I couldn’t believe how creative they got with some of these designs. It was really impressive.”

Each of the options had a scenario driving the need for the project. For the Venus flytrap plants, a resort was being overwhelmed by the local mosquito population and was in need of a terrarium to grow the flytrap plants that would help reduce the mosquito population.

The robotic pollinator was required for a medical research lab developing life-saving medicine from rosy periwinkle flowers. The lab was looking for a method to pollinate the flowers to continue growing them without the use of bees.

“Students were given a backstory about a need, then they used the engineering process to provide a solution,” said Jen Uchida, WRPS Instrument & Control Engineering. “At the end of the day, that’s what engineering is all about.”

Other WRPS participants included Bryan Blair, Shawn Campbell, Lucas Cash, Chris Ensign, Kody Fullerton, Mark Haag, Matt Huntington, Mike Kingen, Jeff McClellan, Jerad Ontko, Andrew Prince, Dustin Rorden, Colleen Smalley, Andy Waterworth and Jessica Witherspoon.

WRPS receives 2 awards at 2015 VPPPA national conference

DSC_1104WRPS received two safety awards last week at the Voluntary Protection Program Participants’ Association (VPPPA) national conference in Grapevine, Texas.

The first was the VPP Innovation Award, which WRPS received for developing a tool that reduced worker exposure during surveys of radioactive equipment used to retrieve tank waste.

The award recognizes an individual, company or worksite that has developed and implemented an innovation, encouraged others to try new approaches and emphasized the value of creativity and flexibility in the resolution of worker safety and health problems.  VPPPA does not present the award each year – only when the innovation impacts the site, community and nation.

“The VPP Innovation Award represents the strong commitment our employees demonstrate each and every day while working in highly hazardous conditions and also their continuous drive to make the tank farms a safe place to work,” said Ed Adams, WRPS Radiological Controls manager.

The new tool was developed and constructed by a team of workers from WRPS’ radiological control, waste management and construction organizations.  The team consisted of Pete Carlson, Mike Copeland, Ben Davis, Karen Engebretson, William Hughes, Marco Nicacio, Ches Phillips and Dennis Riste.

The innovative tool features lightweight piping with nine survey points built in to properly position electronic dosimeters so that dose rates can be remotely recorded. The tool is then moved down the length of the long-length equipment until the survey is completed.

“In addition to minimizing exposure to workers, it has been estimated that the tool also cuts the amount of time it takes to survey a large piece of equipment by 50 percent,” said Owen Berglund, a project manager for the Radiological Controls organization.  “This time reduction could result in a dose savings to the workers of over 1.5 rem annually and significantly reduce employees’ exposure to radiological hazards during this evolution.”

The second award WRPS received was the VPP Star of Excellence, awarded to VPP Star Sites that have injury/illness rates greater than 75 percent below the national average, demonstrate outstanding mentoring and innovation, and support the continuous improvement of the DOE VPP system.

This was the first year that WRPS was eligible for the Star of Excellence since achieving DOE VPP Star status in 2014.  It is the highest honor bestowed by the DOE VPP for a Star site.

Davis, Engbretson, Steve Ellingson, Brian Ivey, Kliss McNeel, Chris Thursby and Stacy Thursby attended the annual conference on behalf of WRPS.

PHOENIX launches Tank Farm Application

Whether you’re a worker, stakeholder or just somebody who wants to learn more about Hanford’s tank farms, there’s a new informational tool for you.  And it’s right at your fingertips.

The PHOENIX Tank Farms application is a web-based tool for accessing current and historical data associated with Hanford’s tank waste.

PHOENIX stands for PNNL-Hanford Online Environmental Information Exchange.  The tank farms application is a combined effort between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

The Hanford Site has a massive amount of data.  PHOENIX, which does not require any specific software, streamlines the information gathering process by tapping into multiple databases in an intuitive user-friendly manner.

“The PHOENIX Tank Farms application is an excellent resource that allows both WRPS employees and the public to easily obtain information regarding the tank farms,” said Jason Gunter, WRPS Tank and Pipeline Integrity organization. “Having this information available in a simple and easy-to-use tool ensures that both those who use it as a supplementary tool for their job or who just have general curiosity can quickly find the information they seek.”

Tank Farms is the third and latest PHOENIX application with more in development.  Previously, PNNL and DOE Richland Operations Office worked together on two groundwater applications.  All PHOENIX applications promote transparency and clarity in the Hanford cleanup mission.

The tank farms application was rolled out in April at the Hanford Advisory Board’s (HAB) Tank Waste Committee meeting, and ORP gave a demonstration of the application at a full board meeting in June.

“Developing PHOENIX using modern web technologies not only improves access to the data by requiring only an up-to-date web browser, but also allows us to quickly visualize tank data in new ways and integrate it with other relevant data sets,” said DJ Watson, PNNL Risk and Decision Sciences organization.

Washington River Protection Solutions receives 2 national safety awards

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) received two safety awards at the annual Voluntary Protection Program Participants’ Association (VPPPA) national conference this week in Grapevine, Texas.