Hanford Site Contractors Receive Award for Procurement of Sustainable Electronics

RICHLAND, Wash. – Three Hanford Site contractors – Mission Support Alliance (MSA), CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CH2M) and Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) – were recently recognized as leaders in the procurement and use of sustainable information technology products by the Green Electronics Council and managers of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) label. The council recognizes companies for their efforts to reduce costs while also taking steps to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gases. Read more…

Office of River Protection highlight safety, progress at Waste Management Conference

PHOENIX – The Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection (ORP) and its contractors will present recent accomplishments and progress at the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) and the Hanford Tank Farms, on March 7 at the 2017 Waste Management Symposium… read more

Washington River Protection Solutions wins national safety award

Campbell Institute Award

Mark Lindholm (third from left), WRPS President and Project Manager, receives the 2017 Campbell Innovation Challenge award Tuesday at the Campbell Symposium in New Orleans.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) received the 2017 Campbell Innovation Challenge award Tuesday for developing a physiological monitoring program that has eliminated heat stress cases the past two years at the Hanford tank farms.

WRPS, an AECOM-led company, is the Tank Operations Contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. The company is responsible for managing 56 million gallons of highly radioactive and chemical waste stored in 177 underground tanks.

The Innovation Challenge, which is awarded by the Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council, recognizes organizations for their achievement in the planning or implementation of an innovative program addressing critical environmental, health and safety topics in a way that demonstrates creative thinking, strategic implementation and significant impact.

“WRPS and AECOM are honored to be recognized by Campbell Institute,” said Mark Lindholm, WRPS president and project manager. “This award demonstrates not only the creativity and forward thinking of our employees, but also their steadfast commitment to protecting their co-workers, the public and the environment.”

Hanford is located in a hot desert environment. Many workers wear extensive personal protective equipment that often includes multiple layers of impermeable clothing tape-sealed to two pairs of gloves, booties, hoods and necessary respiratory protection. While this equipment protects the worker from chemical and radiological hazards, it creates other physical threats, including the increased potential of heat stress.

Physiological monitoring is a basic way to measure the level of an individual’s heat strain in response to heat-stress conditions. The new physiological program involves monitoring employees’ heart rates using a novel chest-mounted heart rate monitor that allows for remote, real-time assessment of heat strain and core body temperature using a tympanic membrane thermometer for periodic assessment of heat strain.

In the past, WRPS and other Hanford contractors conducted assessments for heat stress using Wet Bulb Globe Temperature measurement and relied on self-reporting of symptoms. When workers had symptoms, they exited the work location, removed multiple layers of PPE and had their heart pulse rate measured.
“The innovative program removes employees from harmful heat-related tasks before they develop heat stress symptoms,” Lindholm said.

WRPS performed physiological monitoring on a limited basis in 2014, then conducted full campaigns in 2015 – which was one of the hottest summers ever on the Hanford Site with 28 days at or over 100 degrees – and again in 2016. In 2,290 sessions conducted in 2015 and 2,510 sessions in 2016, there were no heat stress-related disorders. The campaigns ran from May through September.

The project team that developed and implemented the innovation consisted of WRPS management, field work supervisors and industrial hygiene personnel. The team conducted significant testing of the heart pulse rate monitor and remote monitoring system. Ongoing, comprehensive campaigns educated and involved employees to develop associated protocols and procedures.

“The development and implementation of the program was realized because of employee engagement, teamwork and a strong commitment to safety,” Lindholm said. “Congratulations to the team for making the tank farms a safer place to work.”

Twitter: @WRPSTOC

Tank C-111 retrieved, leaving one remaining in C Farm

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection and its tank operations contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, have completed waste retrieval activities in tank C-111, marking the 15th of 16 single-shell tanks to be retrieved at C tank farm at the Hanford Site. Read more about it here.

Waste retrieval activities in tank C-102 completed

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection (ORP) and its tank operations contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, completed waste retrieval activities in tank C-102, marking the 14th single-shell tank retrieved at C tank farm at the Hanford Site.

Crews removed nearly 300,000 gallons of waste from the tank. Retrieval activities began in April 2014 using an enhanced-reach sluicer, a tool lowered into the underground tank that sprays liquid, mainly recycled waste, through a nozzle at the end of an extendable boom to break up hardened deposits of waste into a slurry. The resulting waste slurry is then pumped out of the top of the tank and sent through a series of pipes to a double-shell tank for storage.

“The completion of waste retrieval from another tank is a reflection of the dedicated workforce at the tank farms,” said Chris Kemp, deputy federal project director for Tank Farms Retrieval and Closure at ORP. “There was substantial effort from the workers to plan, prepare and retrieve this radioactive waste. All of this was done safely while work activities continue at other tanks in the farm.”

The farm’s 16 tanks were built during World War II in Hanford’s 200 East Area. Retrieval activities continue in the farm’s two remaining tanks with tank C-105 nearly 45 percent complete and C-111 about 15 percent retrieved.

ORP’s mission is to safeguard the nuclear waste stored in Hanford’s 177 underground tanks and to manage the waste safely and responsibly until it can be treated in the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant for final disposition.

Hanford exhauster repurposed to remove excess liquid from leaking tank

T-111 exhausterRICHLAND, Wash.—Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), the Hanford tank operations contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection, is using a portable exhauster to remove excess liquid from Tank T-111.

WRPS recently completed a 30-day test run of the exhauster, and initial results show liquid is being evaporated at a rate of about 25 to 30 gallons per day.

The exhauster has removed nearly 1,000 gallons of water from T-111 during the test run, and another 1,000 gallons have been removed through Sept. 28. In-tank images show visible changes in the waste surface and liquid-level data confirm the decrease.

“The exhauster is performing as we hoped it would,” said Mark Lindholm, WRPS president and project manager. “This is an important step in the right direction as we try to minimize liquid inside T-111.”

The volume of surface liquid in the tank is estimated to be between 2,500 and 4,000 gallons. The exhauster will also remove liquid in the top few inches of the sludge waste remaining in the tank.

The liquid in the tank is a combination of intrusion water and residual liquid remaining from interim tank stabilization in the mid-1990s.

Although exhausters have been used in the past to evaporate excess liquid from single-shell tanks, this is the first exhauster system WRPS has used for single-shell tank intrusion mitigation. This approach removes liquid from single-shell tanks that are known or suspected leakers.

T-111 is considered a leaking tank and contains about 436,000 gallons of sludge waste. The tank was first declared of questionable integrity in 1974 and most of the supernatant liquid was removed.

If deemed successful, a similar approach might be used in more than two dozen other single-shell tanks with visible liquid.

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.

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.

WRPS manager recognized for commitment to local education

Jerry Holloway Crystal Apple 2015 (1)

WRPS External Affairs Manager Jerry Holloway, 2015 Crystal Apple Special Achievement Award recipient

RICHLAND, Wash. — Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) External Affairs Manager Jerry Holloway earned a surprise honor at this year’s Crystal Apple award ceremony. Holloway, a former teacher, was given the Special Achievement Award for his support of community education efforts as a WRPS representative.

Ten area teachers were honored at the event, which took place at Columbia Basin College in front of a crowd of about 200. Teachers are selected for their contributions to their schools and the impact they’ve had on their students, both past and present.

WRPS supports a number of educational organizations throughout the region, including the Washington State STEM Education Foundation, WSU Foundation, Columbia Basin College Foundation, the Reach Museum, Junior Achievement and the Dream Builder’s Educational Foundation, which organizes the Crystal Apple awards.

“WRPS and its partners continue to stress the importance of education and have shown that support through personal involvement, corporate contributions and sharing of resources,” said WRPS President and Project Manager Dave Olson. “Trendsetters and longstanding supporters like Jerry model those characteristics of our company, and we are honored to have him on our team.”

WRPS releases plan to improve chemical vapors management

IP report photoRICHLAND, Wash. – Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), the Hanford tank operations contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection (DOE-ORP), today released a comprehensive implementation plan to address recent chemical vapor exposure concerns and further improve worker safety.

The plan was developed in response to recommendations by an expert panel in its Hanford Tank Vapor Assessment Report released in October 2014. The report outlines 10 overarching recommendations—encompassing 47 specific recommendations—to help reduce potential chemical vapor exposure to workers. The implementation plan released today specifically addresses these recommendations by identifying activities to be carried out over the coming months and years.

“We are continuously improving the worker protection program at Hanford’s tank farms,” said WRPS President and CEO Dave Olson. “Using the recommendations from the report, we developed specific actions we plan to implement in a sustained, multi-year, two-phased effort to further protect workers from potential exposure to chemical vapors. This plan represents a clear commitment to make that happen.”

Planned actions include improving sampling and detection technology, expanding sampling and characterization of the tank head space gases, increasing real-time monitoring, and evaluation and deployment of new abatement technologies.

A number of actions called for in the report and outlined in the plan have already been implemented—including use of personal respiratory protective gear—and several others are underway as part of the first phase. A WRPS project team will lead the implementation of actions outlined in the plan. Depending on information gathered and evaluated after the first phase, second-phase actions, costs, and schedules will be reviewed and, as needed, revised to reflect any new technical basis, as well as the ongoing incorporation of new technology and/or findings from research and development activities.

“We are confident that the steps outlined in this plan will improve the environment where we work and move us toward the next generation of tank farms where potential exposure to chemical vapors is further reduced,” Olson said.

WRPS recognizes that significantly reducing the potential for exposures to chemical vapors will take a sustained ongoing effort requiring action and continuous improvement beyond the recommendations addressed in the plan. In addition, a number of actions outside the scope of this plan will, over time, significantly reduce the need for worker entries into the tank farms.  Recent examples include installing wireless systems and completing a central control room to monitor the tanks around the clock. Other efforts will improve tank farm ventilation with additional exhausters and extension of exhaust stacks.

Department of Energy Office of River Protection statement

Implementation Plan for Hanford Tank Vapor Assessment Report Recommendations

WRPS IP transmittal letter to DOE-ORP