WRPS to host Vapors Technology Exchange

RICHLAND, Wash. — Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is planning a Vapors Management Technology Exchange for Feb. 24-25, 2015, to give technology providers, including businesses, universities and national laboratories, the opportunity to learn more about Hanford’s tank farm vapor conditions and offer potential improvements and solutions.

The technology exchange will help identify current and potential technologies and methods of chemical-vapor detection, monitoring, and abatement to improve the tank farm vapor management system.

Attendance at the technology exchange will be by invitation only. Interested parties are asked to respond to an expression of interest posted no later than 5 p.m., Feb. 9, 2015.

WRPS established an independent Tank Vapor Assessment Team (TVAT), led by the Savannah River National Laboratory to examine hazardous chemical vapors management, related worker-protection measures, and recommend actions to eliminate or mitigate vapor exposures.  WRPS has embarked upon a series of actions in response to the TVAT recommendations, including technology evaluation and deployment.

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Engineers recognized with national award

Engineers_SEK_KPL_PhotoEngineers Steve Kelly and Pat Lee have been recognized by the American Statistical Association (ASA) with the 2014 Statistics in Chemistry Award. The award recognizes outstanding collaborative endeavors between statisticians and chemists for their innovative use of statistics to solve a problem in chemistry and the impact of the solution.
Kelly and Lee co-authored a paper with colleagues from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that summarized small-scale tank mixing and waste transfer test results. Their work involved studying the process for mixing and transferring radioactive waste from storage tanks to the Waste Treatment Plant, where it will be converted to a safer, stable glass waste form. The work consisted of developing models based on small-scale test data to enable predicting mixing and transfer performance at full scale.

“Working with PNNL’s Applied Statistics and Computational Modeling group was an excellent experience,” Kelly said. “They helped us understand what is important for model optimization and how to identify parameters not significantly adding to the correlation.”

“This work was a collaborative effort between disciplines from beginning to end,” Lee said. “We worked closely with statisticians to design a set of experiments that could be modeled and included the variables we considered important to scaling the mixing and transfer process.”

Regarding the paper and corresponding research, the ASA wrote, “The process scale-up problem addressed in their work is one that is common, yet remains challenging for statisticians, engineers and scientists. In the statistical literature, little-to-no published work exists on this important topic. Their unique scale-up modeling and overall approach is important with many potential applications in a wide array of industries and technical disciplines. By combining the principles of statistics and engineering, the honorees created improved models and gained a better understanding of the system.”

WRPS exceeds $1 billion milestone in subcontracting awards

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Recipients of the WRPS-sponsored 2014 Small Business Incentive grants were recognized recently at a Tri-City Regional Chamber community meeting.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) recently surpassed the $1 billion mark in total subcontract awards issued since taking over the contract in October 2008, with more than 60 percent going to small businesses. WRPS is the Tank Operations Contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of River Protection at Hanford, and is responsible for safely managing 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste stored in 177 underground tanks.

Through September 2014, WRPS awarded a total of $1.02 billion in subcontracts. More than $622 million was given to small businesses, which exceeds WRPS’ small business spending goal by more than $30 million.

“This milestone demonstrates our willingness and commitment to promote small business,” said WRPS Small Business Program Manager Mari Roden. “WRPS feels strongly about working with our current small business partners and setting aside funds to reach out to new small businesses to further promote growth and development in the federal marketplace.”

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, WRPS spent a total of $165 million in subcontracts, with 67.5 percent given to small businesses. WRPS awarded $78 million to local small businesses in FY 2014.

Subcontracting awards are just one of the many ways WRPS works to promote its small business partners. The company continuously supports area chambers of commerce and procurement technical assistance centers as a way to reach out and promote small business subcontracting in the area and encourage growth of local and regional small businesses.

WRPS sponsors an annual networking event, the Bridging Partnerships Small Business Symposium, which helps local companies learn more about government contracting at Hanford. WRPS also provides funding to support the Tri-City Area Chamber of Commerce’s small business grant program, which offers financial assistance to companies who apply and qualify for the award. WRPS also participates in the DOE Mentor-Protégé program by partnering with local small businesses to create long-lasting relationships, share best practices and lessons learned, and enhance the protégés’ ability to successfully compete for federal contracts.

SRNL completes assessment of WRPS IH program

TVATRICHLAND, Wash.—The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) Tank Vapor Assessment Team (TVAT) has released its final report on the Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) industrial hygiene program. Worker safety is a core value of WRPS, and the company initiated the TVAT review as part of its commitment to eliminate or further reduce worker exposure to chemical vapors.

WRPS has made substantial improvements in the Hanford tank farms’ chemical vapor management program since being selected to operate the tank farms in 2008 and believes the TVAT recommendations will help it move to an even greater level of worker protection.

Based on a review of an earlier draft report, implementation of some recommendations has already begun or been completed, including the required use of minimum half-face respirators in single-shell tank farms, starting in September, and the hiring of additional industrial hygiene staff.

The report recognizes WRPS’ overall industrial hygiene approach is based on accepted industry health and safety practices which focus on protecting against the long-term health effects that can result from cumulative or ongoing exposures. But, the report cites significant challenges in dealing with short, intermittent, higher-concentration exposures the team believes are the likely cause of worker symptoms.

The report’s recommendations will serve as a road map to help WRPS make necessary enhancements in a number of areas.  The development of novel strategies or new technologies may be necessary to deal with the unique nature of Hanford tank waste.

In the weeks ahead, WRPS will complete a plan for implementing the TVAT recommendations and integrating those actions with the ongoing activities of its internal Chemical Vapor Solutions Team.

Full implementation will be a multi-year effort and may require additional research and development. WRPS is committed to using the TVAT’s efforts to enhance its current program and provide an increased level of protection for its workers.

SRNL released the following statement regarding the report: http://srnl.doe.gov/news/releases/nr14_srnl-advisory-hanford-vapors-report.pdf

The full report is available here: Hanford_Tank_Vapor_Assessment_Report

WRPS expands recruiting network via social media

For the first time WRPS is branching out via social media, establishing a new LinkedIn page to expand recruiting efforts by broadening its outreach online.

WRPS Human Resources began using the page earlier this month during some of its recruiting trips to regional colleges and universities.

“We want to expand our recruiting footprint,” said WRPS Talent Development Coordinator Britt Easter. “As we were looking for more creative ways to engage individuals we normally wouldn’t reach using more traditional venues, LinkedIn seemed an obvious choice because it provides multiple advantages using a single resource. ”

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service launched more than a decade ago. According to Wikipedia, LinkedIn boasts more than 300 million members in more than 200 countries and territories. It’s estimated that nearly 30 percent of people living in the United States—roughly 93 million—have a LinkedIn account. Forbes magazine called it “the most advantageous social networking tool available to job seekers and business professionals today.”

“We have an amazing story to tell. This avenue allows us to showcase our work to prospective talent not just locally but on a national stage. We certainly look forward to the positive impact this tool can have on our company,” Easter said.


WRPS celebrates VPP Star

Two safety meetings held in June recognized WRPS employees for their efforts in achieving VPP Star status. The accomplishment not only applied to the tank farms contract, it makes Hanford a certified VPP Star site as well.

WRPS helps fund new Delta High

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Delta High School was held June 25. Last year, WRPS donated $150,000 to help build the facility, which emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—or STEM—subjects.


Savannah River National Laboratory begins independent review of tank farm vapors

New hires train to become certified Health Physics Technicians, who help keep coworkers safe from radiological contamination. Recovery Act funding at Hanford's tank farms helped create nearly 600 jobs at the peak of employment in autumn 2010.

New hires train to become certified Health Physics Technicians, who help keep coworkers safe from radiological contamination. 

The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) announced today its team of recognized national experts that will perform an independent review of WRPS’ chemical vapors program. SRNL has put together a team from academia, industry and government agencies to review and help improve WRPS’ industrial hygiene program. WRPS Health Physics Technician Rebecca Holland, a member of HAMTC, is also on the expert panel. The SRNL news release, accessible through the link provided, gives details on the team and its charter.

Washington River Protection Solutions achieves VPP Star safety status


RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recognized Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), Hanford’s Tank Operations Contractor, for its outstanding safety program by awarding WRPS Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star status.

The VPP recognizes excellence in occupational safety and health protection for contractors at DOE sites. WRPS achieved Star status, the highest level of certification, based on the results of a DOE assessment conducted earlier this year.

“This well-deserved honor belongs to all WRPS employees, whose efforts make the tank farms a safe place to work,” said Dave Olson, WRPS President and Project Manager. “Our Employee Accident Prevention Councils, the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council (HAMTC) safety representatives, and our safety and health staff work cooperatively to address workforce issues and encourage continuous improvement.”

WRPS has more than 1,600 employees at Hanford. The company is responsible for safely managing 56 million gallons of high-level radioactive and chemical waste stored in 177 underground tanks. The waste is the legacy of Cold War plutonium production.

The VPP was established in 1994 and is identical to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration Voluntary Protection Program, except that participation is open to contractors employed at DOE-owned facilities.