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.

WRPS honored for lifesaving innovation

WRPS was recognized this week for helping develop a face shield that protects a worker wearing full-face respiratory equipment from an arc flash, a type of electrical explosion or discharge where temperatures can reach 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Read about it here.

WRPS receives Corporate Community Impact award

WRPS Corporate Community Impact AwardWashington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) representatives Melissa Garrard (with photo) and Jerry Holloway (third from left) accept the Corporate Community Impact award from two Tri-City Regional Chamber representatives at the Chamber’s annual meeting in late March. The award goes to the company providing the most financial support to the Chamber during the past year. WRPS was cited for its establishment and ongoing support of three programs that assist regional businesses. The Small Business Incentive Program awards $30,000 annually to businesses for training, equipment or website development; an annual Women in Business Conference provides a day of professional development activities, and the Meet the Buyer program offers quarterly sessions where local business officials can learn of potential sales opportunities from procurement officials from major government and private companies. More than 550 attended the event.

WRPS sponsors Women in Business Conference

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AECOM executive Terri Marts (holding microphone) speaks on “Navigating Change and Reinventing Yourself” as part of a leadership panel at the 2016 Women in Business Conference. More than 300 attended the day-long event.

WRPS scientist promotes STEM learning

WRPS scientist promotes STEM learningDr. Stephanie Doll, WRPS Process Chemistry at the 222-S Laboratory, represented the company recently at the annual STEM Explorers Conference, which immerses students in the world of science, technology, engineering and math. Doll was one of about 20 professionals who used the forum to share work experiences and conduct interactive workshops.

Doll provided students the “full Hanford scientist experience,” teaching them about appropriate personal protective equipment, radiation detection and radioactive material handling. Students dressed out in coveralls, shoe covers and gloves; wore a “security” badge, chest dosimeter and finger ring dosimeters; manipulated blocks inside of a glove bag; engineered methods to transport pretend-radioactive ping-pong balls; and used Geiger counters to detect everyday radioactive items like Fiestaware, Vaseline glass and lantern mantles.

“Most K-12 schools don’t have the resources available to teach students about nuclear science. This leads to students pursuing other careers and feeling uneasy around the word ‘nuclear,’” Doll said. “As a radiochemist, I feel a certain responsibility and privilege to educate our future leaders, visionaries and scholars in a positive and engaging environment. Being able to present at the STEM Explorers Conference allowed me to engage the students with hands-on activities.”

More than 300 middle school students from Pasco, Sunnyside and Granger participated in the event at Pasco’s Columbia Basin College.

WRPS volunteers come up big for local families

DSC_1650The holidays aren’t always filled with laughter and smiles, especially when families are struggling to make ends meet.

WRPS Project Integration team members came together to make the season a little brighter for four local families by collecting gifts and other items.

In conjunction with the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program, WRPS employees filled seven shopping carts with presents and purchased four $100 Winco gift cards to provide holiday meals. Four families—27 individuals—will benefit from the goodwill and generosity of this volunteer effort.

“Many individuals in my life have had to rely on organizations like the Salvation Army in time of need, and it is wonderful to see people pass it forward,” said WRPS Single-Shell Tank Retrieval Project Controls Manager Nathan Morgan. “I applaud your selfless efforts and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Gifts were collected in just two short weeks and were given to the families in time for Christmas.

WRPS donation, volunteers support Elks’ generosity

WRPS donation supports ElksIt’s almost uncanny how quickly a group of volunteers converges on the Kennewick Elks Lodge, and—in a flurry of paper and strings—wraps a collection of gifts intended for unexpecting recipients. But, every year—like clockwork—it happens.

“It goes pretty fast,” said WRPS Contractor Assurance Manager Mike Peloquin. “Get that many people in a room and it’s a flurry of activity and ugly Christmas sweaters.”

Each year, the Tri-Cities Elks Lodge #2755 adopts local families in need and provides a little holiday cheer in the form of gifts, food and other items. WRPS contributes a modest amount to the effort to help offset costs. Additionally, a local private company, AEM Consulting, joins the Elks about a week before Christmas to wrap and label each gift. The annual event has become known as the “Snack and Wrap.”

“The donations of corporate sponsors like WRPS and AEM magnify the ability of volunteers to perform the tasks necessary to improve our community and our ability to help one another,” Peloquin said. “This program has brought together several organizations from across the Tri-City area, which would not have been possible without their sponsorship.”

“Who can resist wrapping gifts for children and their families?” said Dennis Washenfelder, AEM Senior Chemical Engineer Task for WRPS.

It’s a true community effort. The Elks receive toys from the annual toy drive, sponsored by Eagle 106.5 FM and Ranch and Home. In return, the Elks help assemble bikes and toys, and help sort and stage the gifts for distribution to other community organizations.

In any given year, up to a dozen families benefit from the gifts of food, kitchen supplies, health care products, laundry soap, towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, linens and bedding. Children receive clothes, coats, hats, socks, art kits and toys.

“This annual event is just one of the many community outreach programs supported by the Elks,” said Kirk Peterson, WRPS Performance Assurance. “Watching my 11-year-old daughter’s energy in helping others and seeing the resulting smiles on the families’ faces as we delivered the baskets was priceless.”

“My daughter and I attend the Snack and Wrap at the Elks every year,” said Jeanne Bernards, AEM Principal Engineer on System Planning and Modeling Support Task for WRPS. “It’s a great way to give to the community, and we really enjoy spending the time with my colleagues and their families. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for my daughter to experience how giving in a small way can make a difference for local children and families in need.”

WRPS employees serving as Elks’ members or officers include WRPS One System ESH&Q Manager Jack Donnelly, Chairman of the Board, Peloquin, Peterson and Jerry Heaney, WRPS One System Quality Assurance.

“This is my favorite event of the year,” Donnelly said. “Delivering the baskets of gifts, food and essential needs personally—and seeing how it makes a difference—is a treasure. Working with so many people to make this happen is powerful, and it is a primary reason I am an Elk member. I appreciate WRPS and AEM for supporting this cause.”

The Elks Lodge is a fraternal order and social club founded in 1868. It is one of the leading fraternal orders in the U.S., claiming nearly one million members.

“My wife and I take great pleasure raising money throughout the year to support the Elks’ family Christmas basket event,” Heaney said. “The looks on the faces of those receiving the gifts and care packages is precious.”

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.

Columbia Basin Dive Rescue dives for donation

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WRPS employees have clocked another 90 consecutive days without a lost-work day and another local organization has benefited.

Columbia Basin Dive Rescue (CBDR) was nominated by Bethany Thomas of the North Employee Accident Prevention Council (NEAPC) to receive the Safety Outreach Award. Each council nominates and votes on a finalist and Mark Lindholm, President and Project Manager, chooses the winner.

CBDR is a local non-profit organization that started in 1972 and serves a 4,000-square-mile area. Not only helping with the emergency situations reported in the local media, CBDR also assists with evidence recoveries, ground searches and watercraft recoveries.

CBDR currently has 12 qualified members and three in training. Being on staff at CBDR is a big commitment. Training takes a year, and after acceptance, training never stops. A weekly commitment of two to six hours is required. Members are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to respond to emergencies. Most on staff have a background in a life-saving capacities, such as military training or firefighting. However, there are volunteer opportunities that don’t require the time commitment or being on call, such as working in the office or providing support.

Mike McDowell, Process Systems and Engineering Support, accepted the check on behalf of CBDR. McDowell is the public information officer as well as ground support. WRPS allows McDowell the flexibility to respond to emergency calls during work hours. “We appreciate WRPS support of our mission at CBDR to help protect our community and educate the public on water safety. If an emergency arises we are there with top-of-the-line rescue equipment,” said McDowell.

Want to influence who the next donation goes to? Get involved with your EAPC and nominate an organization!