WSUTC hosts WRPS Day

WRPS Day 2015Where does the money go? Three Washington State University Tri-Cities (WSUTC) students answered this question recently at WRPS-WSUTC Day on the Richland campus.

The day consisted of a presentation by WSUTC students benefiting from WRPS grants and a panel discussion about technology, the Hanford Site and how it applies from college to work field. WRPS’ Doug Greenwell, Mike Latteri, Mark Tavelli, and Rob Gregory participated in the discussion.

The WSUTC students are using WRPS grants for projects such as developing a 3D printed prosthetic arm, using bacteria to treat hydrothermal liquefaction, and studying the implications of thyroid levels on skull development of the Zebra fish which has human implications.

WRPS donates $127,000 to support local STEM education efforts


RICHLAND, Wash. – Tri-City area students, from grade school through college, will benefit from $127,000 in contributions announced today by Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), the Hanford tank operations contractor.

The money will be used to strengthen and expand K-12, college and community science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related programs.




The Mid-Columbia STEM Education Network (MCSEN) will receive $50,000:

  • $30,000 to support events that celebrate our region as a national leader in STEM literacy and to recruit volunteers to conduct STEM programs that link students with mentors and role models.  These programs include: “STEM Like Me!” a program that encourages students to consider STEM careers. Through personal interactions with STEM professionals, middle school students are inspired to envision themselves in the shoes of a STEM professional. 
  • $20,000 for STEM-related education activities at the REACH and the local Boys & Girls Club.  Through the MCSEN, these funds will provide additional staff and equipment to support currently underrepresented populations including minorities and women.

WSU Tri-Cities will receive $50,000 in STEM scholarships and STEM faculty support.

Columbia Basin College will receive $27,000 to complete the purchase of new equipment for its Nuclear Technology Program and provide STEM-related scholarships.

“WRPS recognizes the need for more students to become interested in STEM careers.  There’s an increasing demand for workers in science and technology fields, in the Tri-Cities, in Washington and our country.  If we’re to compete globally, we need more STEM-educated students,” said James Taylor, an AECOM senior executive who made the announcement on behalf of WRPS.  AECOM is the majority owner of WRPS with Energy Solutions and AREVA being the other team members.

“WRPS is excited about helping the Mid-Columbia STEM network extend its impact in this region, especially in serving underrepresented students.  It’s a great addition to WRPS’ ongoing support of STEM-related activities at WSU Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College,” Taylor said.

“We are grateful for WRPS’ generous gift and their vision in helping to position the Mid-Columbia as a national leader in STEM literacy.  The Tri-Cities was named one of the top regions in the nation for STEM jobs but, unfortunately, too few of our students see STEM’s power or possibilities. WRPS is having a real impact by providing not only these much needed funds, but also through the exceptional WRPS employees who generously donate their time to help young people experience STEM in action,” reports Deb Bowen, Executive Director of the Washington State STEM Education Foundation and the Mid-Columbia STEM Network.

WRPS, owned by AECOM and EnergySolutions, with integrated subcontractor AREVA, is a prime contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection and is responsible for managing and reducing the risk posed by the waste stored in Hanford’s underground tanks.

Washington State STEM Education Foundation and Mid-Columbia STEM Network

The Washington State STEM Education Foundation incorporated in 2009 with a vision of becoming a national model for generating passionate support for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in Public Education: Every Student, Every Day. The non-profit’s first project was to support the launch of Delta High School, and now has expanded the scope of work to enhance projects that create a substantial and sustainable impact on the quality of STEM education across the Mid-Columbia.

The Mid-Columbia STEM Network was launched in 2014.  The Network is one of a number of STEM Networks being developed across our state under the leadership of Washington STEM.  STEM networks comprise education, business and community leaders who are committed to sharing promising practices and strengthening the STEM pipeline.  For more information, including links to outstanding volunteer opportunities in our region visit:

WRPS recognized for hiring, promoting workers with disabilities

Disabilities award 2RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is one of eight local companies recognized by the state’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) for recruiting, hiring and promoting individuals with disabilities.

WRPS received an outreach award at the “Building Bridges and Breaking Down Barriers” breakfast ceremony Tuesday at the TRAC Center in Pasco. The event helps increase awareness about diversity and disability in the workplace while bringing together service providers, employers and individuals with disabilities.

“We’re very proud of this award,” said Mark Lindholm, WRPS president and project manager. “We’ve put together a highly skilled, safety-conscious workforce at WRPS by focusing on abilities rather than disabilities.”

WRPS, Hanford’s tank farms contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection, has a workforce of more than 2,000 employees. The company has hired 35 individuals with disabilities and has a total of 123 employees who have self-identified their disability status.

WRPS regularly posts job openings with organizations such as Deaf to Work, Enable America, Think Beyond the Label and the United Spinal Association, as well as with colleges specific to students with disabilities. In addition, WRPS works with representatives from the DVR to encourage individuals with disabilities to apply for positions and also works with organizations such as Goodwill Industries and Service Alternatives to promote employees with disabilities.

The “Building Bridges and Breaking Down Barriers” event included educational sessions on hiring, retention and advancement of individuals with disabilities, and career fairs for individuals with disabilities and high school seniors transferring into the workforce.

WRPS, owned by AECOM and EnergySolutions, with integrated subcontractor AREVA, is responsible for managing and reducing the risk posed by the waste stored in Hanford’s 177 underground tanks.

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.

Lindholm named President and Project Manager for Washington River Protection Solutions

Mark Lindholm

Lindholm named President and Project Manager for Washington River Protection Solutions

Richland, WA – Mark Lindholm has been named President and Project Manager for Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), after serving as acting president of the company since Oct. 1, 2015. Lindholm replaced Dave Olson, who retired from WRPS on Sept. 30, 2015.

Lindholm will lead the remediation of radioactive and hazardous waste tanks at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. He had been serving as WRPS Chief Operating Officer since January 2015 and has more than 30 years of experience in government nuclear facilities operations, including management positions at Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant, the Idaho Cleanup Project, and the Savannah River Site. He previously held a senior role at WRPS as the manager of Single-Shell Tank Retrieval and Closure from 2008 to 2010.

WRPS, owned by AECOM and EnergySolutions, with integrated subcontractor AREVA, is a prime contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection and is responsible for managing and reducing the risk posed by the waste stored in Hanford’s underground tanks.

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.