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.