SRNL completes assessment of WRPS IH program

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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:

The full report is available here: Hanford_Tank_Vapor_Assessment_Report