An audit dated April 25 found inadequate weld maps, testing records and other quality control measures at some hard-to-reach places within the Hanford vitrification plant being built by contractor Bechtel.
The audit by the Department of Energy’s inspector general stems from allegations made two years ago regarding “black cells” and
other parts of the plant where radiation and a dearth of access will
make inservice inspections impossible during the its operational life
stabilizing Cold-War-era liquid waste. The components in question,
installed prior to mid-2005, faced strict testing and record-keeping
requirements under the The American Society of Mechanical Engineer's
Quality Assurance Program for Nuclear Facilities and Bechtel’s contract
to the audit, the contractor did not keep complete records of weld
maps, non-destructive testing or material tests. Likewise, auditors said
they could not find required details on welding proceedures or welder
qualifications for some areas. The audit also indicated ultrasonic
inspection was performed to determine weld integrity, rather than
radiography as required in the contract.
more, Bechtel was awarded a $30 million incentive payment for the
delivery of vessles to the plant. DOE asked for half of that back once
it learned some vessels were nonconforming, according to the audit, but
neither DOE nor Bechtel could provide evidence that the $15 million was
agency confirmed some of the issues after they were reported in 2010
and required the contractor to correct them. In its response to
auditors, the agency’s Office of Environmental management largely
concurred with the audit’s recommendations.
spokesman for Bechtel pointed out that the audit noted improvements
made in recent years and that the document’s concerns involved 10 of
about 2,000 welds on the equipment in question.
Download the DOE inspector general’s report.