EM Update | Vol. 8, Issue 14 | July 28, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – EM headquarters is moving forward with a new organizational structure intended to further improve EM’s ability to effectively and efficiently conduct cleanup activities across the DOE complex.
The new structure, finalized in late July, is expected to address inefficiencies such as duplicative processes; disproportionate senior leadership reporting ratios; and a critical lack of clarity in roles, responsibilities and lines of authority.
“The recent reorganization of EM headquarters is intended to place field operations at the center of our organizational structure. This will help further improve our ability to aid the field, where our mission execution occurs,” EM Assistant Secretary Monica Regalbuto said.
The core of the reorganization is the consolidation of EM headquarters’ previous set of seven mission units and mission support offices into three new offices led by a new set of Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretaries.
“These new positions are critical to our plans for clarifying roles and responsibilities and establishing clear lines of authority and accountability,” EM Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Whitney said.
The new Field Operations Office, led by Stacy Charboneau, oversees the various EM field offices, as well as EM’s technology development efforts; analysis and engineering for major capital projects; and safety, security, and quality assurance programs. Charboneau last served as the Manager of the Richland Operations Office at Hanford, and has more than 20 years of experience managing projects involving nuclear operations, construction, environmental remediation and deactivation and demolition.
The new Regulatory and Policy Affairs Office, led by Frank Marcinowski, supports complex-wide infrastructure management and disposition issues; waste and materials management; and regulatory and stakeholder engagement. Marcinowski last held the positions of acting Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Waste Management in the previous EM headquarters organization. He has more than 27 years of experience ensuring the safe use, management and oversight of radioactive and nuclear materials, and has extensive expertise in environmental policy development and governmental affairs on a national, regional and local level.
The new Corporate Services Office, led by Candice Trummell, oversees acquisition and project management; budget and planning activities; workforce management, information technology and communications. Trummell last served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Deputy Secretary of Energy, and has nearly 15 years of experience managing critical business functions, communications, stakeholder engagement and Congressional relations.
Other significant changes at EM headquarters as a result of the reorganization include:
Employees in the Americium Recovery Facility remove piping.
RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers at the Hanford Site have reached a significant point in EM’s deactivation work to prepare the Plutonium Finishing Plant’s (PFP) major processing facilities for demolition.
“Level B” suits — the highest level of protection in the form of supplied air and pressurized protective suits — may no longer be required for the remaining deactivation work prior to demolition, as workers have completed the last activities scheduled to use the Level B suits at the plant.
Meanwhile, one of the site’s most hazardous rooms is now a step closer to demolition after workers finished cleaning a major portion of PFP's Americium Recovery Facility.
Used during the Cold War to recover americium, that facility was also called the “McCluskey Room” by workers for Harold McCluskey, who was injured in 1976 when a vessel inside a glove box burst and exposed him to radioactive material. McCluskey, who was 64 at the time, lived for 11 more years and died from unrelated causes. The accident left the room severely contaminated, with workers rarely entering it.
In 2014, EM Richland Operations Office (RL) contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CH2M) began final cleanup of the room after extensive preparations to ensure worker safety. Due to chemical and radiological hazards, workers took the initiative to research and train on the use of Level B suits.
Since 2014, workers using the suits have removed glove boxes and other processing infrastructure from the room and prepared large radiological and chemical tanks for removal during demolition.
Crews also used the same suits to cut up and remove PFP's two most contaminated glove boxes.
With those tasks complete, Level B protection is not anticipated to be needed for the rest of PFP’s demolition preparation work.
“The teams that used the Level B suits safely performed some of the most hazardous work not only at Hanford, but across the DOE complex,” said John Silko, RL’s 242-Z project lead. “Completing this work is a significant accomplishment as we continue to prepare the plant for demolition.”
A rendering of the PFP complex. Demolition will start with the 236-Z (Plutonium Reclamation Facility) in green, progress to 242-Z (Americium Recovery Facility) in red, to 234-5Z (main processing building) in blue, and finally to 291-Z, which is the fan house and ventilation stack, in yellow.
Application of fixative inside 242-Z is one of the last steps of demolition preparation for the facility.
What’s next for demolition?
As crews finish PFP demolition preparations, including removal of thousands of feet of contaminated ventilation duct and process piping, they continue to wear protective clothing and breathe filtered air. Removal of nearly all of these systems is necessary to protect workers, the public and the environment during demolition.
“The PFP team has done some amazing work in preparing the building for demolition, and they’ve done so safely,” said Tom Bratvold, CH2M vice president of the Plutonium Finishing Plant Closure Project. “As we focus on beginning demolition itself, our priority remains on working safely, keeping each other safe, so we can reflect with pride on the progress we’re making on this historic project.”
The PFP is the largest, most complex plutonium facility that has ever been deactivated or will be demolished across the EM complex. More than 20 years of demolition preparations are expected to conclude in coming months as demolition begins on the facility.
After coordinating with the Washington Department of Ecology and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, RL has announced a new milestone completion date of Sept. 30, 2017.
ERDF is known as the “hub” of Hanford cleanup.
RICHLAND, Wash. – July marked 20 successful years of environmental cleanup at one of EM’s largest disposal facilities — the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF) on the Hanford Site.
Since disposal operations began in 1996, 18 million tons of contaminated soil, debris and solid wastes from the site’s cleanup activities have been placed in the facility, which is specially engineered with a liner and leachate collection system. ERDF covers 107 acres, roughly the same area as 52 football fields. Its operations have supported the demolition of more than 800 facilities and remediation of 1,300 waste sites.
“ERDF has been and will continue to be a critical component of Hanford’s cleanup,” said Doug Shoop, manager of EM’s Richland Operations Office. “It’s a key part of EM’s overall cleanup strategy at the site in order to remove contaminated material and provide for its safe disposal as to prevent contaminants from reaching groundwater or the Columbia River.”
DOE’s Office of Enterprise Assessments recently recognized ERDF as a best practice onsite storage model, providing significant reductions in costs, schedule and transportation risks.
In addition to contaminated soil, debris, and solid waste, ERDF receives other hazardous materials, such as mercury, asbestos, beryllium, chromium and lead, which can be treated onsite before disposal. The majority of the waste disposed at ERDF was generated in Hanford’s River Corridor, a 220-square-mile stretch of land that borders the Columbia River. The corridor was home to Hanford’s nine plutonium production reactors, fuel development facilities and hundreds of support structures. Waste from other Hanford projects is also disposed at ERDF, which is currently managed by contractor Washington Closure Hanford (WCH).
“The ongoing success of ERDF operations can be attributed to the efforts of a workforce committed to working efficiently and working safely,” said WCH President Scott Sax. “Their safety performance is truly outstanding.” For example, ERDF truck drivers have logged nearly 30 million safe miles (approximately 1,200 times around the earth) since the facility began operations.
A permanent cap will be placed over the facility when the Hanford cleanup is completed, or ERDF is no longer needed.
Michael Casbon’s first job for Hanford’s ERDF was helping with its conceptual design. This month, he celebrated the 20th anniversary of the facility’s operation as its resident engineer.
RICHLAND, Wash. – Engineer Mike Casbon has watched the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF) grow up.
He helped create the low-level waste disposal facility for EM’s cleanup operations at the Hanford Site, joining the team working on its conceptual design in April 1993. He was the ERDF field engineer when the facility took its first steps, accepting its first truckload of waste on July 1, 1996. And, now, he is proudly celebrating its 20th anniversary, as it has grown to become one of EM’s largest disposal facilities, containing 18 million tons of contaminated soil, debris and solid wastes.
“I have been very blessed to be on this project,” said Casbon, now the resident engineer for EM Richland Operations Office contractor Washington Closure Hanford, which currently operates ERDF. “It’s been a fun and productive project.”
Working with his colleagues over the years has been a highlight for him. He brought his experience as a mining engineer, working in a highly regulated environment, to the conceptual design effort, but he admits he had much to learn about the challenges at Hanford.
“I knew nothing about working with radioactive materials. But I was part of a small and dedicated team that relied on each other. Other people on the team were experts on that. It was a great learning opportunity” he said.
Casbon cited the importance of open, candid and collaborative relationships with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ERDF’s regulator, and EM.
Casbon has enjoyed watching ERDF’s “maturation,” as he described it.
Within six months of operation, the facility was receiving 90 truckloads — at approximately 20 tons each — of waste material a day, meeting initial planning estimates. By 2005, the daily average was around 160 truckloads with single-day peaks of 200 truckloads.
Using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, a major expansion in 2009-2011 provided for new support buildings, equipment and additional labor, which increased the facility’s capacity and efficiency. ERDF hit a peak of more than 800 truckloads in a single day in 2012.
”Watching the operation safely and compliantly dispose of over 18,000 tons per day using three different truck fleets was like watching a three-ring circus. It was amazingly busy while being well under control,” Casbon said.
A section of the thermal catalytic oxidizer is lowered into the LAW facility.
RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers recently completed installing two of the last major pieces of equipment for the EM Office of River Protection’s Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Vitrification Facility at the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP).
Installation of the thermal catalytic oxidizer and ammonia dilution skid is a major element in completing construction of the LAW facility.
Critical to the safe treatment of waste, the 60-ton thermal catalytic oxidizer and 7-ton ammonia dilution skid are part of the system that will remove toxic contaminants from the low-activity radioactive waste glass melter exhaust.
Called the off-gas system, it is needed to ensure the exhaust meets regulatory requirements for release to the environment.
“The fabrication, delivery and installation of the significant pieces of off-gas equipment are the culmination of several years of hard work from a team of engineering, procurement and construction professionals and marks a significant milestone toward completing the LAW Facility,” said Scott Neubauer, Bechtel National, Inc.’s LAW area project manager. Bechtel is ORP’s contractor for WTP.
Ionex Research Corp. fabricated and tested the thermal catalytic oxidizer and ammonia dilution skid in its facilities in Lafayette, Colo.
The caustic scrubber, the final piece of the off-gas system and last major piece of equipment to be installed in the LAW, will be received later this year.
The off-gas system will convert volatile organic compounds to carbon dioxide and water vapor, convert nitric oxide to hydrogen and oxygen, remove acidic gases from the exhaust and cool the exhaust before releasing it through the stack.
When the LAW facility is operational, it will convert into glass more than half of the liquid, low-activity radioactive waste removed from Hanford’s 177 underground tanks. The treatment process is called vitrification and involves mixing the waste with glass-forming materials and heating them in a melter to 2,100 degrees F.
The molten glass will be poured into containers, where it will be allowed to cool, immobilizing the waste in solid glass, and sent to an engineered landfill for disposal.v
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Posted by Michele Kearney at 2:29 PM