HANFORD A specialty publication of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
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2022 highlights include vit plant startup, groundwater progress, reactor cocooning and more
Battle over ‘disappointing’ Hanford budget heats up days after Biden signs 2022 plan
Tri-City leaders push grout as better, faster, cheaper approach to Hanford’s low-level tank waste
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On cover: Photos courtesy Bechtel National Inc.
On cover: Photos courtesy Bechtel National Inc.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
2022 highlights include vit plant startup, groundwater progress, reactor cocooning and more By Wendy Culverwell email@example.com
Everything about Hanford is huge. • Its area: 580 square miles. • Its waterfront: 40 miles of Columbia River. • Its workforce: 10,000, including 300 federal employees. • Its payroll: $500 million plus, or about a quarter of all local wages. • Its budget: $2.6 billion, with $560 million awarded to subcontractors in 2021. • Its history: Helping end World War II by fueling the U.S. nuclear arsenal. And its biggest challenge: 18 distinct waste storage units that include 177 underground tanks (149 single-shell, 28 double-shell) containing approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste from the production of weapons-grade plutonium. Of those, 60 tanks have collectively leaked up to a million gallons that in some areas have reached the groundwater. In 2022, Hanford still continues to draw attention. Geologists are fascinated by the millions of years of forces that have acted on it. Historians note its pivotal role in bringing about the end of World War II and its role in the Cold War. Scientists and engineers embrace the daunting challenge of cleaning up nucle-
Courtesy Bechtel National In 2021, the vit plant team completed all startup testing of components and systems associated with transforming low-activity tank waste into a safe form for disposal.
ar and toxic wastes. Politicians battle for enough money to pay for it all.
A return to area-wide operations Progress is incremental, but 2022 will see the site return to the kind of area-wide operations that haven’t been seen since plutonium production and processing ended. Instead of producing material for the nation’s weapons arsenal, multiple systems across the reservation will come online to
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carry out the task of stabilizing radioactive waste. “The site is fundamentally transforming into full operations mode. That hasn’t been the case since the ’80s, when the site last operated in a national security mission,” said Brian Vance, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy offices in Richland. Vance recently updated the Tri-City Development Council on progress at the site.
Bechtel National Inc., DOE’s treatment plant contractor, completed construction of the $17 billion Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in 2021, with commissioning continuing into 2022. The first of two 300-ton melters will be heated up and tested this year, with formal vitrification expected to begin in 2023. The second melter will be heated up once the lessons of the first have been assessed. To kick off the vitrification process, tank waste must be treated for cesium and other solids. To that end, construction of the Tank-Side Cesium Removal System wrapped in 2021. It began operating in January and by early April had treated 200,000 gallons, which will eventually be sent to the vit plant to be stabilized in glass logs.
Infrastructure is key To support it all entails infrastructure, an upgraded effluent treatment facility and integrated disposal facility for storage of waste canisters at the end. Elsewhere on the site, more than 2 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater were treated in 2021, bringing the total to 28 billion gallons as Hanford works to address subsurface contamination. Vance, in his remarks to TRIDEC, was particularly happy to report on a task that uPROGRESS, Page C8
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
2021 progress lays foundation for new cleanup era at Hanford Over the past year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and our contractor partners have made significant cleanup progress while establishing the safest possible environment for our workforce during the pandemic. Our One Hanford team has a lot to be proud of as we prepare to begin the next important chapter of our cleanup mission of the Hanford site. 2021 began with headlines to share the news that workers had finished constructing all Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant facilities needed for the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program, or DFLAW. The program involves a set of interdependent facilities and infrastructure systems operating together to successfully treat, vitrify (immobilize in glass) and dispose of millions of gallons of low-activity tank waste. Over the summer, when DOE, state and contractor officials announced that workers had made the 3,500-foot pipeline connection between Hanford tanks and the Waste Treatment Plant, regional editorial boards praised the accomplishment and recognized Hanford is taking huge steps forward as we prepare to vitrify tank waste. Last fall, the DFLAW program took another giant stride forward when
workers finished building and testing the TankSide Cesium Removal system, completing one of the top 2021 priorities of the DOE Office of Brian Vance Environmental U.S. Department Management, the of Energy office responsible for the safe and efficient cleanup of multiple defense production sites across the country.
Treating tank waste In January of this year, we started operating the system and entered a new era of our Hanford cleanup mission, the start of industrial-scale tank waste treatment. The treated waste is being staged until it can be fed directly to the nearby vitrification plant when it comes online next year. At the Waste Treatment Plant, workers completed testing on all the individual systems in 2021 and moved into the commissioning phase, where integrated systems and facility-level testing is underway. The first major commissioning test was successfully conducting a loss of electrical power to ensure backup systems functioned as expected. The next major
commissioning step is to begin heating up the first of two 300-ton melters later this year. Other projects to support DFLAW across the site, including construction, facility upgrades and permitting activities, remained on track to support safe and efficient preparations for the initiation of treating tank waste by the end of 2023.
Groundwater treatment Beyond the DFLAW program, our team continued to deliver taxpayer value in 2021 by safely progressing cleanup projects and conducting site operations that enhance the safety of our workforce and the public and reduce environmental risks. For the seventh year in a row, crews treated more than 2 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater for a total of 28 billion gallons since the project began in the mid-1990s. The groundwater treatment systems are part of an overarching effort to remove contaminants deposited during past operations from the ground to safeguard the Columbia River. After demolishing the former Plutonium Finishing Plant, the Hanford team finished removing debris and sampling the soil. Now the site is covered with sand and gravel, fortified with a fixative and routinely monitored to ensure that
the area remains safe for our workforce. Workers also finished stabilizing underground waste disposal structures near the former plant that were considered at risk of collapsing, achieving another Office of Environmental Management priority for 2021. Workers also began preparing the foundation for construction of a weather-resistant structure that will cover the K East Reactor until radioactive material in the reactor core has decayed to levels safe for future demolition. By the end of 2023, the K East Reactor will be the seventh of eight former plutonium production reactors that will be placed in interim safe storage, or “cocooned.” With the historic B Reactor preserved as part of a national park, when the K West Reactor is also placed in interim safe storage by the end of the decade, all the reactors that operated at the Hanford site will be in a safe and sustainable configuration for decades.
Site infrastructure Our Hanford team also remains focused on right-sizing and modernizing our site infrastructure to support our future cleanup effort. In October, workers started building a new 10,000-square-foot Central Plateau Water Treatment Facility
uDOE, Page C6
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
Battle over ‘disappointing’ Hanford budget heats up days after Biden signs 2022 plan By Wendy Culverwell firstname.lastname@example.org
President Joe Biden cut an estimated $172 million from the Hanford cleanup plan in his fiscal year 2023 budget request released just days after he signed a belated spending plan covering the remaining six months of the 2022 fiscal year. The president’s fiscal year 2023 budget request was released March 28, 13 days after Biden signed a $1.5 trillion spending bill that sent $2.6 billion to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the Hanford cleanup. The 2022 budget year ends Sept. 30. Biden’s 2023 proposal includes $7.6 billion for nuclear cleanup activities at Hanford and its fellow weapons communities, including the Savannah River site in South Carolina. David Reeploeg, vice president for federal affairs for the Tri-City Development Council, said the 2023 request is a starting point for discussions. Gov. Jay Inslee weighed in immediately, saying he was “concerned” about
shortchanging Hanford as it prepares to begin turning the 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste stored in 177 underDavid Reeploeg ground tanks into glass at its new $17 billion Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in the coming year. “Now is the time to redouble our efforts at Hanford, not to curtail them,” Inslee said via Tweet shortly after the budget request was released on the White House website. Laura Watson, director of the Washington Department of Ecology, traveled to Washington, D.C., in mid-March to ask that the government allocate more than $7 billion in the next two years – $3.35 billion in 2023 and $3.76 billion in 2024. The president’s budget was “terribly
disappointing,” she said via Tweet. “I was in Washington, D.C., earlier this month talking to federal officials about the urgency of fully funding the Hanford cleanup. Failing to meet the needs at Hanford is risky and misguided,” she wrote. Watson is no passive observer. The Department of Ecology is a party to the Tri-Party Agreement, the 1989 contract that governs the Hanford cleanup. DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency are the others. The federal government’s own figures show it will take far more than the $2.6 billion awarded each year since 2019 to vitrify tank waste. Over its lifetime, the process will cost $320 billion to $660 billion, figures confirmed in DOE’s 2022 Hanford Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost Report, which was released in January. The 2022 budget sent $1.65 billion to DOE’s Office of River Protection and $950 million to its Richland Operations Office. Reeploeg noted the 2022 plan funds
the next phase of the test bed initiative, or TBI, which is studying an alternative to vitrification for low-level waste – grouting. Grouting is a potentially less expensive way to address low-level tank waste, leaving the complex vit plant to handle high level waste. Reeploeg said TRIDEC supports the grout approach if it is proven to be effective, particularly if Congress is reluctant to fund vitrification. “One of the things on our minds is the long-term costs for cleanup and making sure it is actually done,” Reeploeg said. “Part of that is going to depend on budgets. It is not easy to figure out how to accomplish the cleanup mission at a cost we can expect to be funded.” Priorities for 2023 include design work for treating high-level waste through vitrification and addressing aging infrastructure on the site, now in its eighth decade. As the cleanup mission evolves, the site’s utilities, roads and other facilities need to be updated and modernized.
HANFORD ADVISORY BOARD Hanford Advisory Board seeks volunteers to increase representation The Hanford Advisory Board, which provides a public voice to the Hanford cleanup mission, is seeking volunteers to increase representation. The HAB has issued more than 300 advisories and recommendations in its 27-plus years. Its members are volunteers who dedicate themselves to learning all they can about Hanford cleanup, engage in civil discussion and reach consensus on advice that they hope will advance Hanford cleanup. Its primary mission is to provide informed recommendations and advice to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Washington Department of Ecology – the parties to the Tri-Party Agreement, the legal agreement that governs the work. The board receives information, pre-
sentations and engages in conversations with the Tri-Party agencies to become informed about cleanup issues and plans that affect or Steve Wiegman impact policy Hanford decisions. Advisory Board The board aims to develop informed consensus, policy level recommendations and advice that represents the diverse opinions and perspectives of communities and organizations throughout the region. It is also intended to be a component for Hanford tribal and public involvement and input, but not be the sole
conduit for those activities. Through its work, the board helps the agencies in focusing public involvement. The board helps the broader public become more informed through open, public meetings. Members are expected to communicate with their constituents as well to help them remain informed and meaningfully involved in Hanford cleanup decisions. One of its fundamental responsibilities is to respond to requests for policy-level advice from DOE, Ecology and EPA. Each year, DOE, Ecology and EPA provide it with a draft work plan and receive its input in the finalized plan. When new or emerging issues arise throughout the year, the TPA agencies may seek the board’s advice. DOE, Ecology and EPA acknowledge that the board may identify additional
issues of concern to its members, consult with TPA agencies and provide advice. The board works through a committee process to become educated on cleanup issues. Committee members develop informed draft advice to bring to a full board meeting for a discussion and vote. The completion of cleanup is a decades-long project and the demographics of the region continue to evolve. DOE is seeking to evolve HAB membership to be representative of regional interests. If you or an organization you represent are interested in participating in this important work by joining the board, please contact Gary Younger of DOE at 509-302-3972. Steve Wiegman is chairman of the Hanford Advisory Board.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY
There’s reason for optimism in the year ahead at Hanford 2021 was an eventful year for cleanup work at the Hanford site. That goes double for our Washington State Department of Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program team, which is responsible for overseeing the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup of Hanford’s nuclear legacy. A lot of important work was accomplished, and we look forward to the work to be done in 2022.
PFP cleanup Late last year, we saw the demolition finish for the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP), which was among the most contaminated facilities at Hanford. When operational, the plant took liquid plutonium and processed it into buttons, which were sent on to weapons production facilities. The plant produced nearly two-thirds of the nation’s plutonium stockpile. Upon closure of PFP in October 1996, plutonium-uranium solids, solutions, residues and polycubes, along with gloveboxes and pencil tanks, needed to be removed before demolition. More than 90 buildings associated with the PFP Complex were demolished. In December last year, the last boxes of plutonium-contaminated debris left the PFP site. To bring this project to its successful conclusion, Ecology, DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the Washington State Department of Health worked closely to resolve concerns of worker risk and public safety with improved work processes in safety, engineering, monitoring and regulatory review. Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste Last year also brought construction certification of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) facility, which is expected to begin treating tank waste in 2023. This process included extensive review DOE, From page C4 to replace the water plant that was built during the Manhattan Project, with a modern and supportable facility that will affordably deliver potable water to our site. We also are working on infrastructure projects, large and small, to ensure that our site’s electrical distribution system, information technology systems, water and sewer systems, and roads continue to support safe and cost-efficient cleanup progress.
Environmental legacy As we meet our responsibility to address the environmental legacy of Hanford, the site is fortunate to be surrounded by a skilled set of local industry partners, including small businesses that help us deliver results. Hanford also is surrounded by a diverse community and tribal nations who are important partners in planning for a safe and sustainable
and evaluation by structural and corrosion engineers, inspections for installation consistent with design, physical configuration David Bowen audits and a final Department certification that of Ecology the system and facility were constructed in compliance with the Hanford Dangerous Waste Permit. On the permitting side of DFLAW, Ecology focused on processing 50 modifications to the Hanford Dangerous Waste Permit, in addition to an approval order for air permitting to support startup of the new treatment facility.
health and safety.
future. Ensuring that those most impacted by the environmental legacy of the past and the cleanup mission of today have a voice that provides valuable insight as we prioritize and plan cleanup. As the Hanford team progresses its cleanup mission, stewardship of both natural and cultural resources on the 580-square-mile Hanford site is also one of DOE’s important responsibilities. We work closely with local communities, and we engage with Native American tribes to provide the opportunity for them to share their perspectives and provide input on cleanup priorities and activities. Our stewardship role also has led to agreements with the U.S. Department of the Interior to manage most of the lands that make up the Hanford Reach National Monument. We also are committed to carrying out our mission in a sustainable manner that minimizes the impact of emissions. This
year, we are updating our assessment of site systems, operations and facilities to help us continue to be proactive about enhancing the resilience of our facilities and adapting to climate change.
Ambient Air Boundary Our agency and DOE developed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) outlining the new Hanford Ambient Air Boundary and the measures used to maintain the boundary. The MOA became necessary as progress at Hanford had some unintended consequences, such as increased public access to B Reactor Museum events, changes in oversight at Rattlesnake Mountain and regularly observed accidental public access. Applications for air permits in Washington require the permittee to demonstrate that emissions from the proposal ensure pollutants cannot cause or contribute to a violation of any ambient air quality standard and that toxic air pollutants must be sufficiently low to protect human health and safety. The ambient air boundary, often the fence line, is the border where we consider the public to potentially have access, and a facility must ensure emissions that disperse outside of that boundary meet the ambient air quality standard and remain sufficiently low to protect human
Soil and groundwater cleanup Interim Records of Decision also were issued this past year, identifying actions to address primary groundwater contaminants in the central plateau, and in the area of B Plant and Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant (PUREX) operations. This accomplishment represents a significant amount of work and coordination between all of the Tri-Party Agencies as we advance cleanup of soil and groundwater in the area, with continued monitoring of cleanup effectiveness to inform any future adjustments to actions. Other projects Those were some of the long-term projects our program led or was a major participant in. Other projects included coordinating closely with the Yakama Nation to resolve comments on state cleanup requirements for the EPA-led development of a Record of Decision at B Reactor and C Reactor, which will guide cleanup of soil and groundwater along the river corridor. We also partnered with EPA and DOE to resolve structural stability issues for three underground structures at or near the PFP site, which posed risk to human health and the environment in the event of a structure collapse. Staffing challenges On top of all this important work, our office entered into 2021 with a new Nuclear Waste program manager operating under Covid-19 health restrictions during a hiring freeze. We experienced several retirements, promotions and transfers. Our office also created new positions and navigated through a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for Ecology, DOE and its contractors. We developed transition plans for team members leaving and assigned critical work to keep work moving. Needless to say, we wrapped up
Workforce Every successful enterprise is built and sustained by people. The Hanford site is no different, and the people that make up our team are our most important asset. While our cleanup effort is technically complex and the largest of its kind in our nation, our Hanford workforce continues to deliver safe and efficient progress through dedication and exceptional teamwork. Our Hanford team is devoting its energy and expertise to further our important cleanup mission, while consistently delivering positive results for our site, our community and the environment of the Pacific Northwest. Looking to the future, we also are working with industry, labor
2021 and are starting 2022 with a major recruitment push. This includes 14 active job postings and eight more positions to be posted soon. If you or someone you know has an interest in working on the most complex cleanup project in the United States, we’re looking to add engineers, permit writers, permit coordinators, inspectors, project managers, IT professionals and administrative team members.
Looking ahead There is always more to do at Hanford. In 2022 our planned work includes continued coordination with DOE, EPA, tribal nations, various state and local agencies, the Hanford Advisory Board and the public to develop work plans, removal actions at the PUREX complex, permitting to support DFLAW facility startup, and renewal of the Hanford sitewide permit. Our program has permits with other non-Hanford entities, and we are planning to renew the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard dangerous waste permit and finalize preparation of the Perma-Fix Northwest permit renewal for public comment. We also plan to issue three wastewater discharge permit renewals and various air approvals. We have optimism regarding paths forward with ongoing holistic negotiations with DOE and EPA, including setting pace and timing of tank waste retrievals, treatment, disposal and closure, along with actions to address leaking tanks and aging facilities going into the future. 2021 was a year like no other, and our team at Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program is looking forward to progressing cleanup of Hanford even further in 2022. David Bowen is the manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program. and academia to develop a diverse and talented next generation of talented professionals who are ready for the challenges and satisfaction of delivering cleanup progress and risk reduction. I am proud of the many important achievements that our Hanford team has safely delivered during challenging times. Given the exceptional accomplishments over the last few years, and especially this last year, I am very optimistic about our site’s future. Finally, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with the exceptional professionals of our Hanford workforce team, and I look forward to ushering in the next exciting phase of our site mission with the start of tank waste treatment. Brian Vance is the manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
HANFORD AREA ECONOMIC INVESTMENT FUND HAEIF has provided $25 million in loans to 47 businesses, municipalities The Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund was established by the Washington State Legislature in 1991 when local leaders, recognizing the mission of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was changing, worked with legislators to establish an economic investment fund. The primary goal of the Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund Advisory Committee (HAEIFAC) is to provide loan funding that allows for the creation of jobs and is a means to leverage funds to help diversify the local economic base in the “Hanford area,” which is defined as Benton and Franklin counties. The fund receives a portion of the waste fees collected from low level nuclear waste deposited at the U.S. Department of Energy site in the Hanford area. The program is housed under the Washington Department of Commerce and is governed by all laws applicable to all state agencies. Commerce Director Lisa Brown, Assistant Director Mark Barkley and their staff provide help, support and guidance with legal counsel provided by Washington State Assistant Attorney General Sandra Adix. “Our partnership with HAEIFAC on local funding solutions is a unique and important opportunity to diversify the local economy and create jobs that strengthen
communities in Benton and Franklin counties,” Brown said.
Who makes up HAEIFAC? The advisory committee consists of 11 memSkip Novakovich bers representing Hanford Area the public and Economic private sectors in Investment Fund the two counties. Per RCWs, membership consists of a “balanced membership representing one member each from the elected leadership of Benton County, Franklin County, the city of Richland, the city of Kennewick, the city of Pasco, a Hanford area port district, the labor community and four members from the Hanford area business and financial community, all appointed by the director of the Department of Commerce.” The committee chair also is appointed by the director of the Department of Commerce with approval from the governor’s office. Other HAEIFAC officers are elected by the committee annually. Current leadership is provided under the direction of the Department of Commerce
Courtesy HAEIFAC Randy Hayden, fourth from right, executive director of the Port of Pasco, and the port team and commission dedicate the new Reimann Industrial Center in north Pasco. The Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund provided a $2.25 million loan to buy the former agriculture property. Darigold Inc. is building a $500 million processing plant on the site and Old Dominion Trucking is eyeing the property for a new transloading center.
appointed chair, Skip Novakovich, who serves as the Hanford area port representative. Other current appointed committee members are: Rebekah Dobbs, vice chair – financial community representative; Colin Hastings, secretary – business community
representative; Phil Lemley – treasurer, city of Richland; Pete Serrano, subcommittee chair of private business loans, city of Pasco; Austin DePaolo, subcommittee chair of municipal loans, labor represenuHAEIF, Page C10
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
Courtesy U.S. Department of Energy
PROGRESS, From page C3 has dropped off the to-do list: The Plutonium Finishing Plant, or PFP. “We no longer have to talk about the Plutonium Finishing Plant because it’s done,” he said with relish. The decades-long effort to place eight plutonium production reactors into interim safe storage extends to the River Corridor’s 100 Area. K East Reactor is being covered with a weather-resistant structure with foundations poured. K West Reactor
will be completed by the end of the decade.
The reactors With that work, all but one of the reactors will be cocooned, waiting for their cores to decay to levels safe enough to demolish them in the future. TB Reactor, the world’s first production reactor and the source of plutonium in the war-ending bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, is preserved as part of the Manhattan Project National Park. The park’s Hanford unit visitor center is closed and public tours have been post-
poned due to the pandemic. A reopening date has not yet been announced. To better picture what the site looks like for those who have never visited, go to: bit.ly/HanfordTours.
Other top priorities Transferring nearly 2,000 radioactive cesium capsules from underwater basins so they can be placed in safer dry systems is another top priority in 2022, as is preparing to remove highly contaminated soil under the 324 building, which is north of the Richland city boundary and only a few
hundred yards from the Columbia River. And finally, on March 15, President Joe Biden signed a $1.5 trillion appropriations bill that funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2022. The budget includes $2.6 billion for Hanford and restored payments to local government that the president initially wanted to eliminate. With the 2022 budget finalized, negotiations for 2023 have started.
HLMI simulates vitrification in the 222-S lab
Lab techs simulated tank waste to vitrify in the laboratory.
The simulated waste is heated in the 222-S lab under conditions mimicking the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
The liquified waste is poured into a stainless steel container.
The simulated waste takes glass form when cooled. Photos courtesy HLMI
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
Tri-City leaders push grout as better, faster, cheaper approach to Hanford’s low-level tank waste By Wendy Culverwell email@example.com
A coalition of high-profile Tri-City business and civic leaders is pushing Hanford managers and regulators to encapsulate low-level tank waste in grout rather than glass, calling grout a better, faster and cheaper approach to cleaning up the nuclear reservation. Northwest Energy Associates, a nonprofit formed in 2020, is led by Gary Petersen in partnership with Bob Ferguson and Bill Lampson. It formed to draw attention to the cost of vitrification, to the Hanford budget and to promote grouting as the best solution to handling the low-level waste that comprises most of the tank waste held at the Central Plateau. The group operates under the banner “Clean Up Hanford Now.” The 2022 federal budget appropriates nearly $2.6 billion for the Hanford cleanup and includes funding for the next phase of the test bed initiative to prove the efficacy of grouting waste. The U.S. Department of Energy’s spendy new Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant is still needed for high-level waste, Clean Up Hanford Now argues.
The argument for grout Grouting, the group argues, is the financially responsible alternative to vitrification and will let the community move to a post-cleanup economy. They want to see a 1999-approved master plan for the site put into action, allowing research, economic and recreational use of some of the 580-square-mile Hanford reservation. “If not us, who?” asked Petersen, president of the NEA board. Petersen led efforts to keep federal dollars flowing to the site as vice president for government affairs at the Tri-City Development Council until he retired in 2017. Bill Lampson, CEO of Lampson International, and Bob Ferguson, a former DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary and Energy Northwest executive, serve as co-chairs. Ferguson remains heavily involved while he recovers from a stroke. Rounding out the team are Kate Lampson, also of Lampson International, and Kathy Lampson, a Tri-City advertising executive and marketing specialist and executive board member of TRIDEC. Former U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks and Sid Morrison serve as advisors. Sallie Ortiz is the science writer. The group said it aims to collaborate with, not fight, DOE and the Washington Department of Ecology over the best way to treat waste. Its pro-grout argument rests on the staggering cost to vitrify tank waste and on a 2019 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which said 90% of the 56 million gallons of waste generated by the production of plutonium for the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal could be treated with grout at a fraction
of the cost of vitrification. DOE intends to vitrify half of the low-activity waste under terms of the 1989 Tri-Party Agreement, Gary Petersen reached between the state Department of Ecology, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. GAO studied the challenge Bob Ferguson of addressing waste held in 177 single- and double-shelled tanks on the Central Plateau at Congress’ request and concluded that a new approach is needed. “Congress should consider specifically authorizing DOE to classify Hanford’s supplemental (low-activity waste) based on risk, consistent with existing regulatory authorities. GAO also recommends that DOE develop updated information on the performance of treating (low-activity waste) with alternate methods, such as grout, before it selects an approach for treating supplemental (low-activity waste),” it wrote. Vitrification entails mixing waste with glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit in stainless steel containers, then storing the logs at a disposal site in central Hanford pending a national repository to accept nuclear waste. DOE and its prime contractor, Bechtel National Inc., plan to begin heating up the first melter in anticipation of a 2023 start.
Speeding up cleanup For Clean Up Hanford Now, grouting low-level waste offers the clearest path to ending Hanford’s wartime mission and replacing it with a clean energy one. Leaders said they acted because no one else was. “We need an advocacy group to get Hanford cleaned up and turned over to new projects,” Petersen said. “We’re trying to speed up the Hanford cleanup.” In January, the DOE released its 2022 Hanford Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost Report, a detailed document that lays out the history of Hanford and the challenge that lies ahead. The report was produced in compliance with the Tri-Party Agreement and confirms that the cleanup carries a daunting price tag. It brackets the total cleanup cost – with some caveats – at $320 billion on the low end and $660 billion on the high. The higher number reflects uncertainty around the vitrification program. Congress sent $2.6 billion to Hanford in 2019, 2020, 2021 and now 2022. The Clean Up Hanford Now team believes it will balk at spending $5 billion or more
to fully fund work over many years it will take to put tank waste through the vitrification process. Hanford already consumes about a third of DOE’s Environmental Management budget, more than any of the 15 other sites across the U.S. “Congress isn’t going to agree to that,” Petersen said.
Clean energy campus Treatment is half the Clean Up Hanford Now argument. Readying the site for new missions is the other. With an eye to the future, they are eager to see Hanford’s acres put back into public use as a clean energy campus for everything from small modular nuclear reactors to a carbon sequestration facility. A Comprehensive Land Use Plan ap-
proved in 1999 spells out some of the new activities that could happen in some of the areas currently behind the fence. The plan Kathy Lampson was noted in the Federal Register on Nov. 12, 1999. “Current DOE management and Ecology don’t have a history with it. But it is their plan, and it is approved by Congress,” Petersen said. Petersen and Kate Lampson cite the 1,641 acres DOE transferred to the TriCity Development Council in 2016 following years of discussion. A year later, the economic development agency transferred 1,341 acres to the city of Richland and the Port of Benton, which are working out the details of putting in roads, utilities and other infrastructure for future tenants needing large sites for energy, food and other production facilities. The transferred acres are dwarfed by the land still contained within the site. “If you can speed treatment up, you can get to redevelopment,” Petersen said. Online: cleanuphanfordnow.org.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
BECHTEL NATIONAL INC.
Vit plant readies to heat up world’s largest melter In 2022, the Hanford Vit Plant team will tackle some of the most complex and challenging milestones on our journey to transform low-activity radiological and chemical tank waste into a glass form safe for long-term disposal. This process, called vitrification, will allow us to protect the Columbia River and its rivershore communities. It’s an exciting time to be part of the project, also known as the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant project. The efforts of thousands of people – our team, customers, suppliers, stakeholders and alumni – will culminate more than two decades with three historic steps: 1. Heating up the first melter. The melters are housed inside the Low-Activity Waste Facility and are the heart of the vitrification process, which will turn Hanford’s waste into a glass form for safe disposal. When operational, the melters will mix low-activity waste with glass-forming chemicals at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The mixture is poured into stainless steel containers to cool and solidify before being disposed at the Hanford Integrated Disposal Facility. 2. Conducting cold commissioning.
In this step, our team will run chemical simulants through the plant to demonstrate the operation of the vitrification process before Valerie McCain tank waste is inBechtel National Inc. troduced into the plant in 2023. 3. Heating up the second melter. We will apply lessons learned from the first melter heatup to bring the second one up to temperature after cold commissioning is complete. Both melters will remain at operating temperature into long-term operations. Our team has worked diligently on 24/7 shifts to ensure we have the people, plant and paper/processes ready to move forward in bringing the largest melters in the world into operation. We started 2021 by marking all construction complete, a hallmark moment for this project. Throughout the year, we celebrated several significant achievements in all three of these areas.
ington Building Trades, we have hired many of the teammates needed into permanent positions, from laboratory technicians to radiological control technicians, and qualified key people for running the facility. Additional team members will be added this year to complete the hiring needed to fill the full team. Our team has grown and changed as we finished construction and shifted fully into commissioning.
Management Facilities. These are just a handful of the accomplishments from 2021 that were made possible because of our team, our U.S. Department of Energy customer, regulators and many businesses in the Tri-Cities and across the country. We safely advanced the project across all fronts thanks to our team’s focus on the right behaviors, teamwork, commitment and overall resiliency. Our team is also incredibly generous, donating more than $340,000 to the Tri-Cities community in 2021. Those donations cross the spectrum of need in the community, such as the Children’s Reading Foundation, Toys for Tots, Bikes for Tikes, Special Olympics, United Way, STEM Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs. I’m so proud of the team and look forward to building upon our successes in 2022. I can’t think of a more exciting time to have the privilege of being a part of the vit plant team and advance our important national mission. Valerie McCain is senior vice president for Bechtel National and project director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
HAEIF, From page C7
reviews the funding application, conducts an extensive evaluation of all criteria and when its process is completed, makes a recommendation to the full committee. The Private Business Loan Review Subcommittee reviews loan applications submitted from for-profit businesses located within the two counties. The Public Entity Loan Review Subcommittee reviews loan applications from governmental agencies or public entities. The Grant Review Subcommittee reviews grant applications from governmental agencies or public entities. The firm contracted to perform accounting and loan servicing works with all applicants to ensure their applications are complete and the applicant understands and desires to continue with the process before submitting the application to the appropriate subcommittee for review.
In addition to the formal program, early match assistance of $500,000 also was provided to establish the CREDiT Loan Fund managed by the Benton-Franklin Council of Governments. An example of recent private sector funding was a loan made to Iconic Brewing, which opened at Richland’s Horn Rapids in 2021. Owners Matt and Deb Driscoll contacted HAEIFAC through a referral from their local bank. The advisory committee was impressed with the owners’ significant personal investment and the potential to expand job creation and the number of craft breweries in the community. Iconic Brewing owners have told the committee they were very pleased to have a local community partner to assist financing their startup, especially during the pandemic. “HAEIFAC has been very accommodating with their financing terms during the pandemic as we navigated the challenging Covid economy,” the Driscolls said. Another recent private sector funding was awarded to The Lodge at Columbia Point in Richland. HAEIFAC was excited to assist in providing needed gap financing that provided a local solution promoting the development of this “boutique hotel.” The funding helped the hotel retain its 62 employees and “encourage quality and loyal visitorship and economic investment in southeast Washington,” said Wendy Higgins, general manager of The Lodge. A recent public sector financing example occurred when the committee worked with the Port of Pasco to assist with timely
gap financing to buy land that led to the creation of the Reimann Industrial Center to support the immediate demand of industrial land for development. The new Darigold plant chose the area, planning an estimated $500 million investment. “We greatly appreciated the timely assistance of HAEIFAC in being able to put the financing together for this project,” said Randy Hayden, executive director of the Port of Pasco.
tative; Karl Dye, subcommittee chair of grants – business representative; Brad Peck, Franklin County representative; Will McKay, Benton County representative; and Paulina Perez, business community representative. The board had one vacancy in mid-April.
What does HAEIFAC do? The RCWs give HAEIFAC the powers to (1) Adopt bylaws for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of business; (2) Utilize the services of other governmental agencies; (3) Accept from any federal or state agency loans or grants for the purpose of funding Hanford area revolving loan funds, Hanford area infrastructure projects, or Hanford area economic development projects; (4) Adopt rules for the administration of the program including terms and rates pertaining to loans as, and criteria for awarding grants, loans and financial guarantees. Contracts for support services HAEIFAC has no employees and committee members are not compensated for their service. The advisory committee maintains various contracts for support services. The state Attorney General’s Office assigns an assistant attorney general to provide legal services. Accounting and loan services are currently contracted through the CPA firm of CliftonLarsonAllen. Jo Larr Management Consulting is contracted to provide administrative services support. It is contracted with One World Technology. Three subcommittees support the review of applications for funding. Each group
Workforce By collaborating with the Central Wash-
Loan recipients The first loans to small businesses were funded in 1997 to Xactex, Plastic Injection Molding and One World Telecommunications. In 1998 the first municipal loan was made to the city of Pasco for a water reuse facility to assist with infrastructure for the development of the agricultural food processing sector. In 2011 a formal municipal grant program launched to provide local municipalities with a local funding match for grant applications. The cities of Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, West Richland and Connell, as well as the Port of Benton and the Port of Kennewick, received grant funds which helped leverage additional federal and state funding totaling more than $20 million.
Plant testing We completed startup testing of all equipment, systems and facilities. We successfully conducted a test to demonstrate that the plant could be brought back online safely if it experienced a loss of off-site power. We began testing the movement of stainless-steel containers that will carry vitrified waste in the plant by moving them through the process using remotely operated crane systems. Procedures and permits Our team created almost 5,500 step-bystep procedures required for operation of the systems and facilities. The Washington Department of Ecology approved multiple permits necessary for both the Low-Activity Waste and Effluent
Loan totals to date To date HAEIFAC has provided $25 million in loans to 47 business and municipalities. It is estimated these loans have created or retained over 4,300 jobs and supported well over $330 million in local investment in private and public funding. The advisory committee has provided many local businesses, as well as municipalities, the ability to acquire financing that allowed them to pursue opportunities to grow, create jobs and diversify the local economy. The fund’s current loan portfolio includes private business loans to Fuse, Iconic Brewing, Baum’s Chocolates, Prepper Peppers, The Lodge at Columbia Point, Second Chance Spirits and Cookies R Rusk. Public municipal loans went to the city of Pasco for wastewater treatment plant upgrades and the Port of Pasco for Reimann Industrial Center development and the purchase of airport land. For more information, contact JoEllen Peters, administrative consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-547-9448. Skip Novakovich is chair of the Hanford Area Economic Investment Fund.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
WASHINGTON RIVER PROTECTION SOLUTIONS WRPS finds success through grit and resilience despite past year’s obstacles The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business’ “Hanford edition” is a publication I look forward to every year. This is an opportunity to recognize our workforce and thank our community partners who enable our success as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) tank operations contractor on the Hanford site. In 2021, our success was unmatched. Never before in our 13 years at Hanford have we delivered so much for our DOE customer, stakeholders and community. Our employees remain honored by having the privilege to accomplish this meaningful work, during some of our country’s most trying times. Our workforce of 3,000 employees and subcontractors adapted to changing workplace conditions, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to safely advance our critical work managing 56 million gallons of highly radioactive and chemical waste stored in Hanford’s 177 underground tanks. We redeployed resources as necessary, shifted schedules and increased our pace of operations to ensure we met our commitments for our client and community.
Making history That allowed us to make history here at Hanford earlier this year. In January, we began the site’s first-ever large-
scale tank waste treatment effort. Over three years, during a historic pandemic, our team delivered the Tank-Side Cesium ReJohn Eschenberg moval (TSCR) Washington River system on time Protection Solutions and on budget. The TSCR system is a key component of the Hanford mission to treat tank waste using the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program. TSCR filters out undissolved solids and uses an ion exchange system to remove cesium from radioactive and chemical tank waste. We have now begun work toward our goal of processing 1 million gallons of waste through TSCR so that it can be staged in a double-shell tank in preparation for direct-feed to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility when it comes online by the end of 2023. At the Effluent Treatment Facility, our team completed a series of upgrades in 2021 and treated about a million gallons of wastewater from site oper-
ations. Now that the campaign is over, we are embarking on another series of upgrades at that facility to add capacity and efficiency needed to treat the condensate produced through DFLAW. WRPS’ award-winning physiological monitoring program protected employees during the summer’s record-setting heat. This allowed us to complete critical work, like replacing a cover on a wastewater storage basin, even as surface temperatures in the basin reached 140 degrees. I cannot tell you how impressed I am by this hearty group of employees that safely worked in conditions many of us simply can’t imagine.
Single-shell tank progress This year, we will complete retrieving waste from the site’s 20th single-shell tank. The WRPS team has become very adept at safely retrieving and transferring waste from older single-shell tanks to double-shell tanks for safe storage until it can be treated. We also are installing the needed infrastructure to retrieve waste in other tank farms, allowing us to seamlessly advance this critical risk-reduction priority. Simultaneously, our robust tank integrity program develops and deploys
unique robotic systems to inspect our tanks visually and ultrasonically on a regular basis. In the coming year, we are also scheduled to finish needed upgrades to the 242-A Evaporator, enabling us to create more valuable storage space in our double-shell tank system. We also plan to begin preparatory work to install an asphalt surface barrier on U Farm, the fifth tank farm that will have a surface barrier preventing rain and snowmelt from driving existing contamination in the soil toward the groundwater.
Safety records We can achieve these accomplishments safely because we maintain one of the best safety records across the DOE Environmental Management complex. In 2021, we received nine external awards, recognizing our commitment to safety, quality assurance and environmental excellence. In late 2021, the Association of Washington Business honored WRPS as its Employer of the Year, recognizing our innovative job retention, creation, benefits and compensation plans that foster a thriving work environment. We could not be a stellar employer
uWRPS, Page C16
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
CENTRAL PLATEAU CLEANUP COMPANY
Completion culture drives continued cleanup progress It’s hard to believe it has been more than a year since the Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo) started work as the new prime contractor for nuclear waste cleanup on the Hanford site’s Central Plateau and along the Columbia River. CPCCo began work in January 2021 with a mission to build on 30 years of cleanup progress with cost-effective and efficient solutions to safely finish several of Hanford’s highest-profile risk-reduction projects over the next decade. A new leadership team brings new energy, and a motivated and committed workforce is already delivering great results. With a completion mindset in place, our highly trained crews hit the ground running and safely closed out one of our key projects in less than 12 months: the end of demolition activities at the former Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP), once among the most contaminated sites in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) environmental cleanup complex. What exactly did that effort look like? Watch a time-lapse video showing PFP demolition over the last five years: bit.ly/PFPdemo. I couldn’t be prouder of our team for working hand in hand with DOE and the Department of Ecology to safely move this project across the finish line. Yet, as exciting as this historic accomplishment
is for CPCCo and the Hanford cleanup mission, it is just one of several key projects on our “to do” list in 2022 and beyond.
Capsule transfer We continue to make significant progress toward the transfer of nearly 2,000 radioactive cesium and strontium capsules from an underwater basin in the Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF) to safer dry storage. Last year, we completed construction of a storage area where casks loaded with capsules will be placed. We also awarded a subcontract to complete the necessary structural and utility modifications to WESF and install the new cask storage system. This year, testing and training on equipment that will move the capsules into the casks will continue at our full-scale mock-up, and we will upgrade and modify areas in and around the WESF facility to prepare for the capsule transfer. 324 Building Last March, work resumed at the 324 Scott Sax Central Plateau Cleanup Company
Building after a yearlong pause to conduct important safety reviews. Over the past year, our team has made excellent progress on structural modifications needed to prepare the facility for the removal of contaminated soil under the building. That work will continue this year, along with other activities to ensure the safe completion of this key risk-reduction project near the Columbia River.
K reactors The area near Hanford’s former K West and K East Reactors also continues to be a busy place for CPCCo. Our crews recently removed contaminated filter material from the 1.2 million-gallon spent fuel storage basin in the K West Reactor. Workers placed the material in shielded containers and transferred them about 10 miles away from the river to T Plant for safe interim storage. With the filter media gone, we are beginning work to stabilize about 15,000 pounds of radioactive debris in the underwater basin. Debris stabilization and removal are among the final steps needed to allow workers to safely drain and demolish the basin. At the former K East Reactor, we are starting construction on a steel structure to be placed over the building. The enclosure will protect the reactor building while the radioactivity in the reactor core decays over the next several decades, making it easier and safer to complete disposition of the reactor in the future. K East will be the seventh of Hanford’s eight former reactors to be “cocooned,” or placed in safe storage, with the ninth – B Reactor – preserved as part of a national park. Groundwater cleanup We also continue to focus on accelerating the cleanup of groundwater. Fiscal year 2021 marked the seventh straight year the site has treated more than 2 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater, and Hanford is closing in on 30 billion total gallons treated during the life of the cleanup mission. Our six pump-and-treat facilities continue to remove hazardous chemical and radioactive constituents on the Central Plateau and along the Columbia River, reducing risk across the Hanford site. Engineered landfill Finally, CPCCo is making excellent progress on construction activities at the Integrated Disposal Facility in support of the site’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program, a top priority
for DOE. This engineered landfill will provide permanent, environmentally safe disposal for containers filled with vitrified, or immobilized in glass, low-activity tank waste from the nearby Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant and mixed low-level waste from Hanford operations. The disposal facility is an excellent example of the collaborative One Hanford approach: DOE and all of the site’s contractors are working together toward a common goal of getting the waste out of the tanks and treating it for safe disposal.
Community involvement Just as important to CPCCo as tackling the technical aspects of Hanford’s cleanup mission is our role in making a positive impact on the Tri-Cities community we all call home. Our incredibly generous workforce last year donated hundreds of volunteer hours supporting numerous community organizations, such as the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, Columbia Basin College and United Way. We can’t wait to expand our engagement efforts in 2022, through additional volunteer activities, support of school STEM programs to provide opportunities for our next generation of Hanford workers, and service on local boards, just to name a few of our community involvement goals. It’s an exciting time for CPCCo, and I’m proud of what we accomplished in 2021, as we safely navigated the challenges of an ongoing pandemic. Our first year reducing risk on the Central Plateau on behalf of DOE’s environmental cleanup mission fills us with energy and optimism for 2022. With a talented and experienced workforce of more than 1,600 and fantastic support from the Tri-City subcontractor community, we look forward to continuing to partner with DOE, regulators and stakeholders to make Hanford a model for success across the DOE complex. To learn more, go to: cpcco.hanford.gov. Scott Sax is president/project manager at Central Plateau Cleanup Company. Editor’s note: Scott Sax recently announced his retirement. John Eschenberg, currently of WRPS, will succeed him effective May 16.
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TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
Geologist: Hanford was the right site for the Manhattan Project By Wendy Culverwell email@example.com
Long before the 580-acre Hanford site became a recognizable nuclear reservation and beating heart of the Manhattan Project, a unique combination of Bruce Bjornstad lava flows, ice age floods, tectonic rotation and wind acted to form the landscape. About 17 million years before government scouts landed on it, to be precise. The Hanford Engineer Works team, seeking a spot to pursue atomic technology, recognized its relative stability in 1942. By early 1943, plans were afoot to transform a corner of Central Washington into a home for the top-secret project’s B, D and F reactors and other support facilities to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The site selectors chose well, said Bruce Bjornstad, a geologist and retired senior research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. Bjornstad offered a lively view of the forces that acted on the region to create Hanford and Central Washington for an audience of about 200 in February, part of the Washington State Department of Ecology’s ongoing “Let’s Talk About Hanford” series. Watch the video at bit.ly/LetsTalkAboutHanfordGeology.
Courtesy U.S. Department of Energy The 100-D Area on the Hanford site overlooks the Columbia River and the White Bluffs, an area raised by plate tectonics and further shaped by ice age flood deposits within what is now the Hanford Reach National Monument. The geography of Hanford and Central Washington is due to millions of years of lava flows, ice age floods, tectonic activity and wind.
Hanford, he said, has some of the most unique geology in the world, thanks to the combination of lava flows (300 or more), ice age floods (at least 100), tectonic pressure pushing up the deep layer of basalt into the hills we see today and wind-blown sediments. Did the government choose well when it picked the area? Bjornstad believes it did. “Definitely yes,” he said. “They could not have picked a better site to store nuclear and hazardous waste,” he said, describing how waste is stored in the
200 Area on Hanford’s Central Plateau, an area formed by ice age floods that left 200300 feet of sediment between the surface and the groundwater. The waste is buried near the top, well above the water table below. “I think they picked a very good place to store even though they didn’t know or understand it at the time. In the ’40s, they didn’t understand the geology and hydrogeology of Hanford. It was a fortuitous choice that they did pick a place like the Hanford Plateau for storing waste. We should be
happy for that,” he said. That doesn’t mean waste hasn’t leaked along the Columbia River, but as Ecology staff noted, waste-filled tanks at Savannah River, South Carolina, sit in the water, not above it. So, how did the region’s landscape form? It involves 17 million years and begins with lava released from vents along the modern Washington-Idaho border, at least 300 individual flows. Bjornstad and other geologists describe the spreading mass as a pancake-like batter that spread far and wide. It flowed onto the channeled scabland, down the Columbia River Gorge and to Portland and the Pacific Ocean. Tectonic pressure rotating around Pendleton at about the same speed that fingernails grow pinched the deep basalt into the Yakima Folds – the hills (anticlines) and valleys (synclines) that define the region. The Umtanum, Rattlesnake and Horse Heaven hills are all the result of the process. Gable Mountain on the Hanford site is another example. The pinching process is ongoing. The basalt layers are deepest near Prosser, about 15,000 feet. The basalt is about 10,000 feet deep at Hanford. The Ringold Formation, sediment laid down by the ancient Columbia River, formed 3-10 million years ago. Ice age floods are far more recent. They rumbled through between 14,000 and uGEOLOGIST, Page C16
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TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
CENTRAL PLATEAU HANFORD MISSION INTEGRATION CLEANUP COMPANY SOLUTIONS New Hanford role in 2021 sets up site for a safe and secure 2022 Like many others have experienced, 2021 brought challenges and changes for Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS). With every challenge comes opportunity, and our team flourished in its new role. We began operations of the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract on Jan. 25, 2021, making significant progress to enable Hanford cleanup across a skilled workforce, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and our fellow contractors. HMIS, comprised of global leaders Leidos, Centerra and Parsons, proudly serves as the Hanford sitewide integrator. In 2021, we consistently demonstrated the “One Hanford” philosophy, providing hundreds of specialized and essential services with an emphasis on integrating sitewide decisions from all stakeholders. This foundation helped establish much success in our first year and will guide HMIS for years to come. Ensuring safety and security is our No. 1 priority. Whether it’s our workforce, the environment or sitewide assets, HMIS plays a key role in the protection of Hanford. Our focus is broad – from the health of our workforce, especially through the pandemic, or safety during snowstorms, unprecedented heat waves
and high winds, to site security – HMIS offers best-in-class protection.
Integrated services HMIS provides and mainRobert Wilkinson tains reliable Hanford Mission power, water, Integration Solutions roads, information technology, emergency services, business systems, training and more, with a shared vision amongst DOE and our contractor partners on risk reduction and preparations to treat tank waste under the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program. By providing integrated services, we create solutions, connect the Hanford enterprise and deliver critical needs at the right time. As the site integrator, a significant highlight of 2021 was the start of construction on the Central Plateau Water Treatment Facility, a critical project to support DFLAW and decades of future cleanup on the Hanford site. The new facility, expected to be fully operational in 2023, will produce a minimum of 3.5 million gallons of clean water daily,
using low-pressure microfiltration technology. It will automate water services to support risk-reduction cleanup projects and operations to manage, treat and dispose of tank waste. In addition to a large volume of water, treating tank waste will require continuous, reliable energy to operate pumps and filters and keep melters heated, another crucial component of our site integrator scope. Recent upgrades to Hanford’s electrical infrastructure include modernizing miles of transmission and distribution lines, installing new cables and removing and replacing aging utility poles and conductors.
IT services Our information technology services support all Hanford operations and contractors and includes four networks, 1,250 servers, 1,800 applications and user support to nearly 9,000 Hanford workers. Support to DFLAW will include emergency management technology for an eventual one million gigabytes of data, more than 1,000 radios used daily and multiple external sirens for emergency notification. HMIS also will evolve and enhance the One Hanford mission with proven technologies and cutting-edge innovations to better support our Hanford
customers. Innovations will include numerous engineering, information management and reliability projects to support DFLAW and future cleanup needs. Improved mobile data capabilities and remote assistance will help those working in the field across the vast Hanford landscape. Virtual technology, easy to understand animations and software that blends the physical and digital worlds, will greatly improve the services we provide. Using the Hanford Governance Model and an upgraded and holistic business management platform, with a focus on the highest level of safety and ethics, HMIS facilitates a rapid and cohesive decision-making process. This is critical as the One Hanford team moves toward an increased pace of operations.
HAMMER center Providing essential training is another key component of the HMIS scope, ensuring cleanup operations can continue safely. At our Volpentest HAMMER Federal Training Center, the team provides innovative, hands-on training and expertise to cultivate a safe and highly skilled Hanford workforce. uHMIS, Page C16
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
HPMC OCCUPATIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES
HPMC works to improve, protect worker health at Hanford HPMC Occupational Medical Services (OMS) is managed by HPM Corporation, a local, woman-owned business that provides specialized services to federal government clients and their contractors. Founded in 2001, HPM Corporation has grown into a multi-disciplinary organization capable of providing programs and services in occupational medicine, environmental safety and health, risk communication, health data analysis and trends, health education and promotion, industrial rehabilitation and ergonomics, behavioral health services and project management. Our mission at HPMC OMS is to continuously improve occupational medical services for our patients, in collaboration with our stakeholders, while inspiring our staff to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. While this mission is still true, over the last two years our new mission became to protect our patients, staff, their families and the community from Covid-19. Our ability to maintain occupational medical services for essential personnel on site, as well as those teleworking off site, supports the Hanford cleanup mission by ensuring the health and well-being of Hanford workers.
The Covid team We met the challenge of Covid-19 by establishing and staffing a Covid team consisting of nurses and administrative staff that implemented on-site contact tracing, Covid testing and Covid vaccinations. We obtained approval from Washington state early in the pandemic to administer all three types of Covid-19 vaccines, including second and booster doses, to make it easier for Hanford site employees to get vaccinations. We have worked with the Benton-Franklin Health District to provide contact tracing for the workforce to quickly coordinate information on employees in isolation or quarantine. The team also developed general medical information on Covid, including a website, to provide employees with up-to-date information. Our staff also reached out to connect directly with site employees. HPMC OMS Risk Communicator Dr. Gary Hurwitz hosted weekly Teams meetings for workers to learn about the vaccines and get questions answered. Vaccine scheduling We partnered with Hanford Mission Integration Solutions to develop a scheduling application so eligible workers could easily make, change or cancel appointments for vaccinations at our on-site facilities.
The application went live in March 2021, and we have administered approximately 2,000 Covid-19 vaccinations to Hanford emHiram S. Whitmer ployees. HPMC Occupational In conjuncMedical Services tion with offering Covid-19 vaccines, we continue to administer the flu vaccine for employees. In 2021, we hosted several flu clinics across the site and provided approximately 2,000 doses of the flu vaccine.
Post-infection program Our company developed a Covid-19 work conditioning program that uses physical training to help Hanford workers restore their ability to work after a Covid-19 infection. Following an evaluation by an HPMC OMS nurse or medical provider, site employees participate in a 12-week program that focuses on the improvement of aerobic conditioning and progressive strengthening of muscles. At the end of the program, another evaluation is done to assess results. Wellness program kudos Our Health and Wellness Team earned silver level recognition for our employee wellness program, Own It!, from the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index, which recognizes organizations for their implementation of quality workplace health programs and a culture of best health practices. During the pandemic, the team saw a need for more employee engagement so expanded its services through live wellness webinars, workshops, virtual lunch-and-learn series and on-demand prerecorded presentations available online. These programs allowed employees to interact virtually with our staff so they could see their faces, hear their voices and have meaningful conversations. Audrey Wright, health education specialist, is one of 257 professionals across the country who have received the faculty designation in 2021 from the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA). This designation is earned by completing 24 hours of annual training and signifies commitment, leadership and expertise within this rapidly evolving field. Customer satisfaction Our company uses an in-house, web-based survey through SullivanLuallin to assess patient satisfaction with
our staff, facilities and services. This allows us to get feedback from each patient that walks through the door and takes the survey, and we use the feedback to manage the quality of our services. We are constantly exceeding national averages for patient satisfaction. At the end of the 2021 calendar year, patients gave our front desk staff an overall satisfaction rating of 99.5%, our health care team a 99.7% rating, and our facilities a 99.7% rating. Patients indicated their overall satisfaction level of interactions with us was 99.7%.
Making a difference We believe in the importance of building relationships and enhancing the lives of those in the communities we serve. We recognize the diverse interests of our region and the people who live here. We continue to engage our community stakeholders and recognize the value of community service to our business. We also are extremely proud of our staff who volunteer their knowledge, skill and experience with community, professional and educational boards and organizations. Because of pandemic restrictions, HPMC was unable to participate in any
in-person community events. However, the organization was able to support the surrounding community through financial donations and our annual holiday toy drive. Our team has hands-on experience in supporting clients who are addressing a wide range of occupational health issues. We have the knowledge and capability to develop comprehensive and compliant occupational medicine programs, deal with specific workplace health issues, and perform risk analysis and medical surveillance for virtually any work environment. We are committed to providing patients with the best care experience possible. We recognize that this involves going beyond providing the highest quality medical care and outcomes. Since our beginning, HPMC has developed not only business systems and infrastructure but professional knowledge and skill second-to-none in the small business community. We are proud of our growth and development and excited about our future success and expansion. Hiram S. Whitmer is president and program manager at HPMC Occupational Medical Services.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2022
HANFORD LABORATORY MANAGEMENT & INTEGRATION
HLMI provides analytical services to support cleanup mission April 15, 2021, marked the official start of work for Hanford Laboratory Management and Integration LLC (HLMI) as a new prime contractor for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear waste cleanup efforts on the Hanford site. To support DOE’s Hanford cleanup mission, HLMI assumed sole responsibility for operation of the 222-S Laboratory, a full-service accredited analytical radiochemical laboratory. The laboratory is in the center of the Hanford site and has served the Hanford mission for more than 70 years. Its original purpose was to provide process control analytical services in support of Hanford’s plutonium production mission. It then transitioned in the 1980s to the primary radiochemical lab supporting the Hanford site cleanup mission. The lab has been modernized over the years through multiple infrastructure upgrades, and HLMI has incorporated new employee training programs to ensure the staff is uniquely qualified to safely
handle the highly radioactive materials the lab is responsible for analyzing. HLMI is a limited liability corporation formed by two Don Hardy small businessHLMI es, Navarro Research and Engineering Inc., and Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International Inc. The combination of these companies provides HLMI with the human resources and capital to ensure we consistently provide high-quality data to other Hanford contractors in support of the site cleanup mission. We at HLMI are proud to be a valuable member of the One Hanford team providing low-risk solutions to the complex challenges associated with remediating the Hanford site. Since contract inception, HLMI has
supported critical Hanford operations with timely laboratory analysis and reporting, operated the facility in full compliance with environmental regulatory and permit requirements, and implemented improvements and efficiencies in waste minimization processes that have resulted in cost savings and reduced worker and environmental risks. In addition, HLMI’s technical staff have developed innovative new processes to reduce turnaround times associated with the analysis and data reporting that support highly radioactive sampling projects. By doing so, HLMI is enabling the One Hanford mission to achieve its commitments to the community and stakeholders. Examples include performing characterization testing to ensure waste transfers can be performed safely and support a robust tank integrity program, and providing industrial hygiene sample analysis that assists in worker safety. In the coming year, HLMI is especially excited to continue supporting Han-
ford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program and preparations to treat tank waste by immobilizing it in a glass form, called vitrification. One of the ways the lab is supporting those preparations is by producing small, laboratory scale batches of vitrified materials, using liquids that mimic the properties of tank waste that has been treated to remove radioactive cesium and solids. A glass-forming mixture of materials and liquid simulants is heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a glass sample. Through this process, we’re able to verify that our people, equipment and processes are ready to support conducting small-batch tests with real waste from the large underground tank that will feed waste to the vitrification plant when treatment operations begin. Don Hardy is lab manager at Hanford Laboratory Management and Integration LLC.
WRPS, From page C11
initiatives that we believe improve the quality of life for all of us who call the Mid-Columbia region home. We live in a great community and remain fortunate to be able to execute this mission that is important to us all. We faced several obstacles in 2021. I am proud to say we not only overcame them; we greatly exceeded them through resilience, determination and
pure grit. With this attitude and proof of performance, we’ve set the foundation for a tremendous 2022, advancing sitewide 24/7 waste treatment operations, waste retrieval, infrastructure upgrades and supporting the small businesses and community organizations that make this region so special. John Eschenberg is president and
chief executive officer of Washington River Protection Solutions.
be of value. Landscapers may disagree, but basalt itself is not a valuable resource. How do geologists know so much about the miles of material underground? Drilling. Lots and lots of drilling. More than 11,000 holes have been drilled at Hanford since the 1940s. About 4,000 are still used for monitoring, Bjornstad said. The holes serve up data about subsurface geology and more practically, about the current cleanup mission. “You need a lot of wells to understand how contaminants move over time,” he said. Decommissioned holes or wells are filled
and sealed to keep them from inadvertently becoming new corridors for waste. Nonscientists can see the evidence of the old lava flows in the basalt outcrops at Sentinel Gap, near Desert Aire, and at Wallula Gap, east of the Tri-Cities, where the upper 1,500 feet is visible. The White Cliffs of the Hanford Reach National Monument – or in Hanford terms, across from the 100D area – offer another glimpse of the results of uplift and deposits.
For more videos about the geology of Hanford and the Northwest, check out Nick Zentner, a Central Washington University geology professor who has attracted a global audience with his instructional videos on YouTube and at nickzentner.com. For his two-minute take on The White Bluffs at Hanford Reach, go to: bit.ly/ NickZentnerWhiteBluffs. For an exploration of how basalt columns form in nature, go to: bit.ly/NickZentnerColumbiaBasalts. For a lecture on the impacts of lava and floods on Eastern Washington, go to: bit.ly/ NickZentnerLavaFloodLecture.
dedicated and knowledgeable workforce – the HMIS family, as we often call ourselves. Attracting and retaining this workforce requires a focus on internal employee development, including training and mentoring programs that expand and enhance skills. We are committed to cultivating the next generation workforce through robust internship programs, scholarships and educational support to community partners.
beyond our workforce and positively affects the community around us. Through volunteerism and corporate donations, as well as workforce investment, we are committed to improving our local quality of life. Looking to 2022 and beyond, we will continue to deliver mission integration, introduce new innovations and technologies and drive improvement of essential service delivery to enable the One Hanford cleanup mission. As the Hanford site prepares for 24/7 operations and waste treatment, HMIS will continue to strive for efficiencies and improvements across Hanford in
its role as site integrator and essential services provider. With a collaborative approach, we will implement reliability projects to upgrade and right-size infrastructure, focus on safety, provide world-class training, and bring the best in innovation and technology. Our success is only possible with the partnership, support and success of DOE, our fellow contractors and the community, and we look forward to serving all of you for years to come.
or key contributor of the DOE Hanford cleanup mission without our community partners. Since the beginning of our contract in 2008, we have issued more than $1.8 billion in subcontracts to businesses in Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties. We also have donated more than $8 million to programs and GEOLOGIST, From page C13 20,000 years ago, with water released from Lake Missoula temporarily pooling behind Wallula Gap and leaving a trail of debris carried in icebergs – and the occasional drowned mammoth – in its wake. Windblown deposits have been filling in the valleys and holes ever since. With all the lava and flood-born debris in the region, it is natural to ask: Did Mother Nature lay down anything that is commercially viable? Not so much, Bjornstad said. No precious metals have been discovered at Hanford. Basalts have trace amounts of metals, but not concentrated enough to HMIS, From page C14 Life-size props and settings allow training in a safe, realistic environment to meet evolving challenges at Hanford. HAMMER’s pandemic response and focus on safety earned a 2021 Safety & Health Outreach Award from the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association, recognizing dedication of the staff, worker trainers and subcontractors to successfully retool, restart and safely deliver critical training during the pandemic.
Workforce We know our people are our most valuable asset, and we value this diverse,
A giving culture The well-being of our community is vital to the HMIS family and the One Hanford mission. HMIS has created a company culture of giving that spreads
To learn more The Washington Department of Ecology posts Let’s Talk About Hanford programs to its YouTube page.
Editor’s note: John Eschenberg will leave Washington River Protection Solutions in May for a position at Central Plateau Cleanup Co., where he is succeeding Scott Sax, who is retiring. Eschenberg will be succeeded at WRPS by Wes Bryan.
Robert Wilkinson is president of Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS).