HANFORD A specialty publication of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
(509) 737-8778 8919 W. Grandridge Blvd., Ste. A1 Kennewick, WA 99336 tcjournal.biz
STAFF Melanie Hair CEO 509-737-8778 ext. 5 email@example.com
Kristina Lord Publisher 509-737-8778 ext. 3 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Culverwell Editor 509-737-8778 ext. 6 email@example.com
Tiffany Lundstrom Advertising Director 509-737-8778 ext. 2 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chad Utecht Advertising Account Manager 509-737-8778 ext. 1 email@example.com
Vanessa Guzmán Graphic Designer 509-737-8778 ext. 4 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business, a publication of TriComp Inc., is published monthly and delivered at no charge to identifiable businesses in Pasco, Richland, West Richland, Kennewick, Prosser and Benton City. Subscriptions are $27.10 per year, including tax, prepayment required, no refunds. Contents of this publication are the sole property of TriComp Inc. and can not be reproduced in any form without expressed written consent. Opinions expressed in guest columns and by advertisers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of staff, other columnists or other advertisers, nor do they imply endorsement by staff, columnists or advertisers. Every effort will be made to assure information published is correct; however, we are not liable for any errors or omissions made despite these efforts.
Hanford drives Tri-City economy
Former Hanford land will give developers the massive lots they crave
Multibillion dollar Hanford contracts in limbo
New construction, demolition waste treatment mark signs of progress
Longtime Hanford Communities leader to retire
Behind-the-scene workers manage massive warehouses
GUEST COLUMNS U.S. Department of Energy
Washington Department of Ecology
Bechtel National Inc.
Washington River Protection Solutions
CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Co.
Mission Support Alliance
Veolia Nuclear Solutions
HPM Corp. Occupational Medical Services
On cover: Photos courtesy Bechtel National Inc.
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
One Hanford team working on project of the century Hanford is one of this country’s greatest public works projects, both during a national security mission that lasted for more than four decades in the last century and during its current cleanup mission. Just as our Hanford workforce overcame challenges to deliver for our nation in the past, we are proudly delivering safe, efficient and effective cleanup progress and risk reduction today through teamwork, dedication and innovation. Our overall cleanup strategy has consistently focused on reducing risks to the Columbia River as we work to establish the capability to treat tank waste on the site’s Central Plateau. In parallel, we have established a strong tank integrity program to ensure the safe stewardship of the waste until treated and a robust infrastructure program to ensure that the utilities and services required to fulfill our mission are ready and reliable, tailored to our needs as the site evolves. Preparing for the treatment of tank waste is a high priority for the U.S. Department of Energy and contractor team as we approach the start of treatment through the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste initiative. The program represents a sitewide effort made up of not only the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, but also interdependent systems and supporting infrastructure that must operate together to treat the
waste at an operational pace not required on the site since the time of the national security mission. Our sitewide transition to tank waste treatment involves the entire Hanford team. It’s our goal that every person working on the site proudly Brian Vance recognizes their many contriU.S. Department butions to an effort that is so of Energy important to the Tri-Cities and the Pacific Northwest. Our recent One Hanford initiative is at the center of the site cultural transformation and is intended to foster a unity of purpose that is crucial to sustaining the important progress being delivered. Looking back at the past year, our progress has created the conditions that support our transition to roundthe-clock operations. Our team finished transferring 35 cubic yards of highly radioactive sludge from a nuclear reactor basin near the Columbia River to safe interim storage on the Central Plateau. We stabilized an aging waste storage tunnel by filling it with engineered grout, eliminating the risk of a future
collapse and the potential to spread contamination. We also treated more than 2.4 billion gallons of groundwater, removing nearly 90 tons of contaminants. We resumed retrievals to transfer tank waste to newer double-shell tanks, and we continued the progress at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, completing startup testing of the laboratory facility and welcoming more than two-thirds of the commissioning technicians who test systems that will support vitrification. Looking forward, we will complete several major projects to prepare the site to start treating tank waste. In the next two years, we will advance toward treatment operations as we complete the bulk of the construction projects in our Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste initiative and focus on starting up and commissioning facilities. We will stabilize aging plutonium-production structures, eliminating the potential to spread contamination from those structures. We also will continue treating groundwater across the Hanford site to remove contamination and protect the Columbia River. We are making several shifts and transitions at the site, but perhaps the biggest change is the transition to three major new contracts that encompass most of the uDEPT. OF ENERGY, Page B12
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
Hanford drives Tri-City economy—but not as much as it once did By Robin Wojtanik
for Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Tri-City residents continue to reap the benefits from continued cleanup work at the Hanford site years after plutonium production ceased. Hanford spending supports about two jobs for every employee hired with federal dollars. “The whole community benefits substantially, regardless of whether you’re a car dealership in Pasco, a restaurant in West Richland, or a real estate agent in south Kennewick,” said David Reeploeg, vice president for federal programs at the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC). “I think most industries in the Tri-Cities benefit from the fact that we do have the Hanford and (Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory)-related, Department of Energy-related employment in the region.” The current fiscal year funding allocates about $2.5 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy toward the Hanford site and about $1 billion for PNNL, operated by Battelle. Combined, this amounts to about $1.5 billion in employee wages across nearly 150 companies for related employment, including all prime and subprime contractors. “Every job that is funded by the federal spending at the Hanford reservation and the lab, supports around two jobs in the local community,” said Ajsa Suljic, regional labor economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department.
“This employment cluster related to DOE federal funding represents about 11.3 percent of total covered employment in the region and about 23.4 percent of total payroll/wages,” Suljic said. It is the third largest employing cluster in the region, coming right after government (public administration, education and health care) and private health care services. A decade ago the “Hanford cluster” represented 16.6 percent of total employment and 34 percent of wages. For the total employment in the region, the average annual salary across Benton and Franklin counties is $51,619. When analyzing work related only to federally-funded jobs, including PNNL and prime and subprime contractors, the
average annual salary jumps to $106,000. “The spending power of the average ‘Hanford cluster’ worker, including the lab, is two times of a total average worker for the area,” Suljic said. This can have a trickle-down effect, supporting local hospitality and tourism industries through an increase in expendable income. “When compared to other (metropolitan statistical areas) our size in Washington, our prevailing wages are higher, and the reason why is the influence of different federal programs that pay at a higher rate,” said Karl Dye, president and chief executive officer for TRIDEC. “The impact of those higher wages for federal contracts means the other people have to pay maybe a little bit higher wage uECONOMY, Page B6
Courtesy Bechtel National Inc.
The current fiscal year funding allocates about $2.5 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy toward the Hanford site. Pictured is the Effluent Management Facility that will process secondary liquid offgas produced during low-activity waste vitrification.
DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY
State stays focused on cleanup to protect future generations In the spring, Tri-City community members with science backgrounds are called upon to help judge science fairs, teach at Salmon Summit and educate the public at the Hanford Health and Safety Expo. Our Nuclear Waste Program, one of the agencies overseeing Hanford cleanup, usually supports those events in force. Not this year, of course. The global COVID-19 pandemic has waylaid all of those public events. Washington state employees were directed to telecommute, if possible, well before Gov. Jay Inslee issued his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. State information technology staff have done an outstanding job ensuring that your public servants still can perform essential work. Our program, which oversees the mixed and chemical waste cleanup at Hanford, went from a handful of staff who worked from home on occasion, to a closed office with only a few staff on hand in case a need arises.
A time to reflect: what matters most This pause in our normal routine creates an interesting opportunity to evaluate our lives – what’s important, what isn’t. As environmental regulators, the Washington Department of Ecology ensures that air, land and water resources are protected for people and wildlife.
Many on our program team can work on permitting, or read and respond to reports from their dining room office. Inspectors and those who perform regular field work must now assess what is essential, and what work can wait. Our partners at the U.S. Alex Smith Department of Energy have Washington suspended activities on site to Department what they deem “min-safe,” of Ecology the level of maintenance and supervision required to prevent equipment failure or a lapse in safety. In our work to clean up Hanford as guided by Tri-Party Agreement (TPA) milestones, we rarely talk about long-term stewardship or institutional controls at Hanford. We rarely articulate how decisions made today will impact people 100, 500 or 1,000 years from now. For example, the 2012 Hanford Tank Closure Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement calculated that if waste isn’t removed from Hanford tanks, it could reach groundwater in a few hundred years, and from there eventually into the Columbia River at unsafe levels. This is why the state will not back down on the
requirement to remove as much waste as possible from tanks and turn it into glass for long-term storage.
Soil contaminants will migrate While groundwater pump and treat is proving successful at reducing some contamination plumes, other contaminants remain. By some estimates, there are about 450,000 curies of radioactivity in the vadose zone (the area between the surface and groundwater) under Hanford’s Central Plateau. Stronger rain events, projected to be brought on by climate change, could drive contaminants to the groundwater sooner. Areas will remain where we don’t have the technology to clean the soil. As buildings are demolished, debris is packaged and sent to the huge Hanford landfill, the Environmental Restoration and Disposal Facility (ERDF). When it is closed, an engineered cover, or cap, designed to prevent rain or snow from pushing contamination to the soil and groundwater will be installed over ERDF. The manmade plateau will likely be “restored” – covered with native grasses. Regardless, it will require some oversight for hundreds of years. Protecting future generations When we make cleanup decisions, they must be
uDEPT. OF ECOLOGY, Page B12
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
Former Hanford land will give developers the massive lots they crave By Wendy Culverwell email@example.com
Industrial developers will get a shot at buying sites 200 acres and larger in north Richland as soon as next year. It’s been five years since the U.S. Department of Energy transferred 1,600-plus acres from the Hanford reservation to TriCity control for eventual development. It’s been four years since most of it came under the control of the city of Richland and Port of Benton, which are tasked with attracting non-Hanford employers to set up shop. After years of planning, the site now known as the North Horn Rapids Area could be formally marketed for manufacturing, energy and other uses starting in 2021, said Diahann Howard, the port’s executive director. North Horn Rapids has a big role to play in the Mid-Columbia’s economic future. The city and port envision a business park populated by private businesses that will further the cause of an economic base that’s less reliant on federal spending on the Hanford cleanup. When it opens, North Horn Rapids will be unique in the Pacific Northwest. Developable industrial land is in short supply. There are no industrial lots available in the 200-acre and up range in Washington or Oregon, according to a search of LoopNet, an online commercial real estate listing service. The outsized lots inspire dreams of manufacturing, food processing, energy, science and tech businesses, all adding good-paying jobs in the Tri-Cities. “As we move forward, the North Horn
Rapids area is our future to support regional economic development efforts,” Howard said. The former Hanford property is generally north of Horn Rapids Road between Kingsgate Road to the west and Stevens Drive to the east. It parallels the Columbia River, which is to the east, for a little over two miles. The land had been in federal ownership since 1943, when it was incorporated into the Hanford site in support of the Manhattan project. DOE transferred 1,641 acres to the TriCity Development Council (TRIDEC) in late 2015. The following year, TRIDEC transferred 760 acres to the port and 581 to the city. An additional 300 acres were reserved for Energy Northwest for a solar installation, which remains undeveloped. The city and port own side-by-side slices of the site, but are collaborating on planning for infrastructure, roads and other pre-development concerns. J-U-B Engineers, a Tri-City consultant, completed a master plan in April 2017, paid for with a $50,000 planning grant from the Washington Department of Commerce’s Community Economic Revitalization Board and $25,000 each from the city and port. The master plan lays out future roads and utilities to maximize lot sizes and analyzes the capacity of local water, sewer, gas and transportation system to handle increased demand. Building roads and extending city water and sewer service will cost roughly $44 million in 2020 dollars, adjusted for inflation. Funding sources could include grants, proceeds from land sales, tax increment
Photo by Wendy Culverwell The Port of Benton and city of Richland could formally market the North Horn Rapids area for industrial development in 2021. Map courtesy Port of Benton.
financing, forming a local improvement district and public-private developer agreements. The master plan provides a blueprint for future development, as well as guidance on the zoning that will support the job-heavy industries the port and city crave. The 43-page document is posted at bit.ly/bentonmasterplan. The master plan was a key step toward marketing the site to target industry, but there’s one step left. Howard said restrictions on the deed demanded a closer look at how stormwater will be managed on a portion of the land. Aspect Consulting, a Northwest firm focused on water, is conducting the review. When its work is complete, North Horn Rapids will be ready for marketing, although the port has informally marketed the property since the master plan was completed. The sales pitch will be directed at busi-
nesses needing 200 to 500 acres for clean manufacturing, agriculture and food processing, energy and bioscience, among others. “This property is important for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is to create jobs, most likely a lot of livingwage jobs,” said Amanda Wallner, marketing specialist in Richland’s economic development office. The North Horn Rapids master plan anticipates it will take two to three decades to fully develop the oddly shaped site with irregular boundaries. Its footprint resembles a dinosaur shape—a blocky head, thin neck, triangular body and three legs. It straddles the Richland urban growth boundary. The area inside the city’s boundary is zoned for light industrial use while the area in the county is generally zoned to support Hanford activities.
Vit plant drives for more progress in 2020 The vit plant entered this new decade looking different than ever before. And we are well positioned for another transformational year in 2020. We are driving toward spring 2021 when we will heat up the first of two melters inside the Low-Activity Waste Valerie McCain (LAW) Facility at Hanford’s Bechtel National Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP). We are on pace to vitrify low-activity waste through the U.S. Department of Energy’s direct-feed LAW program by the end of 2023. By the end of this year, we will have finished the testing needed for systems in the LAW Facility for melter heat up. We will have completed the remaining LAW construction and construction of the Effluent Management Facility (EMF) while closing out testing in 14 support facilities.
Managing the plant We continue to build our workforce for commissioning and eventual sustained operations. Last year we opened the doors to a commissioning workforce at an annex connected to the LAW Facility.
We adopted a 24/7 shift schedule with 22 commissioning technicians, eight supervisors and four engineers. The site gradually will build up its 24/7 rotating shift work to nearly 350 employees over the next year. These technicians successfully completed their fundamentals training and have been training at the annex on the WTP systems and direct-feed LAW operations. Training is comprised of a multitude of subjects, including teamwork, communications and human performance improvement fundamentals. Commissioning technicians also receive training on more than 200 separate systems in the LAW Facility, EMF, analytical laboratory and other support facilities.
Confirming standards met Last fall, the first team of chemists set up shop at the analytical laboratory where they will perform the first scientific work needed to support treatment of Hanford tank waste. The laboratory’s key function is to confirm that glass produced in the LAW Facility meets regulatory requirements and standards. Once waste treatment operations begin, the laboratory will analyze about 3,000 samples each year. We appreciated the opportunity to leverage facilities at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, where the chemists initially set up the instruments and began building the
necessary programs. The chemists represent another group of permanent positions to support plant commissioning, along with 95 commissioning technicians who work in the control room and throughout the plant. The team is broader than Bechtel, Amentum or the Waste Treatment Completion Company. We collaborate with DOE, the Washington Department of Ecology and other Hanford contractors, as well as our subcontractors and suppliers. In fiscal year 2019, we awarded $145 million in contracts to small and large businesses, including small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses and others. Nearly $67 million, or 62.5 percent, was spent in Washington and Oregon, with about $39 million of that remaining in the Tri-Cities. It’s an exciting time to be at the vit plant. We are making history. Our 3,000 workers are committed to their community and completing their work safely and with quality. I look forward to the coming year of celebrating the next phase of progress toward completion. Valerie McCain is principal vice president and project director for Bechtel National Inc.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
ECONOMY, From page B3 than they would to compete for talent, so it increases the prevailing wage,” he said. Reeploeg said that in 2018, the average annual wage for a Hanford-related job was between $75,000 to $95,000. The average wage in Washington was $61,896 in 2016, according to the state’s Office of Financial Management. The Tri-Cities is better off for its Hanford influence, whether a person works directly at the site or not, partly due to those higher wages. “We have people who live here who can afford to spend an evening at a local winery or bring family from out of town to go wine tasting,” Reeploeg said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we still had large wine production (without Hanford nearby), but I don’t know if we would have as much wine tourism.” The Hanford effect also is spread wider across the region than it once was, as more wage earners choose to live throughout the Tri-Cities instead of strictly near their job site. “I think it’s pretty well understood that 40 years ago, the vast majority of the Hanford workforce lived and worked in Richland or West Richland, and now we’re seeing more and more of the Hanford workforce living in south Kennewick or west Pasco or other parts of the community. All you have to do is look at the bypass highway at 4:30 p.m.,” Reeploeg said. As the home base for the workforce continues to diversify, so do the businesses that support the site. Economic experts say that while many businesses in the region started off doing work directly connected to the Hanford site, that has changed, and
Courtesy MSA Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance partners with local organizations and high schools to assist with mock interviews and résumé building. These partnerships help prepare students and job seekers for real-world scenarios in seeking internships and other employment opportunities.
they are now less reliant on federal dollars to survive. “There’s a couple of companies I’m familiar with that maybe started doing 90 or 100 percent of their work as DOE-funded and Hanford-related subcontracts. Now, they’ve been retaining that same level of work, but it only represents 10 or 20 percent of their total work portfolio,” Reeploeg said. “They’ve expanded and broadened their customer base in other areas so that if that DOE funding was to go away, they’re still a viable, local company.” DOE dollars are still a critical piece of the economy, and TRIDEC plays a large part in demonstrating the need for continued robust funding, often helping secure more than is originally suggested by the White House administration during a bud-
get cycle. Reeploeg said Hanford has received $1.275 billion more in federal funding in the past decade than what was initially requested first by former President Barack Obama and then by President Donald Trump. While the local economy still relies on this federal support, “I think the diversification of the economy and the growth of the overall population dilutes the impact of DOE funding from year to year,” Dye said. This hasn’t happened by accident, say those responsible for monitoring the local economy. “It’s been a very intentional effort over decades and decades and decades by TRIDEC and our ports and the cities and counties and the community as a whole to grow and diversify outside of being so depen-
dent on federal money,” Reeploeg said. “We’re not there yet. We’re still dependent upon it as an economy, but we’re continuing to be intentional and reduce that need every year.” While the dependence remains, the site is no longer the exclusive economic driver it once was. Those bygone times stay fresh in the minds of those who grew up in the Tri-Cities, including Reeploeg. “I remember my third-grade class wrote letters to President Reagan asking him to keep the N Reactor operational. It was a community-wide effort because it was the lifeblood of the economy at the time.” Those who support or seek services from local nonprofits also are aided by Hanford contractors, which give back to the community as part of their local mission. Donations have reached the tens of millions for companies and employee-led fundraisers. The Hanford workforce often volunteers time or resources to charities such as the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation, Children’s Developmental Center, United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties, Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties, Children’s Reading Foundation, Second Harvest, Union Gospel Mission, STEM Foundation, Junior Achievement, Toys for Tots, Meals on Wheels, Salvation Army, Relay for Life, YMCA of the Greater Tri-Cities, Friends of Badger Mountain, Washington State University Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College.
WASHINGTON RIVER PROTECTION SOLUTIONS
Tank farm waste cleanup helps pave ‘path to glass’ Now in our 12th year as Hanford’s tank operations contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is honored and proud of the legacy it has built in advancing the nation’s largest and most complex environmental cleanup mission. On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, WRPS has protected the environment and the public by safely managing 56 million gallons of highly radioactive nuclear waste in 177 underground tanks. Today, we are One Hanford, marching in lockstep with DOE and other Hanford contractors in paving the “path to glass” toward waste treatment and disposal in glass form. Over the past 12 years, WRPS has introduced a new level of rigor and discipline in tank farm work processes. The WRPS Conduct of Operations program has continuously sharpened on-the-job practices, refined our processes and automated many tasks to improve safety, reduce costs and gain efficiencies. As a result, the company has been recognized internationally for outstanding project management.
Notable cleanup progress For most of our contract, the tank farms team has focused on removing and transferring waste from older single-shell tanks to more robust double-shell tanks. Removing waste from the single-shell tanks— which have long since passed their original design life —is one of the most complex challenges in the DOE
complex. To date, we’ve completed waste removal from 18 underground tanks, and we are on the cusp of completing retrieval in the 19th tank, AX102. Then, we start removing waste from Tank AX-104 to complete a legally enforceable John Eschenberg milestone by June 2021, with Washington River plans to address six additional Protection Solutions tanks in A Farm in the years that follow. With tank retrieval as a cornerstone of our mission, our heightened focus is on building a waste delivery system to help achieve DOE’s goal of beginning waste treatment by the end of 2023. Today, we are constructing a system that will separate cesium and undissolved solids from radioactive tank waste, providing a low-activity waste stream to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) for making glass. For waste feed delivery and other tank farms projects to run smoothly, upgrading critical infrastructure is paramount. One of our major successes this past year was improvements made at the Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF), where we processed 3.4 million gallons of wastewater. ETF will support WTP operations for years to come.
A formula for success WRPS prides itself on looking ahead, thinking creatively and delivering solutions. We continue to be recognized for our innovative tools and approaches that improve worker safety and project efficiency. This included addressing a long legacy of chemical vapor issues at the tank farms by drawing on the expertise of the national laboratories and other experts to implement a comprehensive risk-based strategy to protect workers. Another example is the development of dynamic inspection capabilities and technologies that allow us to better evaluate structural integrity of our carbon steel tanks. For the first time, WRPS successfully performed under-tank inspections using robotic tools that resemble miniature Transformers. How do we accomplish so much in an extremely hazardous and challenging environment? Our people. WRPS’ nearly 3,000 employees work hard, work smart and work safely. They plan each job thoroughly, address potential hazards and use the most effective tools to get the job done right. It’s why WRPS ranks as the safest cleanup contractor in the DOE Environmental Management complex. Partnering with clients, contractors and the community. uWRPS, Page B12
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
Multibillion-dollar Hanford contracts in limbo By Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
The status of a handful of the major contracts remains up in the air at the Hanford site, the U.S. Department of Energy’s most challenging cleanup complex. Two contracts awarded in December 2019 were protested to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and two other contracts have yet to be awarded, with no timelines announced in early April.
Central Plateau Cleanup Contract The contract covering remediation of the central plateau was awarded to Central Plateau Cleanup Co., a joint venture made up of AECOM, Atkins and Fluor. The 10-year, $10 billion contract focuses on decontamination and demolition of buildings, excavation of waste sites, groundwater cleanup and management of transuranic waste. The current $6.8 billion contract being replaced is the Plateau Remediation Contract held by CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., owned by Jacobs Engineering Group, to oversee cleanup across the Hanford site, including groundwater, but not tank waste. CHPRC has held the contract since 2008. It is operating under a one-year extension that expires at the conclusion of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2020. Project W Restoration, a bidder, lodged a protest to the Central Plateau Cleanup
bid award in January 2020. Project W is led by Bechtel National Inc., the same company that holds the multibillion-dollar contract to build the massive Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) now under construction at the Hanford site. The GAO typically issues decisions on protests within 100 days, though they often are made in advance of the deadline. A conclusion could be announced as late as May and would either uphold or dismiss the protest. If upheld, a solicitation to rebid could be ordered. The Central Plateau Cleanup Contract is one of two being awarded using a new “end state contracting model” designed to balance the risk between the contractor and the federal government. DOE officials previously said this allows the federal government to “be a fair and demanding customer” of its contractors.
Tank Closure Contract DOE solicited bids for a $13 billion, 10-year Tank Closure Contract more than a year ago. It is the second contract that will be awarded with the end state model. DOE has not announced the winner of the contract and won’t share information on anticipated timing for its decision. The new contract will replace the Tank Operations Contract, currently held by Washington River Protection Solutions. The WRPS contract was extended to September 2020.
Courtesy Veolia Nuclear Solutions Veolia Nuclear Solutions – Federal Services oversees the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility on the Hanford site.
WRPS focuses on the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in underground tanks at the site. Adding the word “closure” to the new contract reflects a plan to close the tanks once waste is eventually processed.
Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract A second major contract also was announced in December 2019. The current Mission Support Contract, held by Mission Support Alliance, was set to expire in May 2020.
It will be replaced by the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract, valued at $4 billion and awarded to Hanford Mission Integration Solutions, a new team made up of Centerra, Leidos and Parsons. Mission Support Alliance is owned by Leidos and Centerra. In March 2020, DOE extended its contract with Mission Support Alliance for six months, from May 26, 2020, through November 25, 2020, with a six-month option. If the option is exercised it would exuCONTRACTS, Page B14
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
New construction, demolition, waste treatment mark signs of progress By Robin Wojtanik
for Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Hanford’s major contractors continue to make significant achievements at the site, including demolitions, new con-
struction and wastewater treatment as part of ongoing cleanup efforts. A major accomplishment was celebrated in winter 2020 with the demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant’s main processing facility, a result of work
by CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Co. (CHPRC). The project 20 years in the making now includes work to remove rubble, safely test soil and cover building slabs. Progress on the Bechtel National-built
Courtesy Bechtel National Inc. Aerial of the Low-Activity Waste Facility at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, known as the vit plant.
Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility has continued with the opening of the facility’s annex, as well as completion of the startup and testing phases of more than 90 percent of the systems within it. The annex includes a control room. Future waste retrieval will be assisted by Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) systems, designed to treat 5 million to 7 million gallons of waste yearly through the Effluent Treatment Facility. Seventy percent of the DFLAW systems have been turned over to the startup phase at the future site of the world’s largest radioactive treatment facility, the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, known as the vit plant, also under construction by Bechtel. At the start of the cleanup in 1989, nothing existed that could treat underground tank waste. And just one method existed to retrieve waste from the tanks successfully. Now, 18 technologies exist and waste has been retrieved from 18 tanks, with one more underway. At the onset of cleanup, 177 underground tanks held dangerous waste, with 67 presumed to have leaked. The original 56 million gallons of waste have now been reduced or transferred to double-shell tanks, designed to hold the waste more securely.
uCLEANUP, Page B9
CH2M HILL PLATEAU REMEDIATION CO.
Hanford cleanup progress sets stage for future success Our team at CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Co. (CHPRC) recently marked a historic accomplishment in Hanford’s cleanup mission with the safe completion of demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant’s main processing facility. The removal of this iconic building – once so critical to Hanford’s production mission – forever changes the landscape at Hanford and reduces risk across the site. This is just one example of our progress at Hanford. During more than 11 years working on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), we left the groundwater cleaner and advanced protection of the Columbia River by remediating hundreds of waste sites and demolishing hundreds of buildings – significantly contributing to the vision of safely shrinking the area of active cleanup for the Hanford site to the central plateau. These achievements underscore how far Hanford cleanup has come since the primary mission changed from production to waste management and environmental cleanup in 1989. Today, we look to build upon the progress made and lessons learned over the past three decades to ensure a final cleanup that is protective for generations to come. As our current contract nears completion, our commitment to advancing Hanford cleanup remains strong. Our workers are preparing for future cleanup by completing the necessary and challenging steps to prepare the 324 Building for eventual demolition, deactivate and place the last reactor along the Columbia River into interim safe storage, provide environmentally safe disposition of low-activity vitrified waste from the Waste Treatment and Immobilization
Plant, and further develop the systems and processes needed to transfer highly radioactive cesium and strontium capsules from underwater storage at the Waste Encapsulation Storage Facility to safer dry storage. Our team recognizes the Ty Blackford achievement of Hanford’s CH2M HILL Plateau mission requires a strong Remediation Co. partnership not only with DOE and our fellow contractors, but also our community, stakeholders and the incredible workforce that call the Columbia Basin region home. Pride and engagement in our cleanup mission by the people getting it done every day is the One Hanford initiative. We cannot overemphasize the value of our small-business partners. We worked closely with them throughout this journey and have enjoyed seeing them grow their businesses. Since 2008, we’ve invested nearly $3 billion in more than 250 local small businesses. We’re also committed to the Tri-City community, emphasizing the development of the next generation of Hanford workers. Through our Highway to Hanford initiative, we promote opportunities to bring the next generation of workers to Hanford and enhance a healthy quality of life and diversity in our community. Our employees have volunteered in schools and brought students to
our projects, underscoring the importance of science, technology, engineering and math skills. We connected those skills to all careers at Hanford, and in doing so, helped students see the opportunities to benefit their community and protect this region for the future. CHPRC has, and will continue to be, a community partner in other ways. You will feel our impact if you hike Badger or Candy Mountain and see the monuments commemorating the Hanford workforce. Our support for a wide range of community organizations has helped children learn to read, built homes and provided opportunities for people of differing abilities to reach their full potential. Whatever the activity, our fantastic employees volunteered more than 15,000 hours during our contract. They will tell you they received more from the experience than they ever imagined. The past 11 years have been exciting, challenging and immensely rewarding for CHPRC employees past and present, and our progress sets the stage for future success. We are proud of our achievements not only as a company, but also as part of a much larger Hanford community all dedicated to a common goal – the safe, efficient and effective completion of the Hanford cleanup mission. Ty Blackford is president and chief executive officer of CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Co.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
Courtesy CHPRC Since 2008, workers have removed more than 90 structures associated with the Plutonium Finishing Plant. By 2020, the buildings were gone, reducing a significant risk to workers, the public and the environment.
CLEANUP, From page B8 Clearing the waste will be aided by the $17 billion plant, which Bechtel recently closed out the design phase for, including completion of all startup and testing activities in the areas described as the “backbone” of the plant. This includes structures that are part of the project. The contractor is working toward a goal of processing low-activity waste by 2023. In recent months, radioactive sludge held at the K West Reactor was successfully transferred to T Plant for interim storage, an accomplishment that came three months ahead of schedule for a milestone memorialized in the Tri-Party Agreement, a contract outlining cleanup deadlines at the site. When the 35 cubic yards of highly radioactive sludge were fully relocated to the new plant through efforts by CHPRC, Hanford site Manager Brian Vance of the U.S. Department of Energy called the project a “critical step” on the path to reduce Hanford’s annual operating costs, which top $2 billion yearly. Since cleanup began, the Department of Energy also can tout overall accomplishments in terms of millions and billions when referring to the amount of soil removed and water treated within the Hanford area. This includes 18.5 million tons of soil or debris moved from 2,000 waste sites to a landfill designed to receive the contaminated material, as well as 22 billion gallons of groundwater treated. In addition, one billion gallons of contaminated groundwater were treated in the first five months of fiscal year 2019. This accomplishment by CHPRC helped the contractor get more than halfway to its goal of 1.8 billion gallons treated for the full year. Cleaning the groundwater has resulted in more than 577 tons of contamination removed from a scope of more than 100 square miles at the site. Since operations began in 2012 at Hanford’s largest groundwater treatment site, the 200 West Pump and Treat Facility, CHPRC workers removed one million pounds of nitrate from the groundwater. The contractor points to cost-savings efforts at the same facility for recently reducing expenses to their lowest per-gallon
amount since 2013. Additionally, the Effluent Treatment Facility far exceeded its goal of treating wastewater received from the Liquid Effluent Retention Facility. Expected to treat two million gallons of wastewater in a year’s time, removing radioactive and hazardous contaminants, the facility actually treated 3.4 million gallons instead. Hanford waste intended for vitrification must first be evaluated. This will happen at the Analytical Laboratory, part of the vit plant site constructed by Bechtel. In recent months, it was a big step to move chemists and scientific instrumentation into the laboratory to begin developing methods to evaluate samples. Bechtel also completed construction of all major portions of the Effluent Management Facility, which allowed the Hanford contractor to begin testing systems. Over time, DOE contractors have moved all spent fuel into dry storage, which includes 2,300 tons near the Columbia River. In addition, 20 tons of leftover plutonium was stabilized and shipped off site. In late summer 2019, CHPRC finished design work to move radioactive capsules into dry storage. This is considered a safer means of storage for the nearly 2,000 cesium and strontium capsules that have been sitting underwater since the 1970s. The capsules will eventually be stored at the Waste Encapsulation Storage Facility, once complete. Last spring, crews from CHPRC successfully stabilized PUREX Tunnel 2, which had been at risk of collapsing. The tunnel is one of two that were used to transport waste off the Hanford site using railcars. Both tunnels still contain cars with contaminated equipment aboard. After PUREX Tunnel 1 partially collapsed three years ago, the urgency of stabilizing the second tunnel was heightened. It required 40,000 cubic yards of engineered grout to complete the safety upgrade. When Hanford remediation began more than 30 years ago, there was a 586-square-mile footprint of active cleanup. Since that time, just 76 square miles are still on the to-do list. Of the
original 1,705 total facilities and 2,025 waste sites, 905 facilities have been demolished and 1,353 waste sites remediated. The Department of Energy says, “Nowhere in the DOE Complex is cleanup more challenging than at the Hanford site,” due to its production of more than 20 million pieces of uranium metal fuel for the nine nuclear reactors that once operated in the region. Of those nine original plutonium production reactors, six were cocooned, or encased in cement and steel, to prevent any residual radiation from contaminating the environment. Nearby facilities associated
with the reactors were demolished and one reactor was preserved. The B Reactor is now part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and welcomes tourists. The decades-long cleanup process that began with the Tri-Party Agreement included 161 milestones for cleanup that were agreed upon by DOE, Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Washington in 1989. Since then, 1,734 milestones and target dates were added to the original list. Of that number, 1,691 were considered complete as of January 2020.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
Longtime Hanford Communities leader to retire By Robin Wojtanik
for Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
The first and only leader of the Hanford Communities group plans to retire in May 2020, ending 25 years of support and advocacy on behalf of those who live in the shadow of the Hanford site and its long-running cleanup efforts. It’s a role Pamela Larsen didn’t expect to fill, let alone serve in for decades, when she first applied for an economic development position while living in western Washington. “They called me and said, ‘We’ve been looking at your résumé and there’s this other job open that we think you’d be great at.’ They told me what it was, and I said, ‘Oh, I don’t think so,’ ” Larsen recalled. “There wasn’t a lot of information about Hanford at the time, plus business development and nuclear waste are pretty far apart on the spectrum. I came (here) thinking it would be two years. I missed the trees for a while but decided I liked the sun.” As the executive director since 1994, Larsen also served on the Hanford Advisory Board for that same duration, vastly expanding her knowledge on the processes, accomplishments and goals for cleanup of
the Hanford site. Former Richland City Manager Joe King created the Hanford position when he saw the need for a coordinated effort to manage information that was just starting to trickle in from the U.S. Department of Energy, which was under pressure from the state of Washington to be more transparent about its work at Hanford. Information about contamination wasn’t public. But the new disclosures helped lead to the Tri-Party Agreement, which governs
the cleanup. “They were sharing information that hadn’t been shared before, and people in the community were much more nervous about jobs and what was going to be happening, so there was a lot of interest. King had a passion to engage the communities on what was going on,” she said. Hanford Communities was created as an intergovernmental organization under Washington state law, with the city of Richland as the administrator. The Tri-Cities was the only DOE community with an association of government at first. Today, DOE communities in Los Alamos, New Mexico and at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, have followed suit. Larsen added that while Hanford Communities is no longer the only community to have this representation, it’s the only one that consistently agrees on its positions. “We are very collaborative. We have never had a major difference of opinion between the jurisdictions, whereas the communities around Los Alamos, New Mexico, have very different opinions,” she said. Larsen recently shared some of this collaborative vision with agencies in Fukushima, Japan, the site of a 2011 nuclear accident. Leaders there wanted to learn how
Hanford Communities worked to have a voice in waste cleanup. Larsen said the organization’s role has evolved over the past 25 years, shifting from policy analysis to advocacy. “As we became more knowledgeable about the issues and the depth, we’ve been able to be much more vocal, especially in Washington, D.C.,” she said. She pointed to strong local representation for helping keep Hanford a priority in the federal budget. She praised efforts from U.S. senators who represent Washington state in key roles. Sen. Patty Murray serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Maria Cantwell has served as ranking member for Energy and Natural Resources. The Washington Democrats and their staffs work on Hanford issues daily. “We’re very, very fortunate that we have those folks looking out for us,” Larsen said. While acknowledging the most recent success of Hanford receiving more money for cleanup efforts than requested for the current year, Larsen anticipates a struggle ahead. “We’re in defense appropriation, which uCOMMUNITIES, Page B14
MISSION SUPPORT ALLIANCE
Laying the foundation for Hanford cleanup success As the site services provider at Hanford, Mission Support Alliance (MSA) plays a key role in ensuring workers across the site have the tools and resources they need to meet complex cleanup demands. Whether it’s maintaining water lines and roadways, updating electrical systems, preparing an employee for the next step in their career or helping small businesses get their foot in the door, providing support is at the heart of MSA’s day-to-day operations. Over the last 10 years of MSA’s contract, the company has worked with local and regional small businesses to offer advice, answer questions and to ensure they are on a path for success while supporting Hanford cleanup. In fiscal year 2019, MSA exceeded its small business subcontracting goal of 50 percent, finishing the fiscal year with nearly 81 percent of all awards going to small businesses. Since contract inception in 2009, MSA has awarded nearly $1.3 billion in contracts to small businesses, including information technology services, construction and maintenance operations. “Small businesses provide highly-skilled and experienced workers who can offer a range of important services that are vital to Hanford’s cleanup mission,” said Haley Taylor, MSA’s small business program manager. “If you’re a small business and you’re looking for an opportunity at Hanford, MSA has a lot of great opportunities.” With a continued emphasis on working with small businesses, MSA held its first subcontracting forum, aimed at promoting open dialogue with local small businesses on recent and upcoming contract changes and discussing future procurement opportunities. The forum was attended by more than 20 small businesses. MSA’s support of small businesses received national recognition recently as the company received the Facility Management Contractor Small Business Achievement of the Year award at DOE’s Annual Small Busi-
ness Forum and Expo. MSA was recognized for a number of our small business initiatives, which include attending local and national expos and events to meet with small businesses and help them register with the Hanford site vendor database. Robert Wilkinson In addition to being one of Mission Support the sponsors for the Bridging Alliance Partnerships Small Business Symposium, which is held annually, MSA also partners with the other Hanford contractors to form the Hanford Small Business Council (HSBC). The council provides an opportunity for the small business program managers to collaborate once a month to discuss new or upcoming small business rules and regulations, ask questions and provide guidance and opportunities for small businesses looking to secure work on the Hanford site and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The HSBC is unique and one-of-a-kind, as it is the only Small Business Council across the DOE complex. Along with fostering small business growth, MSA also prides itself on fostering the professional growth of its employees. While working with small businesses continues to be a high priority, MSA also prides itself on providing opportunities for potential and current employees to be prepared to take that next step in their career. From community-focused events such as Connect Tri-Cities and scholarships for local students, to workforce and leadership opportunities and training and mentoring programs, MSA implements many programs for employee development. “Our goal is to ensure every employee recognizes that they are valuable to our company,” said Todd
Beyers, vice president of human resources at MSA. “It doesn’t matter if they are furthering their education or looking to take the next step in their career, we are committed to ensure there are opportunities available to help employees grow professionally.” MSA partners with local organizations, including the Columbia Basin Veterans Center, WorkSource and Goodwill Industries, as well as multiple local high schools to assist with mock interviews and résumébuilding workshops. Additionally, MSA leads the annual Connect Tri-Cities event, which draws more than 1,000 local high school students and job seekers. MSA also has awarded nearly $1 million in scholarships over the last 10 years to employee dependents and local students who are pursuing college degrees. Throughout the year, MSA opens its doors to college students looking to gain real-world experiences. As a part of its internship programs, students have the opportunity to work with various organizations, applying what they learned in the classroom. To date, close to 500 students have interned at MSA. Professional growth opportunities for current employees include a six-month professional development program, informal and formal mentoring sessions, specialized training courses and educational reimbursements for advancing their education. Later this year, the MSA contract with DOE will officially come to a close, but the company’s legacy will continue to have impact. With a changing Hanford cleanup landscape, there will continue to be a need for strong relationships with small businesses while ensuring the future workforce is prepared for the future growth at Hanford. Robert Wilkinson is president of Mission Support Alliance.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020 WRPS, From page B6
WRPS workers install a pump needed to retrieve radioactive and chemical waste from single-shell Tank AX-102. Moving waste from older single-shell tanks to newer, more robust doubleshell tanks is a key step toward eventual waste treatment. Courtesy WRPS
DEPT. OF ENERGY, From page B2 cleanup work. During these contract transitions, we will continue our strong focus on safety. Everything we do at the site is underpinned by our commitment to safety—for our workers, the public and the environment. DEPT. OF ECOLOGY, From page B3 based on protecting people who are here 500 years from now. As long as human habitation is constant, we can keep people safe. New technologies may develop that even allow us to capture contaminants we can’t today. While efforts are in full swing to practice social distancing and “flatten the curve,” this pandemic is a reminder that,
HANFORD Teamwork also is essential to our success. It means partnering with our DOE client, regulators, other Hanford contractors and a wide range of stakeholders to move the cleanup mission forward. Our success is a function of the hundreds of businesses in our community with which we have subcontracted. Since 2008, we’ve spent $900 million in local business subcontracts and more than $1.3 billion with small businesses. In addition, the $6.5 million we’ve donated to area programs and initiatives has improved quality of life in one of the
best communities in the nation. WRPS’ corporate heritage combines three of the world’s strongest engineering, construction and remediation companies: Amentum, Atkins and Orano. We are proud to carry their names and grateful for their support. As we continue in our 12th year, WRPS is committed to building on our historic legacy of “success delivered” and “finishing proud.” John Eschenberg is Washington River Protection Solutions’ president and chief executive officer.
Our mission is enabled by a wide and diverse team that includes more than DOE, its contractors and workforce. The Hanford team is comprised of collaborative and constructive relationships with our community, stakeholders and regulators. The work is challenging, and when faced with adversity, the team
looks to innovation and collaboration to get the job done safely. Like most close relationships, we won’t always agree on everything, but we recognize that safe progress in cleanup is a win for everyone. We want you all to be proud of the revitalization that has happened and con-
tinues to happen on the Hanford site. Just as we have delivered on environmental cleanup in the past, we will continue to deliver solid results for you in the future.
in theory, something could literally wipe out most of the human race. It is safe to assume (since history repeats) that the progeny of the survivors would eventually migrate back into our area. How do we keep future settlers from building on top of ERDF, or drilling a drinking water well? Signage would be long buried and who knows what language might exist even if signs were miraculously found. When the TPA was created, people
thought cleanup would last only 25 or 30 years. We now know final cleanup and vitrification of Hanford’s most dangerous waste won’t be complete until at least the 2070s. As such we heavily support numerous efforts designed to build a future Hanford workforce of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experts and skilled craft people. Perhaps someday we’ll need to hire philosophers and futurists!
Milestones have changed over the years, but the Nuclear Waste Program remains laser-focused on our responsibility to not only the safety of Generation X and millennials, but to their great-great-grandchildren and beyond.
Brian Vance is the manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford site.
Alex Smith is the nuclear waste program manager for the Washington Department of Ecology.
VEOLIA NUCLEAR SOLUTIONS
Veolia is invested in Hanford, future of region Veolia Nuclear Solutions–Federal Services (VNSFS) has a long and successful history at the Hanford site, where it operates two critical elements of the cleanup – the 222-S Laboratory under a direct contract to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF), under a subcontract to CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. (CHPRC). Our engineering services group is based in Richland.
222-S lab works to further mission The 70,000-square foot 222-S lab handles highly-radioactive samples for purposes of organic, inorganic and radiochemistry analyses. It contains 11 hot cells, which gives the lab the capability to remotely handle these tank waste samples while minimizing radiation dose to workers. In 2019, our lab staff performed 32,000 analyses on up to 10,000 tank waste samples, up from about 25,000 the year before. Working with these highly-radioactive samples is something VNSFS does with safety always as its top priority, a fact that is evident in the lab’s stellar safety record. In addition to tank waste sampling for the DOE Office of River Protection, the 222-S lab also supports other Hanford contractors and projects such as the Spent Fuel Nuclear Project and the Central Plateau Closure Project. Lab personnel are offering their expertise to further the Hanford mission by working with the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant and the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste initiative to facilitate successful integration of analytical operations.
Together with other Hanford contractors on the vit plant project, VNSFS 222-S lab employees are working to protect the environment and the millions of people who live in the Pacific Northwest.
ERDF is a key player Not far from the lab, VNSFS Amanda Gilmore is responsible for the full specVeolia Nuclear trum of landfill management Solutions and operations at ERDF, commonly referred to as the hub of the Hanford site cleanup. The 107-acre facility is DOE’s largest landfill, and is authorized to accept, stage, treat and dispose of low-level radioactive, hazardous and mixed wastes generated by Hanford environmental restoration activities. VNSFS has managed the Hanford landfill since 2013 and works closely with all Hanford waste generators to ensure waste acceptance criteria and regulatory compliance are met during all phases of waste generation, containerization, transport and disposal activities. VNSFS’ efforts over the past few years to safely package and dispose of large, contaminated items (instead of shipping them off site) has resulted in significant savings for DOE. In early 2020, ERDF and sitewide cleanup contractor CHPRC are helping DOE achieve an important milestone at Hanford – completing cleanup of the Plutonium Finishing Plant, where two-thirds of the U.S. Cold War-
era plutonium was produced. More than 900 containers of finishing plant waste were disposed at ERDF from December 2018 through February 2020. “This is a great example of teamwork in a high-hazard environment, with the customer, prime contractor and subcontractor all being on the same page to achieve this milestone. I’m very proud of our team,” said Billy Morrison, VNSFS chief executive officer and president.
From inception to completion Twenty years of DOE engineering experience means that VNSFS can deliver nuclear, environmental, infrastructure, waste, robotics, process and international engineering services. We are NQA-1 certified with all relevant disciplines and have reach back to more than 1,000 engineers. Our engineering capabilities cover the full spectrum of project needs from inception through completion. These include strategic planning, code evaluation, feasibility study, specification development, field engineering, condition assessments, life extension analysis and system troubleshooting. With its many services and capabilities, VNSFS is proud to be a part of One Hanford—a team of highly skilled and dedicated workers. As one, we are committed to safe and ethical work practices throughout our project sites. Amanda Gilmore is communications lead, business development for Veolia Nuclear Solutions— Federal Services.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
Behind-the-scene workers manage massive warehouses By Ian Klei
Bechtel National Inc.
They may operate in the background but the employees at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant’s Material Handling Facility (MHF) warehouse play an important role in the mission to treat Hanford’s tank waste. The team receives, inspects, stores and delivers all materials and equipment needed to build the Hanford vit plant, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program. Their skill, precision and ingenuity in accomplishing these tasks support the progress being made by their counterparts at the job site. They take pride in what they do and they do it well. Bechtel National Inc. holds the contract to design, build, startup and commission the vit plant. The MHF team works with electricians, ironworkers, laborers, operators, pipefitters and teamsters. As a whole, they ensure material arriving at the warehouse is properly received, inspected, stored and maintained until needed for installation. “I consider the MHF warehouse to be world class,” said Ron Sudduth, supplier quality and materials management manager at MHF. “It gives me great pride when our customers walk through and say ‘wow.’ This warehouse is the best I have ever seen and our process is as good, if not better, than any in the industry.” The process includes non-manual employees from material management, receiving inspection and testing, asset management, traffic and logistics who collaborate to ensure material arriving at the warehouse is properly received, inspected, stored and maintained until needed for installation. “The material handling facility team represents important capabilities that have been supporting the DFLAW construction and treatment program and are integral to our drive to make glass by 2023,” said Wahed Abdul, federal project director for DOE’s Office of Environmental Management. Effective collaboration across so many disciplines is the key to success for this crew that filled more than 4,200 requests for materials in 2019 with a 99.5 percent on-time rate. Delays at the warehouse would mean a potentially negative impact on progress because work is planned and job site activities are scheduled to complete construction and startup and begin treating tank waste. “When we say we have something, we have it,” Sudduth said. “We do our job right the first time, which saves time and money. We are not losing time looking for material, and we are not losing money rebuying commodities.” Collaboration doesn’t end within the walls of the warehouse. When a request is made from the field, the MHF employees load the needed materials or equipment onto trucks and deliver them to the job site. This process involves logistical plan-
ning and coordination with field engineering, security and construction. Loading material often involves the use of heavy equipment. Larger items can even require working with an external shipping company and closing roads. Employees on the other end need to be ready to receive. Courtesy Bechtel National Inc. And safety and quality are built TOP: The aerial photo shows the Material Handling Facility warehouse into all processes. and laydown yard in north Richland. BOTTOM: Material and equipment “Often times the material are stored in the 240,000-square-foot warehouse until needed at the vit or equipment being moved is plant job site. large, important, and very expensive,” Sudduth said. “The integrity of the item and the safety of the workers have to be assured. We can’t afford to make mistakes.” When not receiving materials and fulfilling job site requests, MHF staff ensures the stored materials are marked and tagged appropriately to maintain accountability and keeps them clean, free of damage, and ready for use. There are more than 800,000 items being stored with a value of nearly $200 million, and more than 3 million pieces of material have been moved through the warehouse by MHF workers. This much material requires massive amounts of space. The 240,000-square-foot warehouse – about 20 miles from the job site in north Richland – is the main hub of material management. Items are received and unloaded or loaded for delivery there. Material considered “hot” that will need to be shipped to the job site soon, as well as those that need periodic maintenance or inspection, are stored at MHF. Located just south of the warehouse is 127 acres of outdoor storage, dubbed the South 40. uWAREHOUSES, Page B15
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
CONTRACTS, From page B7 tend the contract to May 25, 2021. “These extensions were expected, as they allow for adequate time for disposition of the award protest and completion of the 120-day transition to the new Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract,” according to a memo from MSA to its employees. A bid protest on the support services contract was filed by Hanford Integrated Infrastructure Services Contractor. A GAO decision on the protest could come as late as May 2020. DOE previously announced three teams submitted proposals for the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract, which covers all support services, including security and emergency services, inCOMMUNITIES, From page B11 means the weapons program competes with waste cleanup for funding. This administration wants to put more money into weapons, so that will be hard to sustain, but a lot is going to get done this year and we have incredible leadership at the Department of Energy in Brian Vance.” Larsen recognizes the local community’s ability to leverage future success in new avenues with the growth of nuclear energy at the Columbia Generating Station, operated by Energy Northwest. Proximity to the commercial nuclear plant has led to a comfort level because engineers and other workers live in the community. “If you live in Seattle, you probably don’t know a nuclear engineer, let alone live next door to one,” she said. She also points to the supporting industries and small businesses that have cropped up around the site that have a future interest in the success of nuclear energy. Reflecting on the last 25 years since becoming the first employee of Hanford Communities, Larsen remembers the collaborative effort around safety and stabilization of the PUREX tunnels, once used to transport items out of the Hanford site. “The Department of Energy and the state were progressing along, but we had a strong sense of urgency. The DOE site manager met with the four mayors and talked of the potential collapse of the tunnel, so they wrote a very strong letter to the state, ‘Please issue the permit,’ so the DOE could get it done. And the grouting got done before that nasty winter we had last year. They’ve been given a lot of credit for moving that along a lot faster.” Still, Larsen wishes some projects were
frastructure maintenance and upgrades, land management, information technology services, management of the HAMMER Federal Training Center and construction of infrastructure to support the vit plant. DOE held debriefings in January 2020 with all bidding teams that had submitted for the two contract decisions announced in December 2019, the Central Plateau Cleanup Contract and the Hanford services contract. This process allowed all bidders, including those awarded the contract, to hear the reasoning behind the decision. Protests are typically filed within a week of a debriefing.
Lab services contract A final contract at Hanford is up for grabs due to the expiration of the current
further along, such as treating tank waste. The original goal was 2007. “We need to get waste out of the tank,” Larsen said. “The problem has been, the Defense Nuclear Safety Board kept coming up with safety questions.” The cleanup of the Columbia River corridor is a point of pride for Larsen’s past quarter of a century of work. “When I first started, and Congressman (Doc) Hastings first came to office, he went to see C Reactor and it was snowing inside the building,” Larsen said. Today, the river corridor is almost done. Sludge is removed from K Basin, contamination plumes have shrunk and the pump-and-treat systems along the Central Plateau are doing an incredible job treating 2.5 billion gallons of water a year in central Hanford. Efforts still remain for cleanup of the Central Plateau. “For a region that’s dependent on agriculture, and particularly agricultural exports, getting the high-risk work done secures our future,” she said. At 66, Larsen is retiring from her paid position with the city of Richland and Hanford Communities, allowing her more time to travel and go boating. But she doesn’t expect to fade away from overall advocacy over Hanford cleanup. “I still care about the issues and hope to have some engagement, but I’m not willing to say what that might be,” Larsen said. As for the future of Larsen’s position, it’s unclear. The Hanford Communities Administrative Board created a subcommittee to review the position and potential organizations that may provide administrative support, according to Cindy Reents, Rich-
HANFORD agreement for laboratory services supporting tank waste closure. As it stands, the 222-S Laboratory Analysis and Testing Services contract is held by Wastren Advantage, a company held by French-owned Veolia. The lab contract also expires at the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2020. The new contract out for bid is called the 222-S Laboratory. It is expected to be awarded to a small business despite an estimated contract value between $600 million and $1 billion. Veolia currently tests about 32,000 samples a year in the 200 West Area, mostly from the tank farms.
Vit plant, medical services contracts Bechtel National Inc. still holds the
massive contract to build the vit plant, valued at $14.7 billion. Bechtel has been on site at Hanford since 2000 executing the contract written through 2022 with no option period. The plant is expected to be ready to treat some waste by 2023, with Bechtel expected to remain on the project through the 2036 deadline for the plant to become fully-operational. A Kennewick company also is on site fulfilling the Occupational Medical Services contract. HPM Corp. has been the provider of work-related medical services since 2012 and signed a new deal using the end state contracting model. HPM’s contract began in spring 2019 and is valued at $152 million over seven years.
Courtesy Office of Environmental Management Pam Larsen, far left, and other members of Hanford Communities listen during a 2018 tour of the 324 Building Disposition Project mock-up, which was intended to increase safety and worker confidence by providing employees with the opportunity to work in a non-hazardous environment.
land’s current city manager. No decision has been made. Before she retires, Larsen is focusing on a final project promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education to local students in hopes of inspiring future members of Hanford’s workforce to sustain the cleanup for decades to come. “We are going to try to take it from their perspective, ‘What are your passions? What are your interests?’ ‘Where does that lead you to?’ We’ll introduce them to educators and people at the site,” said Larsen, who is working with the Washington State STEM Education Foundation to model some of
the nonprofit’s successful programs on career-connected learning. Larsen said the Hanford Advisory Board benefits from depth of knowledge for positions appointed by the cities, which aren’t term limited, and has allowed her to serve for decades. She could continue to contribute through public at-large positions, though those are term limited. “When you’ve been around this long, there’s a lot of stuff in your head. So when somebody says, ‘Hey, let’s do this,’ you can go, ‘Been there, done that. It didn’t work and here’s why.’ ”
Thank You This Hanford specialty publication is made possible by these sponsors.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020
Photos courtesy Bechtel National Inc. LEFT: Hanford Material Handling Facility Superintendent Ryan McKee walks past items stored at the facility storage yard. RIGHT: Ironworkers Justin Guzman, from left, Cole Sellers and Jay Moyer move material at the Hanford Material Handling Facility storage yard.
WAREHOUSES, From page B13 Items stored here must be able to withstand exposure to the elements of a desert landscape. Employees constantly maintain the items by cleaning off blown dirt and tumbleweeds, eradicating weeds and protecting equipment from wildlife looking for a home. It’s not uncommon to encounter rattlesnakes, jackrabbits, coyotes or deer, as well as bugs and bees. Another storage warehouse is 80 miles away in Yakima. This 150,000-squarefoot unmanned warehouse contains material that will be stored for longer without need for maintenance or inspections. DOE regulations require that every piece of material is tracked and accounted for from the supplier all the way to
installation. Helping to make sense of it all is Ryan McKee, superintendent of the crew of roughly 50 employees at MHF. “We receive, inspect, track, store and maintain everything in meticulous detail,” McKee said. “If something isn’t correct, it needs to be remedied. If we order 100 screws and receive only 99, we can’t just call it good. We do the paperwork to get that one extra screw. We are accountable to DOE and the American taxpayer.” The process is robust and can require extra time to complete tasks, but McKee acknowledges that following the procedures and plans are what ensures the plant is built to the quality and safety standards that befit a nuclear facility.
“We are a line of defense in the construction of the plant. Our job requires receiving and inspecting material that must be of the highest quality. If we allow something in the door that doesn’t meet those standards, it can have huge implications to the cost and schedule and the eventual safe operation of the plant. We don’t take that lightly,” McKee said. Timbre Howard is an MHF heavy equipment operator, transporting materials and equipment on and off the truck and around the facilities and storage areas. Her grandfather worked on several of the dams along the Columbia River and she takes pride in her turn to contribute to the long-term benefit of the area. “Without the work we do at MHF, the
plant wouldn’t get done,” Howard said. “We are all part of one team here with the same goal of treating the waste and protecting our home. I want my family to be proud of me the way I am proud of my grandpa.” Sudduth believes that employee pride, coupled with the plan in place, is what makes the difference in their work. “Bechtel came in and made a plan and set it up right,” he said. “The managers believe in it, they set the expectations, and then they help the employees achieve it. That is what makes us successful here at MHF, and that is the mindset across the project that is going to finish this mission.” Ian Klei is a communications specialist for Bechtel National Inc.
Ensuring worker health and well-being at Hanford In late 2018, HPM Corp. was competitively re-awarded the Hanford Occupational Medical Services contract. HPM Corp. Occupational Medical Services (HPMC OMS) is one of the largest occupational medicine programs among all U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sites. As a prime contractor to DOE, HPMC OMS provides comprehensive occupational medicine and health-related services to more than 9,000 Hanford workers in professional, technical, administrative and craft occupations. We just completed the first year of our new seven-year contract with DOE, and I could not be prouder to be a part of this organization. Our dedicated team of health care professionals and support staff have the privilege of ensuring an effective, healthy workforce for DOE and other Hanford contractors. Our unique role on the One Hanford team provides us with the ability to interact with nearly every worker on the site. Led by Dr. Karen Phillips, our clinical staff supports the cleanup mission by ensuring the Hanford workforce is able and ready to perform work in a safe manner. In the event they are not, we have experienced case management, behavioral health and industrial rehabilitation services to provide care and guidance in their safe return to full duty. An integral part of HPMC OMS’ successful business strategy is our commitment to small business utiliza-
tion. We work diligently to identify and partner with small businesses that bring value to our work through their provision of goods and services. We recognize that our small business partners contribute to our innovative processes, supHiram Whitmer port our customers, encourage HPMC OMS local job creation and contribute substantially to the overall health of our local and regional economies. Our occupational medicine service delivery model for Hanford is driven by our DOE contract. It includes areas such as medical surveillance and exams, first aid, return to work, case management, behavioral health services, health promotion and education, industrial rehabilitation and ergonomics. Last year, we conducted more than 22,000 patient visits. In 2019, HPMC OMS established a small business plan and contracted more than $2.3 million to small businesses in and around the state of Washington. We purchased goods and services, such as office supplies and furniture, linen services, moving services, equipment repair and maintenance, medical and physical fitness equipment, printing, and X-ray, cardiology and other various medical testing services. In support of our small business contracting efforts,
we participate in various business development and networking opportunities, such as Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) events. This provides us with an opportunity to increase our local small business contacts, which has led to successful competitive procurement awards. We are actively involved in the Mentor-Protégée Program with DOE and one of our subcontractors. Our protégée was nominated for the Protégée of the Year award for DOE’s program. This program allows us to coach a small business new to government contracting on how to do successful business with the government. In 2020, HPMC OMS aims to increase our small business impact to $3.7 million. Our focus is to fill procurements with small business opportunities, specifically to Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses and Veteran Owned Small Businesses. Services we are hoping to expand with small business this year are medical supplies, toxicology and urinary analysis services, shipping supplies, pharmaceuticals and multimedia development. I look forward to leading our exceptional team through the next year of change at Hanford. We will continue to make the safety and health of workers our No. 1 priority. Hiram Whitmer is president and program manager of HPM Corp. Occupational Medical Services.
TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2020