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HANFORD A specialty publication of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

Presenting sponsors

April 2021


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TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2021

INSIDE THIS ISSUE (509) 737-8778

Covid-19 slowed but did not stop progress on Hanford cleanup

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8524 W. Gage Blvd., #A1-300 Kennewick, WA 99336

What does a new administration mean for Hanford?

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tcjournal.biz

You’ve heard about the vit plant, but do you know what it will do?

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Small Hanford subcontractors cry foul amid contractor changes

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‘Friend of Hanford’ at odds with community leaders on breaching dams

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Retired Hanford chemist now tells overlooked stories of Black excellence

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Newhouse invites new Energy secretary to tour Hanford

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GUEST COLUMNS U.S. Department of Energy

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Department of Ecology

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Bechtel National Inc.

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Central Plateau Cleanup Company

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Washington River Protection Solutions

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HPMC Occupational Medical Services

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Hanford Mission Integration Solutions

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Veolia Nuclear Solutions

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Hanford Laboratories Management & Integration

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On cover: Photos courtesy Bechtel National Inc.

Roles:

On cover: Photos courtesy Bechtel National Inc.

• Overall Contract Responsibility

• Estimating and Scheduling

• Program/Project Management

• Design Coordination

• Safety and Quality

• Self Perform Construction

• Procurement

• Subcontractor Management and Oversight

Established in 1995

Prime Subcontractor • 25 Years Experience at Hanford & Tank Farms. • 2,000,000 + Hours Worked at Hanford without a lost time accident. EMR <1.0 for past 5 years. • Successfully Completed 18 Releases on original BOA • Currently working 27 Releases on new BMA. • WRPS, CHPRC, and MSA Approved NQA-1 Program and Time Keeping Program. • Currently Performing work IAW RPP, ISMS, VPP, CBDPP and IWC including Integrated Systematic Risk Management. • American Electric currently has over 150 trained and experienced craft and non-craft personnel ready to perform any task requested at the Hanford Site.

(509) 946-0320 • 1999 Butler Loop, Richland • Cont. Lic. #AMERIEI055OF

Joe Gonzalez, Owner


TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2021

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Covid-19 slowed but did not stop progress on Hanford cleanup been no reported infections directly linked to the site. In a March note to site employees, Hanford’s site manager advised workers that no vaccines were available to the workforce but were on offer in the community. Brian T. Vance encouraged workers to get a vaccination as soon as they became eligible.

By John Stang

for Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

An act of God. Or, among lawyers, a force majeure. Many contracts have force majeure clauses to govern what happens when faced with circumstances beyond anyone’s control. The global Covid-19 pandemic certainly falls into this category. How much did Covid-19 affect Hanford’s cleanup mission? Not much in the big picture. Some tank waste pumping will slow down. And some inspections will be sparser for a while. But so far, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has not asked the Washington State Department of Ecology for any changes for the milestones set in the Tri-Party Agreement (TPA), said John Price, TPA section manager for Ecology. The TPA is the legal pact between Ecology, DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that governs Hanford’s cleanup schedule and standards. The TPA also addresses construction and operations of the $17 billion radioactive tank waste vitrification plant that is about to start operating at Hanford. The state and federal agencies meet regularly to negotiate changes in Hanford’s cleanup deadlines affected by technical challenges and Covid-19. David Bowen, Ecology’s nuclear waste program manager, declined to elaborate

Courtesy Bechtel National Inc. Extensions related to Covid-19 bumped the startup of Hanford’s Low Activity Waste vitrification plant to March 2024, from Dec. 31, 2023. The scheduled startup of Hanford’s high-level waste treatment plant in 2033 has been kept intact.

on specific issues being covered during the meetings or to spell out a timetable for those talks. Details are confidential while the negotiations are underway. The TPA isn’t the only controlling voice when it comes to removing highly radioactive waste from Hanford’s 177 underground tanks. A federal court consent agreement dates to 2010 is in play as well. Like the TPA, the consent decree has

been litigated and modified.

Pandemic’s effects The Covid-19 pandemic severely reduced the number of people on site. Only 10% of the 11,000 workers in March 2020 could work at Hanford at one time. Those numbers have increased as extra protective measures have been taken. While some Hanford workers have been affected by Covid-19, there have

Deadlines delayed The reduction in workers on site led DOE to approach the state for an extension to the consent decree deadline for emptying some leak-prone single-shell tanks into newer safer double-shell tanks. “Ecology very quickly realized it was force majeure,” Price said. Ecology agreed to delay the deadline for pumping out nine single-shell tanks in Hanford’s A and AX tank farms for five months beyond the previous October 2026 target. Extensions related to Covid-19 also bumped the startup of Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low Activity Waste vitrification plant to March 2024, from Dec. 31, 2023. The scheduled startup of Hanford’s high-level waste treatment plant in 2033 has been kept intact. Also, the vitrification complex’s first major component was completed last June – the project’s massive analytical laboratory. Price said another pandemic-related change has been DOE doing fewer onuCLEANUP PROGRESS, Page B6

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Hanford plant is on cusp of melting waste after an eventful 2020 The Hanford site team has consistently supported our nation during unprecedented times and this year has been no different. The innovation and determination of our workers, from the most experienced leaders to those just starting their careers, have ensured success throughout our site history during both the national security mission of the past and today’s efforts to clean up and protect the environment while navigating a pandemic. Over the past year, the Hanford team demonstrated not only innovation and dedication, but also tenacity and flexibility. In March 2020 and almost overnight, more than 6,000 employees transitioned from our traditional way of working to teleworking. While a change of that magnitude is never perfect, the Hanford team aggressively worked through issues and implemented timely solutions professionally and constructively. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, 2020 marked an inflection point at Hanford as we shift from a construction focus to tank waste treatment operations. Construction is now complete on all facilities at the Waste Treatment and

Immobilization Plant needed to begin tank waste treatment via the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Brian Vance program. U.S. Department This program of Energy is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements that will operate together to send treated waste from Hanford’s tank farms directly to the treatment plant. Technicians vital to running more than 200 separate systems and remote operations for the DFLAW facilities are trained and on the job. The Hanford team also made progress in reducing risks to the environment. We delivered exceptional progress on complex cleanup projects to reduce risks posed by aging structures and groundwater contamination, anchored by our collective commitment to the health and safety of our workers, our community and our environment. These achievements have helped

usher in a new era for Hanford cleanup – one that will require a high level of integration between the two Hanford field offices and our contractor teams as we approach the start of tank waste treatment. As we continue to improve collaboration across the site, we are focused on an ambitious slate of priorities this year. These priorities will move us along the path of addressing tank waste challenges, reducing risks from aging facilities, remediating contaminated soil and groundwater and safely managing and disposing of waste. The Hanford team has hit the ground running this year, completing stabilization of aging underground structures in the footprint of the former Plutonium Finishing Plant. This priority not only reduces risks to workers and the environment, but also enables our team to finish removing the last of the demolition rubble this year. Construction also is moving forward on a new dry-storage area for safer storage of cesium and strontium capsules that will be removed from underwater storage. We’re moving forward with steps to place former nuclear reactors along the

Columbia River into interim safe storage and continue to significantly shrink areas of groundwater contamination near the river. When it comes to tackling tank waste, we will finish demonstrating that a tank-side treatment system critical to DFLAW success is ready for operations. We also are preparing the treatment plant for heat up of its first melter, a significant step toward immobilizing tank waste in glass, and upgrading the engineered landfill where the treated waste will be dispositioned. Moving all of these facilities forward in the commissioning phase is a top priority for the year ahead, as these are the last steps before plant startup. We look forwarding to partnering with the Tri-Cities community as we work to achieve these priorities. From my vantage point, beyond the impressive physical progress achieved to date, I am most proud of the growth of our Hanford leadership team and the strengthening of our relationships with our community forged through our work together during challenging times. The Hanford leadership team remains engaged with local community and

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What does a new administration mean for Hanford? By John Stang

for Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

What does having a new president in office mean for Hanford? Specifically, what does it mean to have President Joe Biden, a former vice president and longtime U.S. senator, in the Oval Office? What does it mean to have Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, at the helm at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)? Local officials, including Washington’s congressional delegation, are working to ensure the new leaders in the executive branch understand the complex cleanup work that needs to continue. U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, represents the 4th Congressional District, home to Hanford. He’s already invited Granholm to tour the site. In a March 30 letter, Newhouse noted that, “Previous administrations ... have recognized the legal and moral obligation of the federal government to clean up Hanford, and I urge this administration to do the same.” (See related story on page B19) The president plays a key role in determining how much in taxpayer dollars will go toward the nuclear cleanup through his annual budget proposal. However, congress controls the federal purse. Over the decades, a pattern has emerged in setting the budget for cleaning the heavily contaminated site. DOE proposes an annual budget at the start of the federal budgeting process, which includes the release of the president’s budget. The Washington State De-

partment of Ecology protests that the federal figures are too small. The federal Office of Management and Budget trims that request some more. Then Washington’s congressional delegation gets to work to increase the final budget in resolutions and through the appropriations process. Hanford’s fiscal 2021 budget, developed in 2020 before the Oct. 1 start of the federal fiscal year, follows the same pattern. The Trump administration proposed a $1.8 billion for fiscal 2021, down from $2.5 billion in fiscal 2020. Washington’s congressional delegation bumped that up to $2.6 billion. The Biden administration is not expected to release its budget until April, after the deadline for this edition. The Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC) credited the efforts of Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, and Newhouse for the final numbers. With a new administration comes a new set of players, many of them presidential appointees subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. This has offered Northwest politicians a chance to ask questions. In early March, Cantwell asked David Turk, Biden’s then nominee for deputy energy secretary, about the Hanford budget during a confirmation hearing. “Are you committed to proposing funding for Hanford that aligns with the Tri-Party Agreement milestones, and do you commit to meeting all the Tri-Party agreement milestones?” Cantwell asked, referring to

Courtesy Bechtel National Inc. Local officials, including Washington’s congressional delegation, are working to ensure the new leaders in the executive branch understand the complex cleanup work that needs to continue at Hanford.

the binding agreement between the state of Washington, DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hanford is a priority, Turk responded. “I know there’s been a lot of frustration with the previous administration to lowball their funding requests here in a way that’s

not helpful for the process. And I certainly look forward to working with Secretary Granholm to make sure that we have the kind of funding, the kind of budgeting to be helpful. And just on your circumstances uADMINISTRATION, Page B6

DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY State’s new manager hopes to offer fresh look at Hanford’s challenging issues As the new manager for the state of Washington’s Nuclear Waste Program, I appreciate the opportunity to reach out and introduce myself to the Tri-City community. I’ve been on the job at Nuclear Waste for the past several months, but I’m not new to this area or its economy and concerns. I’m a 50-plus year resident of Central Washington with a diverse background, including economic development, business ownership, corporate community and government relations. And I served seven years as a county-wide elected official. We raised our family here, and I assisted my grandmother with cattle and harvesting hay to support her herd beginning at the age of 15, up until she sold everything in 2004 so she could officially enjoy retirement. My rural upbringing, role models and work experience have served me well at the Washington State Department of Ecology the last five years. I came to the agency as the Water Quality Section manager in the Union Gap office, where we provide service to seven central Washington counties

– Benton, Yakima, Klickitat, Kittitas, Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan. I learned a lot about permit writing in the last five years David Bowen and brought Washington my diverse Department perspective to of Ecology a team focused on technical assistance working toward behavioral change. I officially started as Nuclear Waste Program manager on Dec. 16, 2020, but I’ve been absorbing everything Hanford since mid-November when I was offered the job. I knew it was a complex project with diverse points of view inside and outside of the local community. The U.S. Department of Energy provided a tour of the site in late January, which helped immensely to provide a visual perspective for all I’ve been learning through reading, listening and briefings from inside and outside the

nuclear waste program. My role is taking shape and looks much like I expected, with a mixture of the policy, legislative activity and relationship building I experienced as a Kittitas County commissioner and the permitting/technical assistance role I had in Water Quality. Relationships can always be better and need continuous attention. Some tension is normal between a regulator and a permittee – the key is to work toward keeping the tension healthy while providing overall public confidence in the end results. Those relationships are high on my list to establish and maintain. As we look at the next year, new leadership at Ecology in Richland and in Olympia provide opportunities for a fresh look at some of Hanford’s more challenging issues. I also note relatively new leadership within the U.S. Department of Energy with a specific mission to start treatment and reduce life cycle costs. At our Richland office, we are recruiting to fill vacant positions to be responsive, proactive and to support the progress on site. 

It is an exciting time to be involved at Hanford with the Direct Feed Low Activity Waste facilities transitioning from construction to operational testing; the ongoing work to demolish and properly dispose of hundreds of buildings; and the successful and continuing treatment of billions of gallons of groundwater on an annual basis. All my conversations have revealed a shared goal of success in an efficient and safe cleanup at Hanford. Friction comes in the different perspectives of how to get there. My hope is to bridge those gaps, find the common ground and address the larger issues one at a time. We can’t fix what we don’t talk about. I continue to learn more about the site and about relationships that need to be built. I’m open to and welcome the perspectives anyone would like to share with me. I’ve received a warm welcome from so many and look forward to working through the challenges and opportunities. David Bowen is the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program manager.


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CLEANUP PROGRESS, From page B3 site inspections. Ecology department employees double-check some inspections from off-site from reports instead of checking firsthand on-site. Two other changes took place last December involving major changes in contractors. DOE, From page B3 health care leaders to ensure site operational decisions are made in consideration of community conditions and in support of community actions. Keeping our workers, their families and our community safe has been and will continue to be the No.1 priority. We have embraced new ways of communicating virtually to maintain our commitment to public engagement, conducting online Hanford Advisory ADMINISTRATION, From page B5

in Hanford, I wanted to get to that. I absolutely look forward to working with you on that,” he said during the hearing. The full Senate confirmed Turk, a former Obama Administration climate and national security official, on March 24 on a 98-2 vote. Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Josh Hawley of Missouri casting the “no” votes. Turk was sworn into office the following day. Murray’s office said it is pushing Hanford’s cleanup as a prior-

HANFORD

Central Plateau Cleanup Co. began its $10 billion, 10-year central Hanford cleanup contract, succeeding CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. in that role. And Hanford Mission Integration Solutions succeeded Mission Support Alliance as the manager of 10-year $6 billion site services contract, serving in effect as Hanford’s landlord.

Also last year, DOE awarded Hanford Works Restoration, a team led by BWXT of Lynchburg, Virginia, a $13 billion 10-year contract to succeed Washington River Protection Solutions as the tank farms manager. The award was appealed. DOE rescinded that award and released a request for proposals for a new

10-year, $26.5 billion contract to manage both the tank farms and the vitrification project. No timeline has been set for the bidding process.

Board meetings and public comment periods, and virtual discussions with our regulators. We also have created a Hanford site virtual tour on Hanford.gov as another vehicle for those interested in our cleanup effort to stay connected. Recognizing the changes in our community since the Hanford Advisory Board was formed many years ago, we are working on adding as many as six new seats to the board to better represent diverse perspectives.

I am extremely grateful for our One Hanford team’s dedication, toughness and tenacity in safely delivering significant progress in 2020. I am confident that we will leverage our collective experiences and enhanced teamwork as the strong foundation for what I believe will be an exceptional new era of cleanup progress at the Hanford site this decade. I believe that we’ve seen the very best in people through acts of kindness, charity, courage and selflessness as

we’ve worked together to overcome the challenges of the times. The positive actions by so many have been inspiring, providing hope that the future that we are working together to shape will be bright and prosperous for the Hanford site, the Tri-City community, the region and our nation.

ity to the Biden administration. “I have worked hard in the U.S. Senate to ensure that the federal government meets its moral and legal obligation to clean up Hanford–and I believe the new administration shares my commitment,” she said in a written statement. “Much of the vital work at Hanford was paused or delayed as a result of the public health emergency; however, the progress we’re making in ending this pandemic brings us closer to getting back on track.” Hanford observers in the Tri-Cities and

Washington, D.C., said it is too early to tell if the Biden administration will be more generous to Hanford than its predecessors. “It’s kind of hard to say,” said David Reeploeg, vice president for federal programs for TRIDEC. That said, Biden’s long history in the federal government means he has been involved in high-level discussions about Hanford. But a lot has changed at Hanford in the last four years, including the pending start of the long-awaited vitrification process.

Too, there will be plenty of political appointees within DOE who will need to be briefed. “Part of our effort is going to be to help (the administration) understand how much work has been accomplished in the last four years and that we’re on the precipice of good things,” Reeploeg said.

John Stang is a Federal Way-based freelance writer who has written about Hanford extensively.

Brian Vance is the manager of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office.

John Stang is a Federal Way-based freelance writer who has written about Hanford extensively.


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You’ve heard about the vit plant, but do you know what it will do? By Wendy Culverwell editor@tcjournal.biz

Every community has a local language, terms that are commonplace to locals but baffling to visitors. For the Tri-Cities, “vitrification” – the process of superheating nuclear waste with glass-forming materials for safe long-term storage – is one. It has been bandied about since the 1980s as plutonium production ceased at Hanford and later, in 1989, when the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology signed a binding Tri-Party Agreement that laid out a schedule for cleaning up Hanford’s toxic mess. Thirty-plus years later, vitrification is almost a reality with the completion of all facilities at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, better known as the vit plant, needed to begin tank waste treatment via the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program, as Brian Vance, DOE Hanford manager, reports. Vance and the contractors who played a role in building the complex facilities outline the technical accomplishments in this year’s edition of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business’s Hanford section. As you thumb through this section, you will detect an air of celebration. What, exactly, is DFLAW and what is vitrification? Hanford’s “problem” has long been

Courtesy Bechtel National Inc. Construction is complete on all facilities at the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant needed to begin tank waste treatment via the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.

defined by the waste left over from the Manhattan Project and decades of nuclear weapons production: 56 million gallons of liquid and other nuclear and chemical waste stored in 177 leaking underground storage tanks. DFLAW, which is still subject to testing, training and startup activities, will treat 90% of the low-level waste in the tanks starting in 2023. “I’m incredibly proud of the team for this achievement,” said Valerie McCain,

vit plant manager for Bechtel National Inc., the contractor, during a Jan. 6 virtual “key passing” ceremony to mark the occasion. Notably, it occurred in the final days of the Trump administration. Mike Menezes, then-Energy undersecretary, attended in person and discussed the final push that brought construction to a finish under the now-former president and his first Energy secretary, Rick Perry.

“Hanford is on the precipice of actual tank waste treatment. Decades of hard work are now paying off,” Menezes said. Here is a look at vit plant basics and why 2020 and 2021 are unlike the 30 years or so that preceded them. Vitrification means blending waste with silica and heating it to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit in specially designed melters. The concoction is poured into cylindrical steel canisters to cool. The glass blocks will be stored in a special landfill at Hanford’s Central Plateau, where radioactivity can “safely” dissipate over the coming centuries. “DFLAW” means separating highand low-activity waste to remove the more radioactive portions so that less radioactive waste can be immobilized through vitrification. The approach will address 90% of the tank waste starting in 2023, after testing, training and commissioning, said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, who commented on the “monumental achievement” during the virtual celebration. “We are now a step closer to meeting our moral and legal obligations to restore the Hanford site,” she said. To watch the DFLAW celebration, go to vimeo.com/494503023. Go to bechtel.com/projects/hanfordwaste-treatment-plant for more information.

BECHTEL NATIONAL

Bechtel’s vitrification plant heating up in 2021 Progress is heating up at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. Also known as the vit plant, the project is taking a permanent step forward at the end of this year – heating up our first 300-ton low-activity waste melter. The melters are the heart of the vitrification process, which will turn Hanford’s waste into a solid glass form for safe storage. When operational, the melters will be used to combine low-activity waste and glass-forming chemicals at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit before the mixture is poured into stainless steel containers to cool and solidify. The melters will remain at operating temperature through hot commissioning in 2023 and into long-term operations. Our progress toward melter heatup and preparing to treat tank waste using the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach is possible thanks to the resilience, hard work and dedication of our team. Despite the unprecedented challenges of 2020, we continued to move the project forward. Just a few of the accomplishments from last year include:

• Completed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) facility construction • Completed Effluent Management Facility (EMF) construcValerie McCain tion Bechtel National • Completed Analytical Laboratory (Lab) startup testing • Completed handing over of all 14 utilities and support facilities (balance of facilities) to plant management. Our team members have adapted and stepped up, never wavering on their commitment to safety and quality. Led by Bechtel National Inc., our team includes Amentum, the Waste Treatment Completion Company and members of the Central Washington Building Trades. Processing tank waste is just around the corner. Vit plant facilities and systems continue to be handed over regularly, and our plant operators are in their second year of working 24/7 shifts. Our final group of commissioning

technicians completed their five-month intensive training program in November. They became part of the approximately 140-person commissioning technician team that will operate the vit plant. Our job site continues to look more like an operating facility, with temporary structures coming down and paved roads going in. We kicked off 2021 by celebrating the completion of DFLAW facility construction, meaning construction is done on the vit plant facilities needed to start treating tank waste. Soon after, we announced the Lab was deemed “ready to operate.” This means the facility and its team are prepared to support cold commissioning, when simulated waste is run through the plant to ensure systems are working properly under operating conditions. We will continue to build momentum this year by demonstrating backup systems will temporarily power the melters in case there is an electricity outage. This is important because once started, the melters need to stay hot until they are replaced at the end of their service life. After that demonstration, we’ll proceed with heating up the first melter

by the end of the year. Other 2021 goals include: • Completing all procedures required for operations, which we achieved in March. • Completing testing of all the components and systems in the Effluent Management Facility, which treats secondary waste from the DFLAW facility. • Completing testing of all the components and systems in the DFLAW facility. • Completing testing of HEPA filters in the Analytical Laboratory. The vit plant team works closely with our U.S. Department of Energy customer and other Hanford contractors as One Hanford. We collaborate with the Washington State Department of Ecology and regulators to achieve our mission, and we continue to support small businesses in the region, state and the Tri-Cities itself. Community is more important than ever right now. Our team continued to step up last year, donating more than $275,000 to local charitable organizations, such as United Way, Junior Achievement and Toys for Tots. uBECHTEL, Page B12


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CENTRAL PLATEAU CLEANUP COMPANY

Building on past progress for a brighter future Jan. 25 marked our official start of work as the new contractor for nuclear waste cleanup on the Hanford site’s Central Plateau and along the Columbia River. On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford cleanup mission, the Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo) will continue the risk-reduction activities managed by previous contractor, CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company. The three partner companies that form CPCCo – Amentum, Fluor and Atkins Nuclear Secured – bring more than a century of nuclear cleanup experience to the job. Collectively, the companies have decommissioned nearly 1,200 facilities and disposed of more waste for the U.S. environmental cleanup program than any other. So where do we start at Hanford? First, I want to acknowledge the tremendous progress accomplished since the Hanford cleanup effort began in 1989. More than 1,300 waste sites remediated, nearly 1,000 facilities demolished, millions of tons of contaminated soil and debris moved away from the Columbia River to Hanford’s engineered landfill, and more than 25 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater treated.

Over the next decade, CPCCo will build on this success with cost-effective and efficient solutions to allow us to safely complete some Scott Sax of Hanford’s Central Plateau highest-priority Cleanup Company projects to further reduce site risk and liability and shrink overall lifecycle costs and schedule. Some of that work is already underway. In fact, one of CPCCo’s top priorities this year is the completion of final demolition activities at the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP). Last year, Hanford celebrated completion of demolition on the PFP main processing facility. Today, final risk-reduction activities within the former PFP footprint include packaging and safe disposal of the rubble from the Plutonium Reclamation Facility, sampling of soil beneath the building pads and stabilization of the site with a soil cover. The work is expected to begin this

spring with completion expected by late summer. Finishing work on this iconic facility will put a cap on a historic accomplishment in the overall cleanup mission. Other key priorities for CPCCo over the next several years include the transfer of nearly 2,000 highly radioactive capsules in the Waste Encapsulation Storage Facility to safer dry storage; maximizing groundwater cleanup along the Columbia River; final remediation activities in the 100 K Area and placement of the K West and K East reactors in interim safe storage; and the removal of highly radioactive soil beneath the 324 Building. In addition, CPCCo also is preparing the Integrated Disposal Facility (IDF) – an engineered landfill – to receive vitrified low-activity waste from the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in support of the site’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program, a top priority for DOE. The IDF will provide permanent, environmentally-safe disposition for the immobilized low-activity waste containers and mixed low-level waste streams from Hanford operations. The IDF is an excellent example of the collaborative One Hanford approach: all of the site’s prime contractors work

together toward a common goal of getting the waste out of the tanks and treating it for safe disposal. Just as important to CPCCo as tackling the technical aspects of Hanford’s cleanup mission is our role in making a positive impact on this place we all call home. We can’t wait to engage in the Tri-City community through volunteer activities, support of schools’ science, technology, engineering and math (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. This is an exciting time for CPCCo, and our team has been specially assembled to safely and successfully accelerate Hanford’s cleanup mission. With a supremely talented and experienced workforce of more than 1,800, we look forward to partnering with DOE, regulators and stakeholders to make Hanford a model for success across the DOE complex. To learn more, go to cpcco.hanford.gov and cpcchanford.com. Scott Sax is president and project manager for Central Plateau Cleanup Company.


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Small Hanford subcontractors cry foul amid contractor changes By John Stang

for Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

It’s the suddenness that bothers Phil Gallagher, senior vice president of Babcock Services Inc., a longtime Hanford subcontractor. No one had a chance to prepare for a major – albeit likely short term – change in how Hanford’s two biggest prime contractors handled many of their subcontractors. In January, the U.S. Department Energy directed new prime contractors – Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS) for support services and Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo) for solid-waste cleanup – to terminate all subcontracts involving staffing services prior to Jan. 25 and replace them with managed-task subcontracts. The move eliminated staffing service subcontracts that consisted of one, two or a small group of subcontracted experts being attached to the prime contractors for specific tasks. These subcontracts involved specialized engineers, computer programmers, project management experts and other individuals to augment specific staffing needs of the prime contractors. This is a basic bread-and-butter task for roughly 50 small- and medium-sized Tri-Cities firms totaling 500 to 700 employees, said Dave Reeploeg, vice president for federal programs at the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC).

There is an estimated six- to ninemonth gap between Jan. 25 and when new managed-task subcontracts are expected to be lined up. Until then, the two prime contractors won’t be using the staffing services subcontractors. However, HMIS and CPCCo still need the extra staff normally provided by the

cals don’t have work, locals don’t have opportunities to compete for six to nine months. How do those small companies stay viable with a six- to nine-month gap of work,” Reeploeg said. DOE officials would not discuss the issue on the record and referred to a discussion about the matter in a recent Han-

IT’S A CREVASSE. IT’S TEMPORARY, QUITE TEMPORARY. BUT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, IT’S QUITE DEEP. -Dave McCormack, executive director, Tri-Cities Local Business Association subcontractors and have been hiring many individuals away from the local staffing subcontractors. Gallagher estimated he lost 15 of Babcock’s 65 employees to the practice, reducing the firm’s workforce to about 50. All this raises concerns about some of the Tri-Cities’ smaller staffing support subcontractors surviving until the latter half of 2021. Local business interests believe the outlook for the staffing support subcontractors will start to improve in late 2021. “Locals don’t have the employees, lo-

Established in Kennewick in 2001, HPM Corporation has been providing superior occupational medicine and health services to the Hanford workforce since 2004 and has been the prime contractor of choice for this service since 2012. HPMC provides a Hanford site occupational medical services program that is of the highest quality, cost-effective, and the superior service that the Hanford workforce has come to know and trust. HPMC’s implementation of a reliable and efficient comprehensive COVID services program for all Hanford workers during a global pandemic, further enhanced HPMC’s standard for worksite health and well-being of their customers’ workforce, so the workforce can be focused on their mission.

Working diligently to curate small business opportunities, HPMC looks forward to continued growth with small business partners.

ford Advisory Board meeting covered by Weapons Complex Monitor, which tracks nuclear sites. The HAB meeting minutes were not publicly available by press time for this edition. DOE is trying to fix issues raised in a 2020 report by its Office of Inspector General, which found some prime contractors “were trying to achieve their small business goals” by hiring small firms to do work the prime contractor should be doing, Hanford manager Brian Vance said at a Hanford Advisory Board meeting, according to the publication.

DOE is expected to release a formal response to the subcontractors. It had not been released by deadline for this edition. The work gap is a problem, said Dave McCormack, executive director of the Tri-Cities Local Business Association. “It’s a crevasse. It’s temporary, quite temporary. But for small businesses, it’s quite deep,” he said. And when key employees leave to join the prime contractors, small businesses face long-term consequences. “Once they have all your people, you don’t have anything to bid with. We have the ability to survive. But many of these companies don’t,” said Gallagher, of Babcock Services. The lack of warning in the temporary subcontracting changes in January caught local companies flat-footed with no time to adjust. “We were not prepared,” Gallagher said. McCormack added: “We’re just appalled at the process. DOE needs to treat the business community as another stakeholder in this process.” Weapons Complex Monitor reported that DOE officials acknowledged that local subcontractors were caught off guard during an online radioactive waste symposium in March. The event was sponsored by Access Intelligence. At a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on David Turk, the Biden administration’s nominee for deputy energy secretary, he promised to look into the matter uSUBCONTRACTORS, Page B12


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HANFORD

We are proud supporters of the Tri-Cities community and the mission of Hanford contractors. As local citizens we strive to make a difference for the future of our children and fellow small businesses!


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�Friend of Hanford’ at odds with community leaders on breaching dams By Wendy Culverwell editor@tcjournal.biz

An Idaho congressman is a wellknown supporter of Hanford funding, but his ambitious plan to rescue salmon by breaching the four Lower Snake River dams is creating an awkward moment for his friends in the Tri-Cities. In February, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, released a $33.5 billion plan to remove the four dams, U.S. Rep calling the curMike Simpson rent approach an “unsustainable cycle of conflicts.” His proposal lays out a path to remove the dams, which are in Washington state, to prevent salmon from going extinct. It comes with a heavy price tag to compensate communities along the Columbia River, including the Tri-Cities, for the loss. But it put him at odds with the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC) and other local business and government groups that oppose removing the dams even with new money attached. TRIDEC and other groups may disagree with Simpson, but they’re in lockstep on another important local issue: Federal funding for the Hanford cleanup.

Simpson has been a good friend to the Hanford nuclear reservation and is the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, where he is able to influence funding. “Congressman Simpson has been a huge friend to the Tri-Cities,” said Karl Dye, president and chief executive officer of the Tri-City Industrial Council (TRIDEC). TRIDEC is the region’s economic development Karl Dye agency and emTRIDEC ploys a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., to advocate on the area’s behalf, which includes a heavy focus on pushing for Hanford funding. As part of its economic development mission, TRIDEC devotes considerable resources to defending the four dams from would-be breachers. In January, TRIDEC helped to organize a Know the Dam Facts event. TRIDEC isn’t supporting Simpson’s vision. The dams are too critical for energy, navigation and irrigation to lose. But the difference of opinion need not breach a good working relationship, say TRIDEC officials and the Mid-Columbia’s representative in Congress, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside.

SOMETIMES WE MIGHT NOT AGREE BUT WE CAN WORK ON OTHER ISSUES TOGETHER. -Karl Dye, TRIDEC Newhouse reiterated his unconditional support for preserving the dams and said Simpson’s proposal won’t affect a long and friendly relationship. “I am confident that we will continue to maintain our effective working relationship despite our disagreement on his proposal,” Newhouse said in a statement released by his spokeswoman. TRIDEC and other local organizations registered their opposition in a letter drafted by the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA) and sent to the Northwest’s Congressional delegation. Breaching would disrupt a system that is “foundational” to the Northwest economy, it said. “Though certainly well-intentioned, Rep. Simpson’s proposal would set the Northwest on a path toward higher emissions, less energy certainty and a continued narrow focus on four dams with outstanding fish passage,” it said. In addition to TRIDEC, the Benton and

Franklin public utility districts, the city of Richland, ports of Benton, Pasco, Walla Walla and Morrow, Tri-City Regional and Pasco chambers of commerce and Visit Tri-Cities signed the PNWA letter, as did Washington Association of Wheat Growers, Washington Grain Commission and Washington State Potato Commission. Still, opposing Simpson on a topic about which he is passionate – salmon – requires a delicate touch. Tim Peckinpaugh, a partner with K&L Gates, is TRIDEC’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Peckinpaugh advised tact during a recent focus on Hanford during Dye’s weekly “Coffee with Karl” Zoom program. Like Dye, Peckinpaugh said Simpson is a good friend to Hanford. But, he noted, Simpson faces opposition in his home state. The Republican-led Idaho Senate passed a resolution opposing the removal or breaching of the dams on March 9. uSIMPSON, Page B12


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BECHTEL, From page B7

The vit plant was the top local fundraising team for Polar Plunge and Special Olympics last year. This year, they built on that success to become the top fundraising team in the state, raising more than $25,000, making them the top fundraising team in the state. SUBCONTRACTORS, From page B9

when Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, asked about the situation. “In the long term, (the change) will probably be a positive thing, but in the short term we are seeing some loss of small businesses because of this,” he told her. Gallagher, Reeploeg and McCormack

SIMPSON, From page B11

Reactions elsewhere are mixed, with some environmental groups expressing interest and others registering concern about details of the plan. The governors of Washington and Oregon and many regional tribes including the Yakama Nation have expressed support, but four Democratic senators who represent Washington and Oregon have been noncommittal. In his remarks to TRIDEC, Peckinpaugh anticipated Simpson will push to add breaching the four dams in the $2 trillion “Build Back Better” recovery

In addition, prime contractor Bechtel National Inc. made corporate donations, including $100,000 to the United Way Covid-19 Response Fund. As the vit plant continues to drive toward completion, we want to thank the thousands of skilled craft and professionals – current and past – who have worked on achieving this piece

of history. We also thank the Central Washington Building Trades and their leadership for being incredible partners over the years. Each of our team members has brought expertise and helped make this plant a modern marvel that will achieve its mission – cleaning up Hanford’s legacy waste. They have truly been part

of One Team and One Hanford and contributed to the achievement of the future milestones we can’t wait to celebrate this year.

agreed the subcontracting situation should improve for those firms that can survive the next several months. The dilemma follows a July 2020 DOE Inspector General’s report that looked at how well the predecessors to the current contractors met subcontracting requirements of their contracts. Mission Support Alliance, predecessor to HMIS, and CH2M Hill Plateau Reme-

diation Co., predecessor to CPCCo, both were required to award work to small local subcontractors. Specifically, they were required to limit in-house work to no more than 60% and to award at least 25% to small subcontractors, with the balance held for larger subs. Mission Support Alliance saw its inhouse work climb to 73% in 2018, while 21% went to small subcontractors.

The IG’s office said CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. miscategorized some of its work, but it met the 60% and 25% targets for in-house and small contracts, respectively.

plan, which was released by President Joe Biden in late March. No one has suggested Simpson will withdraw support for Hanford over David Reeploeg his dam plan if TRIDEC locals don’t support him. His office could not be reached for comment. And locally, officials call it an example of agreeing to disagree. “Sometimes we might not agree but we

can work on other issues together,” said Dye, who said he respected Simpson’s years-long effort to build a consensus on the subject by speaking with many groups. “He came up with an expensive solution to offset the costs. We just can’t sign onto it,” he said. David Reeploeg, TRIDEC’s vice president for federal programs, said Simpson’s approach was spot on. “He took a very thoughtful and longterm approach to studying the facets of the system. But we disagree with his conclusion that a compromise should include removing the dams,” he said.

The Simpson proposal at a glance: Licenses for dams on the Columbia River system would be extended 35-50 years, with a 35-year moratorium on litigation related to the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections. Funds would be provided to replace the lost energy, with new power coming online before the dams are decommissioned. The plan provides money to restore the waterfront at Lewiston-Clarkston and establishes economic development funds and tourism funds for both the Tri-Cities and Lewiston-Clarkston. Go to simpson.house.gov/salmon.

Join Dr. Brian Lawenda in a free Zoom Webinar

“Wellness and Patient Advocacy” Tuesday, April 27th at 5:30-6:30pm PDT

zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_V7i9WerURamuzKyoav4U8g

Valerie McCain is senior vice president and project director at Bechtel National Inc.’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.

John Stang is a Federal Way-based freelance writer who has written about Hanford extensively.


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Retired Hanford chemist now tells overlooked stories of Black excellence By Wendy Culverwell editor@tcjournal.biz

John Abercrombie had little use for history during the 28 years he worked as a chemist, analytical lab manager and employment officer at the Hanford site. History was a tangle of people he didn’t know, places he hadn’t been. He had a series of jobs to do, a family to raise. “I hated history, I absolutely hated it,” said Abercrombie, who worked at Hanford for 28 years, beginning in 1967. He retired in 1997 and, despite his previous disinterest in history, is enjoying a second career telling the overlooked stories of Black excellence in the U.S. and beyond. Abercrombie splits his time between his official home in Richland and his native Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he quarantined for the Covid-19 pandemic after returning to care for his aging parents. He devotes his free time to his blog at Amazingblackhistory.com, and the podcast he hosts on blogtalkradio.com. His recent efforts include a profile of Raye Montague, who grew up in the segregated South and overcame low expectations to become not just an engineer but the first person ever to design a U.S. Navy ship by computer, and Dr. Alexa Canady, the first black female neurosurgeon focused on pediatrics. For his work, Abercrombie was February’s “Everyday Patriot,” an honor given by Cold War Patriots. The organization serves veterans of the nuclear industry. His own story is as riveting as those he tells. Abercrombie was born at the Spartanburg Colored General Hospital in the separate but not equal South of the Jim Crow era. His parents were educators and entrepreneurs. His father taught masonry in the local school district for more than 40 years and inspired a love of math and science in his son. His mother taught in a school for veterans and ran a restaurant she advertised in The Green Book, a guide to services and places that offered a friendly welcome to Black travelers. The guide, published annually until it ceased in the 1960s, brought Black visitors to her door. Abercrombie has fond memories of the Black athletes and entertainers who came to town but couldn’t eat in white establishments. “I got to meet Satchel Paige and many others. I think we fixed dinner for Nat King Cole,” he recalled. His parents’ friends were teachers and professionals. A high school instructor who taught “unscheduled advanced courses” introduced him to chemistry, which he would study in college. He attended Livingstone College, a historically black college in Salisbury, North Carolina, on an athletic and aca-

Courtesy Cold War Patriots Retired Hanford chemist John C. Abercrombie is enjoying a second career blogging and podcasting about Black history following his 1997 retirement from the Hanford site. Cold War Patriots, serving veterans of the nuclear industry, named Abercrombie one of its Everyday Heroes for 2021.

demic scholarship. To pay the bills, he worked as a bricklayer, in textile mills and even built and sold a home. And he majored in chemistry, building on his exposure in high school. “That was the easiest thing I could

A friend had heard about the Hanford nuclear reservation at an East Coast job fair. The faraway state of Washington was “just a name on a map in the middle of nowhere,” as far as he was concerned. Still, he inquired and was invited to in-

I THOUGHT I’D LANDED ON THE MOON. WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I GET MY FAMILY INTO? - John Abercrombie on his first impressions of Eastern Washington when he arrived to work at Hanford in 1967. think of to major in,” he said. The social sciences did not hold his interest at the time.

A job in chemistry His father urged him to join him in the homebuilding trade after graduation. But Abercrombie wanted to work in chemistry for at least a few years before settling into the family business.

terview. The interview was in Nashville, on his first wedding anniversary. He recalls the weather was grim and flights were canceled. Abercrombie hadn’t planned to travel by air – most Black people didn’t, he said. As planned, he drove and reported to the interview. Not many other candidates did because their flights were canceled.

The recruiter from Isochem, Hanford’s chemical processing contractor, was impressed when he showed up. Abercrombie was offered a job. He and his wife decided to move with their baby daughter in tow. “My wanderlust kicked in, so off we drove,” he said. It was 1967 and the Abercrombies set off without a copy of the Green Book, which had halted publication a year earlier. Coming from a segregated community, he feared it might be hard to find Black-friendly services on the road. Fortunately, the trip went off without a hitch. The family entered the Tri-Cities via Wallula. He recalled being startled by the desert landscape in a state that bills itself as “Evergreen.” He’d heard about the drizzly weather of western Washington and the lush mountains. Eastern Washington wasn’t what they expected. “I thought I’d landed on the moon,” he recalled. “What in the world did I get my family into?”

Deciding to stay Like most Hanford workers, Abercrombie held a series of positions with different employers as contracts and contractors changed. Isochem would give way to Arco Richfield Hanford Co., and then Rockwell Hanford Operations (1977) and then Westinghouse Corp. (1987). uABERCROMBIE, Page B14


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ABERCROMBIE, From page B13 He started in a laboratory and was promoted to supervisor. Thoughts of a swift return to South Carolina were set aside as he settled into a fruitful career. “I thought, this can’t hurt,” he said. Eventually, he was named an equal opportunity employment coordinator and spent more than 20 of his years in Richland in labor relations. He returned to the laboratories and retired during a round of layoffs. In his spare time, he was one of a handful of Black members of the Benton County Sheriff’s Reserve and served as a deputy coroner. He was on the sheriff’s boat during the 1996 Tri-Cities Water Follies when a call came over the radio: Boat race fans had found a human skeleton on the shoreline. No one knew it at the time, but it was Kennewick Man, one of the most complete ancient skeletons ever found.

Hanford diversity Raising a Black family in Richland was, in Abercrombie’s words, “not bad.” He does recall difficult moments, such as his daughter being the target of a racist slur in school. And some colleagues at Hanford were surprised when he didn’t conform to the stereotypes they had seen on TV and in movies. “What hit me was being told, ‘You’re not like the rest of them.’ ” he said. When pressed, people would tell him they didn’t know any other Black people and were drawing their views from the media. He considered it a personal accom-

HANFORD

plishment when one colleague who had said she would not work with a Black man brought him onions from her garden. There was much to celebrate too. Hanford was a diverse place with workers drawn from around the country. It was enjoying a renaissance as well among Black professionals. Dr. William Wiley, for whom the elementary in West Richland is named, would be selected to lead the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which began in 1966. And Abercrombie said he learned aspects of Black history that were unfamiliar. He’d never heard of Juneteenth, the Texas-led celebration marking the day in 1865 that slavery ended in Texas. There were other signs too that he was no longer in the South. There were no segregated bathrooms at Hanford. Lower-skill jobs weren’t reserved for Black workers. “The first time I ever saw a white janitor was at Hanford,” he said.

Rethinking history A chance visit to Sutter’s Mill, birthplace of the California 1849 Gold Rush, inspired his love of telling stories about Black greatness. He recalled he casually asked the curator if any Black people were involved in the Gold Rush, triggered by the discovery of flakes of gold at the Coloma mill. He learned that some of the people who came to look for gold were Black, including some who were enslaved until they were freed when California was admitted to the United States in 1850.

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Courtesy Cold War Patriots John Abercrombie, a retired Hanford chemist and human resources executive, is enjoying a second career telling the stories of Black Americans in his podcasts and blog.

In California, he learned about Mary Ellen Pleasant, a wealthy San Francisco entrepreneur, abolitionist and Underground Railroad supporter who financed John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, a triggering event for the Civil War. “The spark came from that visit to Sutter’s Mill,” he said.

An old college classmate invited him to do a podcast on Black history. He jumped on the chance to tell stories, seeing it as a way to highlight encouraging stories of success. “We get painted with a broad brush. It’s not fair. At the same time, there are many contributions,” he said. “I basically try to unravel stories.”

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WASHINGTON RIVER PROTECTION SOLUTIONS Pandemic didn’t stop us from making progress on our goals Each year, I appreciate the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business’ Hanford edition, which is the perfect opportunity to update our community on Washington River Protection Solutions’ accomplishments as the U.S. Department of Energy’s tank operations contractor at the Hanford site. As we all know, this past year has been like no other. Covid-19 has caused hardship and disruption, forcing most of us to make changes in our everyday lives to ensure the safety of our families, friends and neighbors. I’m proud to report that the WRPS team, 3,200 people strong, confronted the pandemic head-on and overcame the challenges of teleworking, social distancing, new face-covering guidelines and personal hygiene protocols to safely make progress on our critical work managing 56 million gallons of highly radioactive and chemical waste stored in Hanford’s 177 underground tanks. Despite the difficulty of the pandemic, we compiled a long list of accomplishments in 2020. Most notable is the progress we made on the One Hanford mission to treat tank waste using the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach. We took a giant step forward in the

“path to glass” by installing the Tank-Side Cesium Removal system next to AP Tank Farm. The system will separate cesium and unJohn Eschenberg dissolved solid Washington River materials from Protection Solutions tank waste, so we can feed the pretreated waste directly to the LowActivity Waste Facility at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), where it will be vitrified, or immobilized in glass, for safe disposal. We are on schedule to test the system this spring and have it operational by the year’s end. In addition, we confirmed through pressure testing that our first physical connection to WTP, transfer lines that will move condensate produced during vitrification to our Effluent Treatment Facility, is ready to serve when needed. Our treatment facility staff processed about 3.2 million gallons of wastewater from our current tank waste storage and retrieval mission while completing a series of upgrades to support future DFLAW operations.

One of the cornerstones of our risk-reduction mission is to retrieve and transfer waste from older single-shell tanks to more robust double-shell tanks for safe storage until it can be treated. We are in the process of finalizing recent work to retrieve waste from two more single-shell tanks, which would bring the project up to 18 tanks completed. We are preparing to begin retrieving waste from another tank this summer. Ensuring the safe storage of waste in the Courtesy Washington River Protection Solutions tanks also is essential Washington River Protection Solutions workers to our risk-reduction remove old equipment from single-shell tank AX-103 mission and the safety in preparation for installing the equipment needed to of the workforce and safely remove waste from the tank later this year. community. That is why we put great energy into While we perform high-risk work our tank integrity program. We have daily, we never forget that we are only teams of highly-skilled engineers who successful if we work safely. develop and deploy unique robotic sysIn 2020, we received several industry tems to inspect our tanks visually and uWRPS, Page B18 ultrasonically on a regular basis.

HPMC OCCUPATIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES

Working to ensure worker health in challenging times Last year was extremely challenging for everyone. HPMC Occupational Medical Services (OMS) continued health care support to Hanford workers as the site transitioned to reduced operations and teleworking early in the year and progressed through the first two phases of remobilization of workers to the site as the year continued. HPMC OMS’ 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. Changing conditions in work and safety protocols necessitated changes to the way we deliver occupational medical services and resulted in several successful activities.

Telehealth options When the Hanford site moved to reduced operations in March, we were immediately able to shift health education to a virtual environment. Utilizing Microsoft Teams, individual and work group health education provided resources and care during an uncertain time. As it became clear that Covid-19

precautions would continue into the foreseeable future, we established additional telehealth options for some of our work conditioning serHiram S. Whitmer vices to prepare HPMC Occupational workers for job Medical Services demands, employee assistance programs and return-to-work evaluations. This advancement in access to care and assistance to workers to help them reduce their time away from work will continue as an option in post-Covid-19 operations.

Covid-19 testing, contact tracing In response to the ongoing pandemic, HPMC OMS developed the capability to provide Covid-19 testing and occupational contact tracing for the Hanford site. In a matter of weeks, we obtained staff and materials, developed processes and procedures, and prepared to begin testing when needed. In July, we began workplace contact tracing of workers who test positive for

Covid-19. Occupational contact tracing was coordinated with the Benton Franklin Health District, through a memorandum of understanding, supporting their community contact tracing for Hanford workers. This effort reduces the risk of virus transmission at work by quickly identifying close contacts of workers with Covid-19, isolating sick workers, quarantining asymptomatic contacts and facilitating a safe return to work.

High patient satisfaction HPMC OMS is extremely proud of the patient care provided during this difficult time. In 2020, we had over 19,000 patient visits. We received our first ever 100% patient satisfaction rating across all departments in May. Through 2020, we maintained a 99.7% overall positive patient satisfaction rating. Support small businesses In the second year of our Hanford contract, we worked 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 pro-

cesses, support our customers, encourage local job creation and contribute substantially to the overall health of our local and regional economies. We participated in various business development and networking opportunities, such as Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) events. Events like these helped us increase our contacts and contracts with local small businesses. Our small business contracting goal for 2021 is $3.8 million and will include opportunities for businesses owned by veterans and service-disabled veterans. Specific areas of opportunity include after-hours drug-screen collections as well as cardiology, travel, maintenance and courier services. ​HPMC OMS will continue to rise to the challenges set before us. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with the other Hanford contractors as we continue to make the health of the worker our No. 1 priority. Hiram S. Whitmer is president and program manager at HPMC Occupational Medical Services.


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HANFORD MISSION INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS Integration, innovation key focuses for new Hanford contractor On January 25, 2021, an era that will be marked with increased integration efforts, infrastructure upgrades and state-of-the-art technology officially began at the Hanford site. Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS) began its work on the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract, taking over after more than 11 years of leadership by Mission Support Alliance. While two of the corporate entities of the companies remain the same, with Leidos as majority owner and Centerra as secondary, HMIS also includes Parsons, as well as critical subcontractor North Wind Solutions. Building on MSA’s foundation of excellence, HMIS will provide critical support to the U.S. Department of Energy and other Hanford contractors, enabling cleanup work as part of the One Hanford mission. With a $4 billion contract up to 10 years, HMIS will expand from a service provider to the sitewide integrator and will focus on providing what is in the best interests of the government and taxpayers. The integration of services is complex, but a core capability of the HMIS team. It requires our team to have an in-depth understanding of cleanup, experience and ability to innovate to ensure Hanford’s old and aging infrastructure is reliable and

able to support treating tank waste using the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach and assist ongoing risk-reduction Robert Wilkinson work. Hanford Mission HMIS is Integration Solutions responsible for providing reliable water, power, road maintenance, information technology, safeguards and security, sitewide safety standards, training and countless more integrated services and deliverables across the Hanford site. With the transition to a tank waste operations posture, demand will increase annually to more than 350,000 megawatts of electricity, 1.4 billion gallons of water treated and supplied, 1 million gigabytes of data, 150,000 student training days at the federal HAMMER training facility, and of course, protecting thousands of Hanford site workers and hundreds of square miles of land. This year, we will begin construction of a new water treatment plant, a critical component for Hanford’s future success to produce up to 5 million gallons of clean

water a day, as site needs increase with DFLAW operations and around-the-clock shift work. Our service delivery model will support Hanford through four main foundations: • HMIS will deliver value through a skilled workforce, established processes and proven tools, which will result in delivery of hundreds of specialized Hanford services to integrate, strategize, innovate, and, ultimately, enable cleanup. • Through early engagement, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and an unparalleled understanding of the scale and types of services needed for Hanford success, we will align and collaborate. HMIS will collaborate with DOE, our fellow Hanford contractors and our community, to ensure the best value and delivery of excellence in all services. • HMIS will transform and govern through the Hanford governance model for more informed decision-making and increased situational awareness across the site. Our governance model will continue to increase transparency and effective communication to ensure safe and effective operations of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. The 24/7 pace of operations has not existed at Hanford for 30 years, and the governance framework is a critical cornerstone in establishing an enhanced operations culture. • Our team will evolve and enhance as we implement proven technologies in innovative ways to better support our Hanford customers. Some of these innovations will include a connected enterprise technical road map, improved mobile data capabilities and use of real-time imaging with mixed-reality for more streamlined

decision-making and awareness. Beyond serving the Hanford site and One Hanford mission, we also look forward to serving and bettering our community. Over the next 10 years, we will invest $10 million as part of our community commitment plan, focused on improving education, supporting the local small business community and enhancing the quality of life for many in need. Some of the highlights our community can look forward to are investments in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education; awarding up to $500,000 in scholarships; employee development efforts; regional purchasing programs, including a “business in a box” model; continuation of the successful Connect Tri-Cities event in 2022; charitable donations to local nonprofits; a dynamic employee volunteerism program; and much more. The HMIS team is excited to support the One Hanford mission and we look forward to demonstrating our commitment to excellence over the next 10 years. We are proud of the work we do and will identify ways to continuously improve through collaboration and teamwork. Our “SIMPLE” values, which stands for safety, inclusion, motivation, passion, learning and ethics, will be at the core of every task we perform as we serve our Hanford customers, the environment and our community. Robert Wilkinson is president of Hanford Mission Integration Solutions.


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VEOLIA NUCLEAR SOLUTIONS Veolia supports vit plant startup Veolia is a global resourcing company with more than $30 billion in annual revenue and 178,000 employees. Through Veolia Nuclear Amanda Gilmore Solutions - FedVeolia eral Services (VNSFS), Veolia delivers its global capabilities in engineering, facility operations, waste management and decontamination and decommissioning, and remediation to the U.S. government and across North America. VNSFS is proud and honored to be working on the Hanford cleanup, ensuring our work is conducted in a safe and environmentally sound manner that meets U.S. Department of Ecology requirements.

222-S Laboratory in transition VNSFS supported the recent transition of Hanford’s 222-S Laboratory to a new operating contractor. VNSFS has operated the lab for the past five years, providing complex analytical services supporting Hanford site cleanup, including the safe storage and retrieval of tank waste. Throughout our tenure, VNSFS lab staff performed an increasing number of analyses on highly radioactive waste samples while maintaining a stellar safety record. None of this would have been possible without the lab’s excellent management and staff. VNSFS gives a heartfelt thanks to the dedicated men and women for performing their work in a safe manner and supporting the Hanford cleanup mission. ERDF is key player VNSFS continues to operate the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF) and recently completed transition as a subcontractor under the Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo). The 107-acre facility is DOE’s largest landfill, authorized to dispose of low-level radioactive, hazardous and mixed wastes generated by Hanford cleanup 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. Over time, ERDF has developed mechanisms to optimize waste disposal methods while continuing to operate in a safe and compliant manner. To date, ERDF has disposed of more than 20 million tons of waste safely, compliantly and efficiently. VNSFS will continue to build on the success of the past and has in place a dedicated and experienced team to ensure its continued success. VNSFS also is providing maintenance services to CPCCo for Hanford’s Integrated Disposal Facility (IDF), where the

low-activity waste canisters produced by the Direct-Feed Low Activity Waste project will be disposed. With work at both ERDF and IDF, VNSFS provides consistency of operations across both disposal facilities and more cost-effective operations.

Engineering services With more than 20 years of DOE engineering experience, Veolia can deliver nuclear, environmental, infrastructure, waste and robotics services. We are NQA-1 certified and have reach back to more than 1,000 engineers. VNSFS Engineering Division provides design, analysis, testing and consulting

Photos courtesy Veolia Nuclear Solutions - Federal Services The Hanford 222 S Laboratory, formerly managed by Veolia Nuclear Solutions Federal Services, analyzes highly radioactive waste as part of the site cleanup.

A 360-degree view of the Hanford 222-S Lab, where, since 2016, Veolia performed more than 110,000 analyses on complex radiological and industrial hygiene samples to further the Hanford cleanup mission and prepare for final vitrification of tank waste.

services for a wide range of nuclear and industrial applications. With this wide-ranging expertise, we are able to solve complex problems using innovative and efficient solutions. VNSFS works with DOE and its Hanford site contractors to responsibly maintain viable site infrastructure to support the Hanford mission, including the science and technology missions. Our engineers are the backbone of our organization, providing the intelligent design, project integration and interface for our technologies.

Technology deployment Thinking through DOE’s facility and waste challenges to come up with solutions for unsolved problems is part of what we do. VNSFS maintains a suite of Veolia-patented technologies to help address better ways to retrieve, treat and dispose of wastes. As example, our technology group is centered in Richland, where we worked with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory many years ago to commercialize and perfect our patented GeoMelt vitri-

fication technology, which today is helping DOE treat and dispose of previously orphaned sodium-contaminated wastes. 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 the communications lead for business development for Veolia Nuclear Solutions - Federal Services.


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HANFORD LABORATORIES MANAGEMENT & INTEGRATION

HLMI is new manager for tank waste analysis at 222-S Laboratory The primary mission of the Hanford Site 222-S Laboratory is to provide analytical support for the storage and treatment of Hanford tank waste. In January, Hanford Laboratories Management and Integration (HLMI) took over as the prime contractor operating the lab. HLMI is a partnership between two small businesses: Navarro Research and Engineering Inc. and Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International Inc. These businesses bring world-class expertise and high-quality analytical services to the Hanford site. HLMI understands the critical role the 222-S Lab plays in safely ensuring timely and high-quality analytical services to achieve the Hanford site

mission. Hanford samples can be highly radioactive and are typically complex. As lab manager, I know our highly trained Don B. Hardy team is capable HLMI of handling the high volume of analytical services and providing innovative analytical techniques to meet and exceed Hanford mission requirements. As we move forward, we are committed to meeting the needs of Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste operations as the Waste Treatment and

Immobilization Plant transitions to operations. The 222-S Laboratory staff will provide the analytical services to characterize tank waste to ensure it is suitable to be pretreated and fed to the plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility for vitrification, or immobilization in glass. HLMI values its employees and recognizes they are key to the company’s success. The technical and operational challenges associated with operating a radiochemical laboratory are immense; however, we are confident our team is up to the challenge. As we have navigated through the Covid-19 pandemic, our employees have identified innovative solutions to ensure we keep one another safe and

maintain the continuity of analytical services that are critical to the Hanford mission success. Going forward, I express my gratitude to our employees and their families for their daily commitments to performance excellence and safety, and I know they will bring this same commitment to the Hanford environment. On behalf of the HLMI team, I pledge our commitment to the greater Tri-Cities community we are resolute in our pursuit of excellence in support of the One Hanford mission.

WRPS, From page B15

Finally, I was honored to be recognized by the National Safety Council as a “CEO Who Gets It” for going above and beyond to protect employees both on and off the job. While my name is on the award, I’m proud to say this one was earned by all of my tank farms teammates. Speaking of teammates, WRPS is grateful to be a member of the Tri-Cities community and understands our success

is made possible by our partnerships with local businesses. Since the beginning of our contract in 2008, we have issued more than $1.2 billion in subcontracts to businesses in Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties. We also have donated $7.7 million to programs and initiatives that we believe improve the quality of life for all of us who call the Mid-Columbia home. Now in our 13th year of managing the

Hanford tank farms for the Department of Energy, we are committed to building on our record of achievement. We will do so by continuing to work safely, focusing on mission delivery and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

awards commending our safety performance, including the DOE Voluntary Protection Program’s Star of Excellence for the sixth consecutive year. We also were named one of America’s Safest Companies by EHS Today, a leading publication in the safety industry, for excellence in safety leadership and promoting a world-class safety culture.

Don B. Hardy is manager of the 222-S Laboratory.

John Eschenberg is president and chief executive officer of Washington River Protection Solutions.

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TRI-CITIES AREA JOURNAL OF BUSINESS | APRIL 2021

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Newhouse invites new Energy secretary to tour Hanford By Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse personally invited the new U.S. Secretary of Energy to tour the Hanford site so she can familiarize herself with the country’s largest defense nuclear cleanup site. Newhouse, whose district includes Hanford, wants Secretary Jennifer Granholm to see the complicated undertaking for herself. In the Jennifer Granholm same letter, he Secretary of Energy expressly denied a request from some leaders in Washington state to reject a Trump Administration rule to lower standards for the cleanup, calling it an unwarranted injection of politics into the important work. “Hanford cleanup represents one of the most significant liabilities across the federal govU.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse ernment, and it is vital that all partners in this important cleanup mission, including the federal government, congres-

Want to take yourself on a Hanford tour?

You can do so with a couple of clicks from your preferred device. The virtual tour includes up-close views of Hanford locations, never before seen on a Hanford public cleanup tour. Go to hanford.gov/page. cfm/hanfordsitetours. Courtesy Bechtel National Inc. U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, left, invited Jennifer Granholm, the new Energy secretary, to tour the Hanford site, continuing his tradition of hosting senior officials in Richland. Above, he welcomed former secretary Rick Perry, center in dark jacket, in August 2017. Perry was former President Donald Trump’s first Energy secretary.

sional delegation, the state of Washington and local communities, work together in a concerted and responsible manner for the health and safety of communities,” he wrote. Newhouse routinely invites new leaders to see the cleanup firsthand. “I have done so with past administrations of both parties, and I will continue to do so moving froward,” he noted. Granholm’s immediate predecessors, Ernest Moniz (May 21, 2013-Jan. 20,

2017), Rick Perry (March 2, 2017-Dec. 1, 2019) and Dan Brouillet (Dec. 11, 2019Jan. 20, 2021), all toured Hanford in person. DOE officials confirm Granholm intends to visit the site. Newhouse did not just invite the new secretary to tour Hanford. He faulted a Feb. 26, 2021, letter written by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Washington State Director of Ecology Laura Watson, the Yakama Nation and other groups asking

Granholm to “immediately” rescind the department’s interpretation of high-level radioactive waste. “We believe this rule lays the groundwork for the department to abandon significant amounts of radioactive waste in Washington state precipitously close to the Columbia River, which is the lifeblood of the Pacific Northwest,” the letter says. Newhouse said the request is not supported in the community. He called it a “kneejerk letter” that could jeopardize “what should be the start of an important and productive working relationship with new DOE leadership.”

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Profile for Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business/Senior Times

Journal of Business - April 2021 Hanford Specialty Section  

Journal of Business - April 2021 Hanford Specialty Section  

Profile for tricomp

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