SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: Cleanup missions benefit from high-tech experts

BY JOHN STEWART, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, PARSONS March 24, 2009 

This will be another exciting year for Parsons' Technology Development and Fabrication Complex (TDFC). Since our establishment in the Tri-Cities in 1999, TDFC has been regularly challenged by the departments of Defense and Energy to develop, fabricate and test some of the world's most innovative and complex machines to support systems eliminating chemical weapons and handle waste from nuclear weapons production and cleanup.

In the last 10 years, TDFC has grown to become a "one-stop shop," capable of developing all phases of complex systems, from conceptual design, engineering, 3D modeling and fabrication, to testing and installation.

Looking forward to 2009 and 2010, TDFC will continue to support the DoD's decision to eliminate chemical weapons stockpiles efficiently and, more importantly, safely. Fourteen miles east of Pueblo, Colo., is the Pueblo Chemical Depot, an installation storing 2,600 tons of mustard agent in 4.2-inch mortars and 105 mm and 155 mm projectiles. TDFC's current task is the design, testing and fabrication of the key process components for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP), the facility that will destroy the projectiles and eliminate the mustard agent. Once completed, the entire process line will be assembled here at TDFC to verify integration, reliability and throughput rates. Delivery of equipment is scheduled for December 2010.

In addition to Pueblo, TDFC was selected as part of a team to design, build, systemize, pilot test, operate and close the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant (BGCAPP) in Kentucky. Residual quantities of chemical agents and rocket propellant remaining in dismantled munitions will be destroyed in a Metal Parts Treater (MPT) designed, built and tested at the TDFC. This first-of-a-kind equipment is a result of Parsons' patented technology refined by our experience at the Newport facility in Indiana, which successfully destroyed a stockpile of nerve agent.

TDFC has completed the design and is building and testing two process lines. When completed, the systems will encompass almost 20,000 square feet within the TDFC facilities before it is disassembled and transported to BGCAPP for installation and operations. This complex project is scheduled to be completed this fall.

Our technical staff includes engineers, designers and technicians from many different disciplines. Our pool of highly skilled craftsmen, in collaboration with our other team members, provides a unique combination of talents, ensuring project success and promoting efficiency, quality and unique solutions. With more than 215,000 square feet of indoor fabrication space and over 200 pieces of metalworking and machining equipment, TDFC is a unique and world-class facility.

The establishment and growth of Parsons' TDFC has brought a variety of jobs and careers to the Tri-City area. Growing from an initial staff of 14 in 1999, Parsons currently employs more than 250 engineers, designers, scientists and skilled union craftsmen at the TDFC. Looking into the future, TDFC anticipates expanding into new markets such as commercial nuclear.

This would continue to bring work to the Tri-Cities and establish a base of well-paid engineering and manufacturing jobs. TDFC work has infused the local economy in the Tri-City area with more than $120 million in revenue. On the Blue Grass project alone, we have conducted business with over 51 local suppliers, placing over $4 million in procurements.

Another challenge TDFC will face throughout 2009 and beyond is maintaining our strong record of fostering a powerful commitment to safety. Nothing could be more important than ensuring that at day's end, every employee goes home in the same condition they came to work. Safety is a core value in Parsons and at TDFC. Structured planning of work, training, subcontractor management, prompt reporting, investigation of incidents including near misses, property damage and employee recognition programs are just a few methods used to assure success.

Following a rigorous audit demonstrating TDFC's safety culture, commitment and practices had reached the highest level of excellence, the Washington Department of Labor and Industry (Washington State OSHA) awarded Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) STAR status to TDFC. Designation as a VPP STAR site is a testament to sustained excellence in all areas of safety and health management. Less than 20 fabrication facilities in the entire U.S. have received VPP status. TDFC is one of only 1,337 companies in the U.S. and one of only 23 in the state to achieve VPP STAR Status.

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