Hanford official Joe Franco has been named to lead the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico for the Department of Energy.
Franco, the DOE assistant manager for the Hanford river corridor, will become manager for the DOE Carlsbad Field Office.
The office oversees the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, the nation's repository for transuranic waste generated during the research and production of nuclear weapons. It's where Hanford's transuranic waste, typically debris contaminated with plutonium, is sent for disposal in rooms mined out of an ancient salt formation 2,150 feet below ground.
"Joe, a native of Carlsbad, N.M., brings a wealth of experience to the job, including over 25 years of nuclear experience," Dave Huizenga, the acting assistant secretary for DOE environmental management, said in a statement.
Franco worked on the New Mexico project for what is now Washington TRU Solutions, the WIPP management and operating contractor, for17 years.
He came to Hanford in 2006 and has been responsible for cleanup and restoration of 220 square miles near the Columbia River.
Under his leadership reactors were put into temporary storage, complex waste sites were cleaned up, preparations were made to transport K Basin radioactive sludge for treatment and the Hanford footprint requiring cleanup was substantially reduced, Matt McCormick, manager of the DOE Richland Operations Office, said in a message to employees Thursday.
Franco said his experience at Hanford and WIPP will be helpful in his new assignment.
JD Dowell has been named acting assistant manager for the Hanford river corridor, pending approval for permanent appointment by DOE headquarters officials. Dowell also will continue to serve as the assistant manager for central Hanford.
"This will smooth the transition for our river corridor federal employees as they complete the very important river corridor work scope and move to completion of the critical central plateau work," McCormick said.