A Bechtel executive with experience leading complex nuclear projects has been assigned to the Hanford vitrification plant to take charge of nuclear safety and quality culture improvement efforts.
The $12.2 billion plant has been the focus of assessments after questions were raised about whether scientists, engineers and others working to design and build the plant feel free to raise issues that could affect safe operation.
Ward Sproat, principal vice president at Bechtel Power Corp., is on temporary assignment to Bechtel National, which is building the plant to treat high level radioactive waste for disposal.
"Ward is ideally suited for this role," said Frank Russo, Bechtel project director for the vit plant, in a message to employees Tuesday.
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Sproat previously was the Department of Energy director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, leading efforts to successfully complete submission of the Yucca Mountain, Nev., repository license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It's been characterized as the most complex licensing undertaking in the history of the NRC.
One of his tasks will be to better align engineering and nuclear safety. A DOE Office of Health, Safety and Security, or HSS, assessment released in January found tension and animosity among workers designing the plant on an aggressive schedule and those responsible for verifying the environmental and nuclear safety of the plant.
The HSS report found that vit plant workers were reluctant to raise safety or quality concerns.
It's a particularly important report because it is from the perspective of DOE and represents the knowledge and experience of the entire DOE weapons complex, Russo told employees. Other reports had reached different conclusions, but all have recommendations.
The importance of all the reports and the need to fully understand and address all of their recommendations require a comprehensive plan to be developed, Russo said in the memo. The plan will prioritize actions, track the status of action and enable DOE oversight and coordination, he said.
-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org; more Hanford news at hanfordnews.com