The president of CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. told workers Wednesday morning that he plans to retire Sept. 30.
John Fulton, a native of the Tri-City area, has worked at Hanford off and on since 1979 and has led CH2M Hill at Hanford since 2012. A new leader for the central Hanford and groundwater cleanup contractor should be named by next week, he said.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” he said in a message to employees. “As we enter year two of our contract’s second five years, our team is poised to successfully complete its mission.”
Under Fulton’s leadership, CH2M Hill is treating record amounts of contaminated groundwater at new treatment facilities added in recent years. In another 15 years most of Hanford groundwater should be restored to drinking-water standards, Fulton said.
Substantial progress has been made on the work to prepare Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant for demolition. Just 28 of 238 glove boxes remain and 136 of 196 pencil tanks have been removed. It’s high hazard and complicated work, Fulton said.
“All the hazards removal happens before we can start chomping on it with yellow iron,” the excavators used to demolish Hanford buildings, he said.
CH2M Hill also started a program to help management improve leadership skills and earned the Department of Energy’s highest safety recognition, the Voluntary Protection Program Star, in the years Fulton led the contractor.
He started work at Hanford as an engineer on the project to make the cesium and strontium capsules now stored at the Waste Encapsulation Storage Facility.
He was named director of decontamination and demolition when Washington Closure Hanford took over Hanford cleanup along the Columbia River in 2005. It remains the project he was involved with that had the largest impact, he said.
“It changed the landscape at Hanford,” he said. Washington Closure has cleaned out and demolished 284 buildings, some of them highly contaminated.
In 2007, he was named president of then tank farm contractor, CH2M Hill Hanford Group.
He also worked as senior vice president for the CH2M Hill Nuclear Business Group, providing direction and leadership for all DOE projects in the United States and other CH2M Hill projects in North America and Asia, before taking over as president of CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co.
He and his wife plan to remain in the Tri-Cities after he retires, he said. His roots in the area go back to when his parents homesteaded eight miles north of Benton City in 1949. He’s a graduate of Kiona-Benton City High School and has a chemical engineering degree from Washington State University.
His retirement is bittersweet, after spending much of his adult life at Hanford, he said. But he’s always balanced work and nonwork life and now he will have even more time to spend with six grandchildren, traveling, hunting elk and deer, fishing, golfing and indulging in cigars and fine wine, he said.
He also has agreed to continue to work 300 to 400 hours a year for CH2M Hill.
-- Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @HanfordNews