New Hanford managers named. Goal is to turn waste to glass in 2022

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Hanford Vit Plant is celebrating a milestone completed ahead of schedules at the waste treatment plant.
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Hanford Vit Plant is celebrating a milestone completed ahead of schedules at the waste treatment plant.

A new leader has been named for the subcontractor leading construction work at the Hanford nuclear reservation’s vitrification plant.

Rick Holmes has been named general manager of Waste Treatment Completion Co., one of several personnel changes announced at the Hanford vitrification plant and tank farms Thursday.

Most of the changes were made as the focus increases on starting to treat low activity radioactive tank waste at the vitrification plant by 2022.

Not only does construction and start-up need to be completed at the vitrification plant, but preparations must be made to deliver the waste from Hanford’s underground storage tanks and to pretreat the waste to separate out low activity radioactive waste.

The changes include some familiar names to Hanford workers, like Scott Sax, John Eschenberg and Gary Snow.

Rick Holmes

The Waste Treatment Completion Co. was created in early 2017 by Bechtel National, the Department of Energy prime contractor for the vitrification plant, and Bechtel’s subcontractor on the project, AECOM.

The new company, which was assigned 1,370 of the workers on the project, serves as a subcontractor for construction, start-up and commissioning of the plant, which is expected to cost more than $17 billion.

Mike Costas, the acting general manager for the new subcontractor, told employees Thursday that Holmes had been named general manager starting Monday.

Rick Holmes
Rick Holmes File/Ken Young Courtesy Bechtel

Costas has served in an acting capacity for six months after the original general manager, Scott Oxenford, took extended medical leave.

Holmes guided the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant through pilot testing and initial operations. The plant was built to destroy a stockpile of chemical weapons in southeastern Colorado.

He has worked for Bechtel for 20 years doing chemical demilitarization and national security work, after serving in the U.S. Army for a decade, according to a message sent to Bechtel employees. He was elected a Bechtel principal vice president in 2014.

His experience at DOE nuclear projects includes six years as project manager of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The project completed construction of the first plutonium-handling and analysis laboratory to open at the national lab since the 1970s.

Costas said that after four years working on the vitrification plant project, he is moving on to a new assignment, but did not elaborate in a message to employees.

Scott Sax

Scott Sax
Scott Sax

Sax, the president of Washington Closure Hanford as it completed most cleanup of Hanford along the Columbia River, will serve as the new deputy general manager at Waste Treatment Completion Co. starting Monday.

His previous work experience includes director of spent fuel management in the United Kingdom. At Hanford, he has experience in the tank farms, the Plutonium Finishing Plant and K Basins.

Sax will replace Scott Booth, who was appointed to the new role of mission readiness manager for the company.

John Eschenberg

Eschenberg will return to Hanford to work for tank farm contractor Washington River Protection Solutions.

He will serve as deputy project manager at the tank farms for delivery of tank waste for the treatment project starting Jan. 15.

He currently is an AECOM vice president in the Nuclear and Environmental Business Unit, leading efforts to put a $2 billion supplemental waste processing facility into operation at DOE’s Savannah River, S.C., site.

He is best known at Hanford for his work from 2003 until summer 2009 at the vitrification plant, ending his stint there as assistant manager of the DOE Hanford Office of River Protection.

Gary Snow

Snow has been named acting project manager responsible for waste-feed delivery engineering, procurement and construction for Washington River Protection Solutions.

He managed the decontamination and demolition of more than 300 buildings for Washington Closure Hanford.

Most recently, he led the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo program at Sellafield, England, where he developed and implemented a revised decommissioning strategy that cut costs by $360 million and allowed the start of waste retrieval two years early, according to a memo sent Thursday to tank farm workers.

Washington River Protection Solutions also announced Thursday that Charles Simpson had been named manager of project support services.

Additional organizational changes will be announced over the next month, said Mark Lindholm, president of Washington River Protection Solutions, in a message to employees.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533, @HanfordNews