Vit plant gets new director

Peggy McCullough, currently working on a Bechtel project in Australia, has been named the new project director for the Hanford vitrification plant.

Frank Russo, who has served as the Bechtel National project director for the plant since January 2010, announced earlier this month he would be leaving. He told employees Wednesday that he would be taking a new assignment with Bechtel in the United Kingdom on July 15.

McCullough is a principal vice president completing an assignment as project director of the Daunia Coking Coal Project in Queensland, Australia. She took the project to greater than 95 percent completion under budget and ahead of schedule, according to an announcement made by Craig Albert, president of Bechtel Systems and Infrastructure, which includes all of Bechtel's government work.

"I am confident that Peggy's experience and outstanding leadership on complex projects, her commitment to safety in both the design process and field work, her technical expertise, and her dedication to execution excellence will be invaluable assets as she leads (the vit plant project) forward," Albert said.

McCullough has three decades of engineering, procurement, construction, startup and commissioning, as well as management and operations experience, according to Albert.

She worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before joining Bechtel in 1988 and took on leadership roles in projects covering environmental cleanup, demilitarization, nonproliferation and global security.

From 2003-06 she was deputy general manager of Bechtel SAIC, the management and operations contractor for the Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain, Nev., nuclear repository project. She then worked for Bechtel Systems and Infrastructure before becoming project director of the Daunia Coking Coal Project.

"I leave you in good hands," Russo said in an employee message Wednesday. McCullough is an outstanding leader and highly effective manager, he said.

She will lead the vitrification plant project as it is "about to embark on a series of strategic decision," he said. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is expected to announce a plan by fall to address technical issues at the vitrification plant, and decisions are pending on when parts of the plant may start operating to turn up to 56 million gallons of radioactive waste into a stable glass form for disposal.

Russo will provide senior-level leadership as Bechtel ramps up its work and business development efforts in the United Kingdom, according to Albert.

As vitrification plant project director, Russo "advanced the project through challenging times and laid a strong foundation for continued progress," Albert said.