Hanford

Veolia purchase of Kurion could create more Tri-Cities jobs

A Kurion mobile processing system built in Richland to remove strontium from contaminated water arrived at Narita International Airport in Japan in late 2014.
A Kurion mobile processing system built in Richland to remove strontium from contaminated water arrived at Narita International Airport in Japan in late 2014. Kurion

The French company Veolia has purchased Kurion, the startup company that developed modules in Richland used for cleanup of radioactively contaminated water after the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear disaster.

“It is nothing but good news for Kurion as a whole and its workforce in the Tri-Cities,” said Matt McCormick, Kurion’s Richland operations director.

He expects the market share of Kurion’s current technology to grow, creating more jobs in the Tri-Cities, under Veolia’s ownership.

Kurion is based in Irvine, Calif., but about 100 employees, or half of its workforce, are in the Tri-Cities, where most of its engineers, technology experts and project managers work. It opened a facility in Richland in 2012 and purchased Vista Engineering Technologies of Richland in 2014.

Veolia, which has about 179,000 employees and a presence in 45 countries, began expanding into the business lines of radioactive waste treatment and dismantling nuclear installations three years ago.

We will be in a stronger position to compete for Hanford work with this partnership with Veolia and its corporate support and known how.

Matt McCormick, Kurion Richland operations director

“Bringing Kurion and its employees into Veolia is going to enable us to develop a world-class integrated offer in nuclear facility cleanup and treatment of low-level radioactive waste around the world,” said Veolia Chairman Antoine Frérot.

The international environmental services company has been in serious talks to acquire Kurion since summer, said William Gallo, Kurion’s chief executive. Veolia paid $350 million for Kurion and the technical leadership team is expected to remain in place.

“We will be in a stronger position to compete for Hanford work with this partnership with Veolia and its corporate support and know how,” McCormick said.

Last year Kurion teamed up with Areva to move more of its technology into use on Department of Energy environmental cleanup projects, starting with Hanford. The partnership is expected to continue.

Veolia says the purchase of Kurion rounds out its portfolio of services to the nuclear industry.

Kurion has proprietary technologies for vitrifying, or glassifying, radioactive waste in small quantities. It also has removed radioactive cesium and strontium from contaminated water at Fukushima using chemical compounds it developed for use in ion exchange systems.

Kurion previously has said those systems could have applications at Hanford as DOE develops capabilities to treat low-activity radioactive waste at the massive Hanford vitrification plant under construction. New capabilities to allow some treatment to start as soon as 2022 are needed as technical issues delay handling and treatment of high-level radioactive waste at the plant.

Kurion also has robotics technology since it acquired Vista Engineering Technologies. The custom-made robotics system it deployed to Japan for inspecting reactor containment damage and repairing containment leaks could have applications for inspecting Hanford’s underground waste tanks.

Veolia has extensive environmental expertise and technology that could add value to Hanford offerings, such as technology to measure the radioactivity in waste or a structure using either its laboratories or mobile units. It also is one of the world’s largest water treatment technology companies.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533, @HanfordNews

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