Progress Edition

CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company: Hanford Cleanup: Achieving Key Risk Reduction in 2018

Workers at the 324 Building Disposition Project prepare to install a remotely operated excavator that crews will use to access highly radioactive soil beneath the building.
Workers at the 324 Building Disposition Project prepare to install a remotely operated excavator that crews will use to access highly radioactive soil beneath the building.

I could not be more proud of the CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) workforce that achieved so many key risk-reduction activities last year on the Hanford Site on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

We started removing, shipping and storing the highly radioactive sludge from the 100 K West Reactor fuel storage basin, near the Columbia River, to safer interim storage at T Plant at the center of the site, and we remain on schedule to complete this important task by the end of the year. Removing the sludge is the critical step toward completing the K Area deactivation and cleanup. The safe progress made so far is the result of over two decades of hard work by many people, and that hard work is now making the vision of cleaning up the reactor area a reality.

Downstream, near the City of Richland, we began installing the remotely operated equipment to begin cutting through the concrete floor beneath a portion of the 324 Building to remove the highly radioactive soil beneath. Our use of a mock-up facility to develop, test and train on that equipment has already resulted in key risk-reduction improvements and efficiencies that will benefit the community and the region.

In addition, our teams accomplished significant improvements in groundwater treatment and effectiveness in 2018, as CHPRC treated a record 2.3 billion gallons of groundwater. This means we shrank the areas of contaminated groundwater, or plumes, even more.

In October 2018, we began stabilizing the second waste storage tunnel at the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant (PUREX). As we did following the partial collapse of PUREX Tunnel 1, we safely placed engineered grout in Tunnel 2 after engineering evaluations determined that tunnel was also at risk of collapse. This grouting work, performed with the competent assistance of our subcontractors, not only mitigates an immediate risk to workers, the public and the environment, but also makes future remediation safer. We expect to complete stabilization efforts early this spring by placing more than 43,000 cubic yards of engineered grout into the tunnel without injury or release of any hazardous materials.

Our strong commitment to safety allows us to advance Hanford cleanup. In 2018 CHPRC received DOE’s Voluntary Protection Program Legacy of Stars award, reflecting the outstanding cooperative efforts among employees, management and DOE to continue to improve safety and health programs. This award recognizes only the highest levels of safety performance and culture, which I am proud to say is our workforce. This achievement was truly theirs, and I am very proud of them and see nothing but continued improvement in their pride and ownership.

As CHPRC remains committed to the future of the Hanford workforce, we will continue to build on our 2018 success. We call this effort the Highway to Hanford, where we promote opportunities in the local community for bringing the next generation of workers to Hanford and enhancing a healthy quality of life and diversity in our community. We support diverse issues important to our community; our employees spend time in classrooms, and we encourage students through practical interaction and demonstration as they pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Through these efforts and through proud partnership with educators, labor leaders and the STEM Foundation, we are working to ensure the next generation has the education and skills necessary to complete cleanup work along the Columbia River and Hanford’s Central Plateau. The children we encourage today will continue to contribute to this region well into the future.

Those new skills, and the historical knowledge employees already have, will allow future Hanford workers will continue building on CHPRC’s success. Since 2008, CHPRC has safely completed significant risk reduction across the Hanford Site for the DOE. I invite you to join me in looking back on some of our key accomplishments in this electronic book (https://chprc.hanford.gov/10-yr-book/).

We have a tremendously talented and dedicated team, and I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in 2019 and in the future.

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