Guest Opinions

Dedicated to advancing Hanford cleanup | Guest opinion

Our Jacobs team at Hanford recently marked a significant accomplishment that reduces risk to the Columbia River and supports future Site cleanup.

After overcoming significant technical challenges, crews at 100-K and T Plant safely removed the last of the stored highly radioactive sludge from a water-filled basin just 400 yards from the river. It is now safely stored at T Plant, 11 miles from the river, awaiting future disposition.

This achievement paves the way for final decommissioning and demolition of the basin and eventual placement of the K West and K East reactors in interim safe storage in just the next few years, completing the last reactor complex on the river and advancing risk reduction along the river corridor of the Site.

This is just one example of Jacobs’ safe and efficient progress at Hanford during our tenure as CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company.

During our 11 years working on behalf of the Department of Energy, we left the groundwater cleaner and advanced protection of the Columbia River by remediating hundreds of waste sites and demolishing hundreds of buildings — significantly contributing to the vision of shrinking the area of active cleanup for the Hanford Site to the central plateau.

As our current contract nears completion, our commitment to advancing Hanford cleanup remains strong.

We’re preparing for future cleanup by com pleting the necessary and challenging steps to prepare the 324 Building for eventual demolition, and we’ve designed the necessary systems and processes to transfer highly radioactive cesium and strontium capsules from underwater storage at the Waste Encapsulation Storage Facility to safer dry storage.

Our team recognizes achievement of Hanford’s mission requires a strong partnership with our community, stakeholders and the incredible workforce that call the Columbia Basin Region home. We cannot overemphasize the value of our small-business partners. We worked closely with them throughout this journey and have enjoyed seeing them grow their businesses. Since 2008, we’ve invested $2.8 billion in more than 250 local small businesses.

We’re also committed to the Tri-Cities community, emphasizing the development of the next generation of Hanford workers.

Through our Highway to Hanford initiative, we promote opportunities to bring the next generation of workers to Hanford and enhance a healthy quality of life and diversity in our community.

Our employees have volunteered in schools and brought students to our projects, underscoring the importance of science, technology, engineering and math skills. We connected those skills to all careers at Hanford, and in doing so, have helped students see the opportunities to benefit their community and protect this region for the future.

Jacobs has, and will continue to be, a community partner in other ways. You will feel our impact if you hike Badger or Candy Mountain and see the monuments commemorating the Hanford workforce.

Our support for a wide range of community organizations has helped children learn to read, built homes and provided opportunities for people of differing abilities to reach their full potential. Whatever the activity, our fantastic employees volunteered more than 15,000 hours during our contract. They will tell you they received more from the experience than they ever imagined.

The past 11 years have been exciting, challenging and immensely rewarding for the two of us and Jacobs employees past and present. We remain dedicated to the future of the Hanford cleanup mission and look forward to building on what we’ve accomplished since 2008.

Karen Wiemelt is Senior Vice President and General Manager, Jacobs North American Nuclear. Ty Blackford is President and Chief Executive Officer, CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company.