Treatment Systems Protect Nation's Secon d-Largest Aquifer at Idaho Site; Vendor Partnerships Bring Efficiencies to SRS N uclear Parts Procurements; and Much More!
Treatment Systems Protect Nation's Second-Largest Aquifer at Idaho Site; Vendor Partnerships Bring Efficiencies to SRS Nuclear Parts Procurements; and Much More!Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
EM Update | Vol. 9, Issue 26 | Dec. 5, 2017
- SRS Liquid Waste Contractor Wins 96 Percent of Available Award Fee
- EM’s Los Alamos Field Office Awards Contractor 84 Percent of Available Fee
- Treatment Systems Protect Nation’s Second-Largest Aquifer at Idaho Site
- Jennings Leads Strong Team Toward Successful Burial Ground Cleanup
- Vendor Partnerships Bring Efficiencies to SRS Nuclear Parts Procurements
- West Valley Cleanup Contractor Receives 66 Percent of Available Award Fee
- Legacy of SRNL’s Most Influential Researcher Continues
- ‘Zinc on the Half Shell’: SRS Puts Old Oysters to New Use
- WVDP Food Drive Exceeds Goal, Collects Food for Nine Local Pantries
- New Equipment Now at Hanford to Improve Snow Removal
Savannah River Remediation employees replaced Melter 2 with Melter 3 and placed Melter 2 in storage.
AIKEN, S.C. – The Savannah River Site (SRS) liquid waste contractor recently earned an “excellent” rating and $14,465,000 — or 96 percent — of the available award fee for the period Oct. 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, according to a recently released scorecard.
Savannah River Remediation (SRR) accomplishments during this period included:
- Management of the unanticipated melter failure;
- Use of corporate reachback resources and internal reviews to focus on early and permanent resolution of issues;
- Full execution of a major contract modification to extend the contract by 6 months due to delays in DOE award of liquid waste follow-on contract; and
- Accelerated execution of the Salt Waste Processing Facility tie-in outage, which was achieved as a result of the melter failure.
This performance period would have marked the end of SRR’s contract but the contact was extended to Dec. 31, 2017 to accommodate DOE’s competitive procurement process for a new SRS liquid waste services contract. This allowed the Department’s selection, award and transition to the new contract to occur without interruptions of ongoing services.
DOE-Savannah River Associate Deputy Manager Thomas Johnson said overall cost, schedule and technical performance requirements of the contract were achieved during the evaluation period.
“In addition to other milestones SRR completed this year, the Saltstone Disposal Unit 6 (SDU 6) was a huge success,” said Johnson.
Workers completed that facility 16 months ahead of schedule and more than $25 million under budget.
Johnson said the contractor has taken positive steps to improve overall conduct of operations, which was noted as requiring attention in the last award period.
SRR President and Project Manager Tom Foster said the award reflects the progress made in the liquid waste program and the hard work of employees.
“We were faced with a number of unusual challenges this year — liquid waste system outage, new melter being installed, repairing the 3H evaporator, etc. — and we were able to safely overcome those challenges with outstanding performance,” said Foster.
DOE-Savannah River noted areas needing improvements:
- an increase in the number of technical safety requirements violations; and
- adequately identifying and analyzing potential issues with the implementation of a glycolic acid flowsheet.
View the scorecard here.
Technicians load the last remediated nitrate salt drum for transportation to the treatment facility.
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The cleanup contractor for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) earned approximately 84 percent of the available fee for fiscal year (FY) 2017, according to a recently released award fee scorecard from the EM Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA).
Los Alamos National Security (LANS) received $8,458,736 of an available $10,083,579 fee. In its scorecard, EM-LA noted the contractor’s strong performance in several areas, including:
- Successfully completing an operational test of the Chromium Project’s extraction-injection loop for the Interim Measure;
- Completing soil cleanup at sites in Upper Los Alamos Canyon;
- Completing all monitoring activities outlined in the Interim Facility-Wide Groundwater Monitoring Plan; and
- Regulatory compliance and management.
Each year EM releases information relating to contractor fee payments — earned by completing the work called for in the contracts — to further transparency in its cleanup program. .
The LANS scorecard summarizes objective award fee and performance-based incentives earned by the contractor in its execution of the Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Bridge Contract. Its FY 2017 milestones include processing 60 drums of remediated nitrate salts, completing the construction of the infrastructure necessary to implement the Interim Measure, and cleaning up contaminated soil from the final two known legacy sites along Los Alamos Canyon.
The EM-LA mission is to safely and efficiently complete the cleanup of legacy contamination and waste resulting from nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear research at the LANL.
View the scorecard here.
-Contributor: Steven Horak
Sodium lactate, a food additive, is used to stimulate microorganisms in the aquifer.
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – A pump-and-treat system is set to surpass treatment of 700 million gallons of water within the next few months in one of two cleanup projects removing contaminants from the nation’s second-largest aquifer beneath EM’s Idaho Site.
The pump-and-treat system near the former Test Area North facility began operating 15 years ago. It removes the industrial solvent trichloroethylene, which was injected into the Snake River Plain Aquifer — along with other liquid wastes — from 1955 to 1972.
A carbon source is also injected into the aquifer near the former injection well to stimulate naturally occurring microorganisms in the aquifer to degrade solvents in a process called bioremediation.
The pump-and-treat system at Test Area North has treated nearly 700 million gallons of water.
These groundwater treatment projects will reduce the aquifer’s trichloroethylene concentrations to below drinking water standards in compliance with a record of decision by DOE, the state of Idaho, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Test Area North was established in the early 1950s to build and test nuclear-powered jet aircraft engines for an aircraft nuclear propulsion program that ended in 1961. The facility was later used to study the effects of the loss of coolant from commercial reactors.
Vapor vacuum extraction units like this one have removed a quarter million pounds of solvent vapors from the ground beneath the Radioactive Waste Management Complex.
A vapor vacuum extraction technology has captured and destroyed a quarter million pounds of solvent vapors from the ground since it began operating more than 20 years ago. It prevents the vapors from reaching the aquifer beneath the site’s Radioactive Waste Management Complex.
This technology draws organic vapors from the ground with high-pressure pumps, destroying them at the surface through catalytic oxidation units, in the same way an automobile destroys unburned fuel vapors.
Thousands of barrels of solidified solvents (also containing radioactive material), remnants of weapons production at the former Rocky Flats Plant, were buried at the complex from 1954 until 1970. As the barrels deteriorated, solvents escaped the waste zone in the form of vapors, driven toward the aquifer by precipitation.
Fluor Idaho is removing the deteriorating barrels of radioactive and hazardous waste from the landfill. The Idaho Cleanup Project contractor has about 1 more acre of material to exhume under its contract.
-Contributor: Erik Simpson
Mike Jennings is the new project director for the 324 Building Disposition Project. He led the team that recently finished cleaning up the 618-10 Burial Ground.
As workers backfilled and demobilized equipment at that site, Jennings explained his team’s journey to the successful completion and what motivates him after more than 30 years in the industry.
“It’s about people, and the people make the team,” Jennings said recently. “It’s about knowing who’s on the team, what motivates them, building rapport and trust by leading by example and doing what you said you were going to do.”
Jennings works for EM Richland Operations Office contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC). He helped transition the 618-10 work scope to CHPRC from contractor Washington Closure Hanford (WCH) when that contract ended in 2016.
Building on WCH’s success, the team finished removing contaminated drums, pipes, debris, and contaminated soil from the 618-10 Burial Ground and four nearby waste sites.
“This is one of the most successful projects I’ve been involved with during my career,” Jennings said. “We completed the work safely, on schedule, under budget, and met all of our commitments.”
Former 618-10 Project Director Mike Jennings addresses the team that cleaned up highly radioactive waste from Hanford laboratories and fuel development facilities in the 1950s and 1960s.
Jennings sought two experienced mentors when he entered this field. He recalled their advice: you can strive to be a great engineer, or you can build a more rounded career foundation and evolve into more of a leader. Jennings chose to build his career on a foundation of knowledge about various aspects of the business.
“I don’t necessarily know all of the details required to remediate a hazardous radioactive waste site myself,” he explained. “But I know enough about the process to be able to understand it, establish dialogue with the various teams that make it happen, and support the team by setting clear priorities and expectations, while eliminating the roadblocks they might encounter and keeping the business side of the project on track to enable the team to make the success happen.”
Jennings now manages CHPRC’s effort to remove highly radioactive soil beneath the 324 Building at Hanford. He looks forward to building new relationships, strengthening teams, and helping every team member pull in the same direction.
This transition is like many others for Jennings during his career, and his advice is simple: “You have to embrace the change while taking care of your team and providing a clear direction to enable the team to be successful.”
-Contributor: Jennifer Copeland
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions employee Tony Curtis uses an optical microscope, a principal tool in structural evaluation, to survey and look for defects in metal.
AIKEN, S.C. – The Savannah River Site (SRS) has secured a reliable supply of nuclear-grade parts for its facilities through novel approaches with vendors and streamlined processes being modeled at other DOE sites.
“Safety and quality are the foundation of everything we do at the Savannah River Site, allowing us to drive down costs and deliver on aggressive performance goals,” said Stuart MacVean, president of SRS management and operations contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.
Efficiently securing and qualifying nuclear-grade parts has helped the site improve infrastructure and dramatically reduce the maintenance backlog over the last year, MacVean said.
“We’ve put a tremendous amount of focus and effort into improving how we certify the pedigree of the parts and components we need to support the vital missions at SRS,” MacVean said. “As a result, we’ve been able more rapidly upgrade and maintain our site infrastructure.”
Plenty of suppliers were available to provide qualified parts during the peak of U.S. commercial nuclear construction in the 1970s and 1980s. But the need for new nuclear construction has waned over the years, and the number of nuclear-qualified suppliers has dwindled. This has forced the few new nuclear construction projects and facilities in need of replacement parts — including those managed by SRNS — to qualify many of the parts they need individually.
This qualification process, known as commercial grade dedication (CGD), identifies the critical characteristics of each item — such as parts in a backup generator or electric switches — and verifies the acceptability through inspections, tests, or analyses.
SRNS has worked to streamline the procurement of engineered materials and the qualification of nuclear safety-related components by forming partnerships with vendors and centralizing its efforts. A 14-member staff now manages the CGD process.
“The results have been significant,” said Earvin Henderson, head of the SRNS Materials Acquisition Engineering group. “We went from completing 21 CGDs in the last year to 163 this year. We’ve worked through the backlog that had built up and have really put in place an efficient process that can be a model for other sites.”
In its partnership with vendor Caterpillar, which supplies replacement parts for safety-related engines, SRNS has access to a quality program and production facilities, allowing the contractor to survey and take credit for Caterpillar’s quality processes.
“That was huge for us because it nearly eliminates the testing and inspections we need to do here at SRNS to complete the dedication processes,” Henderson said. “It’s not something Caterpillar has done anywhere else and while it took a lot of time and effort to work through the process, it’s really making an impact.”
SRNS worked with two nuclear material suppliers to procure piping, fittings, steel, and related shapes. SRNS procured these items without completing CGD packages after auditing the companies and accepting their nuclear quality programs.
“Proactively working with vendors at a more strategic level is a much better way to do business than focusing on qualifying each part or component one by one,” Henderson said. “That is where we are going to put our focus going forward — making sure we are as efficient and effective as possible.”
-Contributor: Marty Schneider
CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley employees at work at the West Valley Demonstration Project.
WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – EM’s cleanup contactor at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) earned $300,000 of a possible $455,971 award fee for the March to August 2017 performance period, according to a recently released scorecard.
EM noted that CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley (CHBWV) met the majority of performance goals and objectives for the period. The contractor received a “very good” rating for safety, health, quality, and business management; “good” for project management; and “satisfactory” for environmental and regulatory strategy.
Under EM’s CHBWV contract, 80 percent of the award fee is tied to objective cost and schedule incentives that are “at risk” until the contract’s end. While CHBWV has had significant success during this rating period, schedule incentive fee for this work is provisional and cost incentives are not earned until the entire performance work statement is completed.
“CHBWV has had a very successful year,” EM Federal Project Director Bryan Bower said. “During this last rating period, CHBWV was able to safely complete deactivation of the Vitrification Facility and conduct readiness activities for demolition. This allowed demolition to begin five months ahead of schedule. They are also ahead of schedule for safely completing the legacy waste milestone. The workforce is also well on its way to safely completing the deactivation of the Main Plant Process Building ahead of schedule. But because of the way this contract is structured, these successes are only recognized when all the work is completed.”
Each year EM releases information relating to contractor fee payments — earned by completing the work called for in the contracts — to further transparency in its cleanup program.
According to EM’s performance evaluation for CHBWV:
The contractor responded appropriately to safety related incidents and paid strong attention to detail during receipt inspection of waste boxes. The contractor also conducted employee safety interviews and obtained corporate support to review safety related incidents.
CHBWV submitted quality and timely contract deliverables and continued its commitment to cybersecurity. The contractor achieved 211 percent of its annual strategic sourcing goal and did a “good job” supporting all information requests.
The contractor streamlined data management and reporting, and provided EM more accurate and timely variance analysis information to improve project management. EM noted CHBWV’s “poor planning” to prepare for the site’s Vitrification Facility demolition readiness assessment.
The contractor’s routine regulatory reports were well organized and submitted on time. However, CHBWV demonstrated reluctance to proactively partner with EM to develop solutions to issues.
Once the site of the first and only commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the U.S., WVDP is now an environmental cleanup and waste management project located about 35 miles south of Buffalo. The cleanup is conducted by EM in cooperation with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
View CHBWV’s scorecard here.
-Contributor: David Sheeley
Savannah River National Laboratory Director Dr. Terry A. Michalske (left) awards Tracy S. Rudisill the 2017 the Donald Orth Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor given by the laboratory for technical excellence and leadership.
AIKEN, S.C. – Each year, EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) honors one of its most influential researchers, Dr. Donald A. Orth, by presenting the Donald Orth Lifetime Achievement Award to an employee for technical excellence and leadership.
SRNL presented this year’s Orth award to Tracy S. Rudisill, a principal investigator in the laboratory’s Separations and Actinide Science Group, leading a team developing chemical engineering flowsheets for the dissolution of used nuclear fuels and other nuclear materials.
“Tracy is a world-renowned expert in actinide materials who time and again has demonstrated his ability to provide practical solutions to our nation's most difficult and pressing problems,” said Dr. Terry A. Michalske, SRNL director. “He is personally involved in many national and international programs but always makes it a priority to mentor and help develop the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
Rudisill has worked for SRNL for more than 30 years, conducting research and development for uranium, neptunium, plutonium, americium, and curium processing. His accomplishments include developing chemical engineering flowsheets for plutonium metal finishing, scrap recovery, dissolution of plutonium materials and the recovery of enriched uranium from research reactor fuels. He also developed processes to save valuable americium and curium isotopes, which are used in the manufacturing of californium-252, a neutron emitter for radiation therapy and other applications, from disposal as waste.
To commemorate Dr. Donald Orth’s contributions to the Savannah River Site, a tree and bench have been placed on the grounds of the Savannah River Research Campus, near Aiken, S.C. The memorial was given by Orth’s daughters Claudia (left) and Donna (middle), and his wife Jean (right).
“Dr. Orth was an exceptional researcher,” said Rudisill. “When I was a new employee, like many others, I went to Don to talk about a new project I was starting. Now at this point in my career, I find myself in much the same position, advising and mentoring many of our new employees. His impact on the laboratory and Savannah River Site (SRS) is continuous.”
The Orth Family and Dr. Michalske celebrated Dr. Orth’s contributions to SRS by dedicating a living memorial in his honor. The memorial, located on the grounds of the Savannah River Research Campus, includes a tree and a bench.
Dr. Orth began work at SRS in 1951 with the Du Pont Atomic Energy Division. His primary contributions to SRS included being a technical liaison for many DOE programs moving from concepts through operating facilities. His work included the development, design, and operation of processes and facilities for nuclear materials production, specifically, plutonium finishing operations. Dr. Orth’s work in this area led to a technical liaison and support assignment for later SRS programs in plutonium fuels, californium, and other transplutonium elements, uranium-233 and thorium, offsite fuels processing, waste management, plutonium isotope separations, naval fuels and tritium operations. He was also appointed to the Du Pont corporate technical position of Departmental Fellow and subsequently as Consulting Scientist by Westinghouse Savannah River Corporation, where he worked to improve company research efforts.
Dr. Orth received a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in chemistry (nuclear) from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduation, he worked at Argonne and Oak Ridge national labs before joining SRNL. He retired in 1992 after a distinguished 41-year career at SRS.
-Contributor: Jamacia Jimerson
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions employees Dakota Williams (left) and Mandrell Crawford create a mound of oyster shells to absorb unwanted metals in rainwater runoff bound for a nearby stream.
AIKEN, S.C. – What’s a cost effective way to control the levels of zinc in stormwater? The answer might be found on a half shell.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the management and operations contractor for the Savannah River Site and its EM program, is among a small number of U.S. companies and utilities experimenting with oyster shells. They’ve found the shells naturally absorb zinc and copper from water, often reducing concentrations to acceptable levels.
SRNS is testing the shells to decrease the amount of zinc leaving a portion of the site during heavy rain so it’s within South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) standards.
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