Vit Plant achieves important step toward operations
Building 87 switchgear components went through months of testing and verification before being energized.
The Vit Plant recently attained a significant achievement when it safely brought in permanent power to Building 87, the primary electrical switchgear building at the 65-acre construction site.
The installation of a permanent energy supply occurred on Sept. 17 at approximately 8:30 a.m. when the initial breaker was closed from a substation on the Hanford Site connecting site power to the Vit Plant electrical distribution system. By late morning, three remaining breakers were closed, and startup test engineers began system testing of Building 87’s electrical components.
“I’m very pleased to see the progress that continues at the (Vit Plant),” said Bill Hamel, Assistant Manager in charge of the Vit Plant at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of River Protection. “This accomplishment is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the Bechtel and DOE teams.”
The plant’s four major nuclear facilities and 21 infrastructure systems and facilities have been operating on temporary power, which is typical for buildings under construction. As the remaining construction for the infrastructure facilities is completed, the facilities will be properly tested and will then be provided additional permanent utilities such as water, compressed air, steam and fire protection.
The successful completion of all infrastructure facilities will enable the plant to operate the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility and the Analytical Laboratory, as part of the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste process, or DFLAW. The Analytical Laboratory is currently 95 percent complete, and construction of the LAW Facility is expected to be complete in mid-2018. Through DFLAW, DOE expects to begin waste treatment as soon as 2022.
“Energization of Building 87 represents the transition from temporary construction-phase utilities to permanent utilities that will operate the Vit Plant,” said Bechtel Project Director Peggy McCullough. “We are on track and moving swiftly to completing construction of the Low Activity Waste Facility, utility systems, and the portion of the Analytical Laboratory that will support direct feed of low-activity waste.”
“The pace of construction, startup and commissioning will increase considerably over the next few years,” McCullough said. “Our goal ultimately is to deliver a plant that can treat the waste in a manner that protects the public and the river.”
Construction site again earns VPP Star of Excellence recognition
Vit Plant managers pose with the VPP Star of Excellence plaque and the DOE-VPP representative.
For the second consecutive year, the Hanford Vit Plant construction site was recognized by the Department of Energy’s Voluntary Protection Program (DOE-VPP) with the Star of Excellence award for its safety statistics and mentoring efforts in 2015. The award highlights a commitment to safety by all employees.
The Star of Excellence is the highest category of the DOE-VPP annual achievement awards, and earning the award in consecutive years highlights the fact the Vit Plant recorded a lower total recordable case rate (TRC) for the fourth-consecutive year. TRC rates can be used to show a relative level of injuries and illnesses among different industries.
In 2015, the site reported its best safety performance ever with a TRC of 0.57. For comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics national average for other construction sites was 3.0 in 2014.
Experience the Vit Plant at virtual open house
Learn about the Hanford Vit Plant and the people who work there at the Vit Plant Virtual Open House, a web-based multimedia experience that features displays, videos, and photos about the project.
Each week, a new section of the virtual open house is opened. Six sections have been opened thus far that include information about early Hanford, the Vit Plant facilities, our employees and more. Later releases will highlight areas such as the construction site, more Vit Plant facilities and safety and quality.
Follow the Hanford Vit Plant on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to be the first to know when new sections are opened. Use #meetthevit to ask questions or share comments/feedback about the virtual open house.
Felice (Feh-lee-chay) has more than 20 years of engineering, construction, and project management experience. He has successfully managed complex transportation jobs around the world, including roadways, high-speed railways, airports, and tunnels. He ensured they were completed safely, with quality, and on time, while minimizing impacts to the traveling public.
“It was my signature on the paperwork that said we were ready to run trains at 125 miles per hour with thousands of commuters per day, and they were safe to operate,” Felice says. “It was a heck of a responsibility, and I took it seriously.”
Felice now applies that experience, as well as his technical background in fluid dynamics and program engineering management, to leading the Vit Plant’s most challenging nuclear facility—the Pretreatment Facility. Work on the facility has been paused as technical teams evaluate and test engineering solutions that underpin facility design.
"I have a clear vision of success. . . pivoting the facility back to full-production engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC)."
There is no question that Felice is passionate about his vision and excited about seeing EPC work resume on the Pretreatment Facility. “I love the challenge of this job and this facility. I work with a great team, and we are putting all of our energy into this pivot so we can finish the facility and, ultimately, the Vit Plant.”
Who says you can’t have fun at work? Vit Plant managers raced tricycles in the parking lot at lunch as part of a fundraiser for the Vit Plant’s 2016 United Way campaign. Employees raised more than $1,500 during the fundraiser, which supported the United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties. The Vit Plant’s annual campaign included multiple employee-sponsored fundraisers to support the local community. Vit Plant employees donated more than $450,000 to the United Way in 2015.
Vit Plant Red Cross blood drives saving hundreds of lives
In September, the Vit Plant held a blood drive for the American Red Cross. Employees donated 41 pints of blood, which can be used to save up to 123 lives.
In 2016, the Vit Plant has held four blood drives and donated 188 pints of blood. The final drive of the calendar year will be held in December.
In The Details
By the numbers
The Vit Plant requires 41,000 tons of structural steel, which is the equivalent of more than four Eiffel Towers.
Before it operates, the Vit Plant must meet, and prove it has met, more than 11,000 technical requirements from various sources, such as its contract; federal, state, and local laws; and DOE orders. These requirements ensure the plant operates safely by protecting workers, the public, and the environment.
See inside Switchgear Building 87 as the Vit Plant made a significant
achievement when employees successfully energized this primary electrical switchgear building with permanent electrical power. This marks a key
transition from temporary to permanent utilities to service facilities for the
Direct Feed LAW configuration.