U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry toured the Vit Plant in early October to see the progress in Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste and to visit the control room and meet the team working inside that monitor and manage facilities at the plant.
Elected officials, business leaders and Hanford officials joined Vit Plant managers at the jobsite for a ribbon-cutting event celebrating the opening of the annex at the Low-Activity Waste Facility.
Vit Plant commissioning workers have moved into the annex housing the plant’s control room at the massive Low-Activity Waste Facility. The annex is key to managing and monitoring Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste operations.
Inside the 20,000-square-foot, two-story annex, workers will bring systems online aimed at turning radioactive tank waste safely into glass by 2023.
“The control room is the operations center of the Low-Activity Waste Facility,” said Brian Vance, DOE Hanford Site manager. “By moving into the annex, we have the capability to monitor and control completed systems inside the 14 support buildings called the Balance of Facilities. We are also using the control room to conduct startup and testing activities for the Low-Activity Waste Facility and Analytical Laboratory.”
Project Director joins Hanford team in reflecting on site's history
Project Director Valerie McCain (second from right) participates in a panel discussion about history and progress with other Hanford leaders at the National Cleanup Workshop
Valerie McCain, Bechtel's project director at the Vit Plant, discussed progress toward commissioning at the National Cleanup Workshop in Alexandria, VA. She joined a panel recalling the progress made at Hanford in the past 10 years and the latest achievements toward completing Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste. She emphasized the importance of collaboration and recognized the teamwork by the panelists in achieving DFLAW by the end of 2023.
The panel included DOE Hanford Site manager Brian Vance, Ty Blackford of CH2M HILL, John Eschenberg of Washington River Protection Solutions, and Bob Wilkinson of Mission Support Alliance.
Vit Plant night shift works to get it done after dark
Workers make construction progress at the Effluent Management Facility during the night shift.
There are just under 200 employees who work the night shift, a little less than a tenth the size of the day shift. For most, their shift starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 4 or 4:30 a.m. Superintendents start their days at 4 p.m. so they can do turnover with the day shift.
Vit Plant workers inspect the large boilers in the steam plant facility.
Workers recently began startup testing of the steam system needed to support the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program for treating underground tank waste at the Hanford Site.
Startup testing of the steam system began when crews ignited the first of three large diesel-fired boilers inside the steam plant, known as a boiler “first fire.” The steam plant will undergo functional testing into early fall as part of its startup phase.
The steam plant is capable of providing 45,000 pounds per hour of steam necessary for plant-wide process and facility heating.
In The Community
Volunteer efforts help feed area students
Vit Plant employees volunteered at the Second Harvest Tri-Cities Bite2Go Big Build in August. They joined volunteers from around the community to package food kits for local students in need. The employees helped assemble nearly 5,200 kits. The kits will provide students with nourishment over the weekends.
Bechtel leaders speak at engineering summit
Several Vit Plant employees were invited to speak at the IEEE Women in Engineering Leadership Summit at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. Project Director Valerie McCain and engineers Sarah Barker and Lucie Roy presented a panel session titled “The Perfect Blend: Integrating Work and Life.” Leah Mays, another Vit Plant engineer, was part of the Women in Technical Leadership panel. Many other Vit Plant employees were part of the more than 350 people who attend the event.
Habitat for Humanity benefits from Vit Plant volunteers
Employees from the Vit Plant volunteered on two occasions over the summer to help build a home in Pasco, Wash., with Habitat for Humanity. The event was sponsored by NextGen, a business resource group at the Vit Plant.
In The Details
By the numbers: Balance of Facilities buildings and systems
There are 14 buildings and 53 systems that are part of the Balance of Facilities needed to support the direct-feed low-activity waste configuration. All have been turned over from construction to startup. Many of those have also completed testing and been handed over to Plant Management for commissioning. As construction is completed, the systems and buildings are transferred to the startup team, which performs testing to verify the equipment functions as intended. After the startup phase, a commissioning phase ensures the utilities and process systems are integrated and ready to support future plant operations.
Did you know? Vit Plant awarded Star of Excellence
The Vit Plant recently received the Star of Excellence award from the Department of Energy’s Voluntary Protection Program (DOE-VPP) for our safety statistics and mentoring efforts. The Star of Excellence is the highest category of the DOE-VPP annual achievement awards and is given when a site achieves a total recordable rate at least 75 percent below the Bureau of Labor Statistics national average for its industry. A site also must meet annual goals and show strong involvement in mentoring and outreach.
Featured photo: Brendan Bechtel visits Vit Plant jobsite
Bechtel CEO Brendan Bechtel (center) recently visited the Hanford Vit Plant and toured the jobsite to discuss startup and handover progress. He was joined by Nuclear Security & Environmental Global Business Unit President Barbara Rusinko (second from right) and others in walking through the Effluent Management Facility, Analytical Laboratory and Low-Activity Waste Facility. He expressed appreciation for the workforce’s dedication to completing Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste by 2023.