Vit Plant receives positive marks for 2019 performance
Significant progress has been made on the Effluent Management Facility (EMF), which is pictured here in October 2019. The EMF is needed to handle the liquid secondary waste, called effluent, generated by the Low-Activity Waste Facility melters and offgas treatment system.
In June, the Office of River Protection (ORP) released the Vit Plant's annual performance scorecard for calendar year 2019, and the ratings were a positive reflection of the project's drive toward completion while ensuring quality and efficiencies. The scorecard is the Department of Energy's annual subjective evaluation of the Vit Plant's performance outside of contractual progress milestones. ORP rated the Vit Plant as Very Good or Good in five of the six areas evaluated for an overall score of 63.6 percent, or Good.
Bechtel received marks of Very Good in the areas of Environment, Safety, Health, and Quality Assurance; One System for Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste Integration; and High-Level Waste and Pretreatment. It was rated Good for Startup and Commissioning, as well as Engineering, Procurement, and Construction. The project also made significant progress in Project Performance last year, which was reflected in a higher percent rating.
ORP identified specific areas of improvement, three of which focus on actions intended to ensure the project adequately supports commissioning activities for melter heat up in 2021. As a learning organization, the Vit Plant is committed to listening and responding to its customer's improvement feedback.
Julian Leam, senior mechanical handling test engineer, observes as the finish line transfer hoist is remotely operated from the LAW control room..
In March, Startup operators working in the Vit Plant's Low-Activity Waste Facility (LAW) remotely connected to a crane and operated it from the control room for the first time since opening the facility’s annex last summer. In the annex, Commissioning technicians have been partnering with Startup employees to test equipment in the facility and bring systems online.
During operations, the finish line transfer hoist will operate behind a shield door. Employees will operate the 10-ton crane remotely from the LAW control room while viewing through a series of cameras and monitors.
After filling with vitrified waste at the melters and cooling, containers move through the facility to the export bay on a series of tracks called the finishing line. The finish line transfer hoist transfers filled containers between the parallel north and south finishing lines. On the finishing line, the container is sampled, lidded, swabbed to confirm it is clean of contamination, and then transferred to the export area.
Vit Plant puts safety first as workers return to the jobsite
Facing a shortage of handwashing stations, the Vit Plant team designed and built its own stations to keep workers returning to the jobsite safe.
When faced with a challenge, the Vit Plant team finds creative ways of getting the job done. Long lead times for and shortages in commercial portable handwashing stations prompted the Distribs team to design and build its own – modeled after the RV industry.
As a result, 12 custom-built stations have been deployed across the jobsite and allow employees to follow handwashing guidelines to help prevent COVID-19.
Arnie Muth, a senior field engineer, had spent more than a decade in the RV industry before joining the Vit Plant. Muth combined his knowledge with senior field engineer Matt VanDerRhoer’s drafting skills to design and build the handwashing stations.
“We quickly realized that ‘out-of-the-box’ stations were in short supply,” explains Muth. “If we couldn’t buy them, we would build them. We adopted plumbing design principles found in the RV and marine industry and worked with the Procurement team to get those same industry parts delivered.”
The Vit Plant has also installed temperature check stations and sneeze guards at the jobsite and reduced seating in lunchrooms and meeting rooms to allow for social distancing.
The Vit Plant is remobilizing its workforce per direction from the Department of Energy and in coordination with the rest of the Hanford Site. The majority of the Hanford workforce continues to telework while site work activities methodically continue under the established health and safety protocols, which include physical distancing, use of face coverings, and increased cleaning services.
Pipefitter has seen, done it all at Vit Plant jobsite
Bernie Hecker, yellow hard hat perched on his head, navigates a white pickup through the middle of Vit Plant jobsite. He points to the facilities and systems he’s worked on since joining the project in 2001.
“I helped install all the piping we’re driving over now,” he says, gesturing widely on a sunny day in February. “I don’t think people realize how much piping runs through and between the facilities.”
Hecker was the first pipefitter journeyman to join the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Project in December 2001, and he is now the longest continuously employed craft employee on the project.
Bernie Hecker stands next to the 36-inch-diameter, cement-lined ductile iron pipe he helped install outside the Vit Plant's Chiller Compressor Plant. NOTE: This photo was taken in February 2020 before COVID-19 safety protocols were put in place.
Bechtel pledges $100,000 to Tri-Cities for COVID-19 response
In May, the Bechtel Group Foundation donated $100,000 to the United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties for its COVID-19 Response Fund to help local nonprofits address food insecurity and mental and behavioral health impacts of the pandemic.
The donation was part of the Foundation’s new $3 million COVID-19 Relief Fund set up to support urgent human needs in communities across the world where Bechtel employees live and work.
“Bechtel has been a member of the Tri-Cities community for more than 40 years,” said Valerie McCain, Bechtel principal vice president. “This is an amazing and resilient community. I’m honored that we can help our friends and neighbors in these most challenging of times.”
LoAnn Ayers, president and CEO of the United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties, said the funds will provide much-needed support to nonprofits across the Tri-Cities.
In May, hundreds of individuals donated to the Hanford Feeding Families Campaign that benefited Second Harvest. The campaign surpassed its $50,000 goal, raising enough to supply more than 250,000 meals to the local community.
The Vit Plant teamed with other Hanford contractor companies and its labor partners, HAMTC and Central Washington Building Trades to respond to an increase in community needs due to COVID-19.
In The Details
Featured Photo: Paving the Way to Progress
Vit Plant and Inland Paving crews are completing paving work while following new safety measures. Some workers have returned to the jobsite as part of the Hanford Site's phased return.