Safety Overhaul Planned for Award Winning Bechtel Project

Bechtel Corporation announced Edward Sproat, former director of DOE’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, will guide senior managers of the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant in planning for a “world-class nuclear safety and quality culture.”

The Hanford Waste Treatment Plant that Bechtel National Inc. is constructing in Richland, Wash. will be the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant. It won a Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award on Feb. 24 from the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), and now a top nuclear safety official with Bechtel is advising senior plant managers on how to develop a plan for a “world-class nuclear safety and quality culture,” Bechtel Corporation announced March 14.

Edward Sproat, former director of DOE’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, is leading the planning effort at the plant, which Bechtel calls the “Vit Plant” because it will immobilize 56 million gallons of liquid waste by turning it into glass using vitrification technology. The plan they come up with will address safety culture recommendations coming from assessments and analyses conducted by several groups, including DOE’s Office of Health, Safety and Security, the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board, the Independent Safety and Quality Culture Assessment Team, and a Vit Plant employee survey, according to Bechtel.

"Our commitment is to cultivate a world-class nuclear safety and quality culture that will help achieve our important cleanup mission," said Frank Russo, the Vit Plant project director. "Ward’s experience at the DOE and in the commercial nuclear power sector makes him the right person to help guide this focused effort."

"Over the next two to three months, my role is to advise senior management and develop a blueprint for the continuous review and improvement of the project," Sproat said. "The plan will prioritize actions, provide a means to track the status of the actions, and enable DOE oversight and coordination of actions, as appropriate."

A report on the proposed approach will be delivered to the DOE in April.

NHCA said the plant received the 2012 award for innovation in hearing loss prevention in the construction sector “for the comprehensive integration of their hearing loss prevention program components, for their innovative strategies to address industry specific challenges in the areas of noise monitoring, risk evaluation and risk communication, for adopting the NIOSH-recommended exposure limit of 85 dB with the 3 dB exchange rate, for promoting the active involvement of the workforce in their efforts, and for encouraging the adoption of their strategies by other Bechtel sites.”

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