The Project Management Institute (PMI) named a Hanford Site tank recovery effort its international Project of the Year for 2017 after EM’s Office of River Protection (ORP) completed the work ahead of schedule and $8.7 million under budget.
PMI’s top annual award goes to large, complex projects that cost more than $100 million and best deliver superior performance of project management practices, superior organizational results, and positive impacts on society.
The institute’s two 2017 project excellence awards for North America also went to EM: upgrades to a Hanford AP Tank Farm exhauster and a Savannah River Site (SRS) underground liquid-waste tank closure, the site’s eighth. PMI honored the three EM projects at its recent Global Project Management Conference in Chicago.
“I am proud that the Project Management Institute chose to recognize the important work underway to address one of our largest environmental challenges — radioactive tank waste,” Acting EM Assistant Secretary Jim Owendoff said. “These awards are a recognition of the dedicated and talented workforce we have at the Hanford and Savannah River sites, and across the entire Environmental Management program. Our ability to perform projects, such as those recognized by PMI, ahead of schedule and under cost demonstrate our commitment to performing our mission in a safe and efficient manner while serving as a good steward of taxpayer resources.”
ORP completed the retrieval and transfer of high-level radioactive waste from tank AY-102 in February, 17 days ahead of a deadline to meet a Settlement Agreement milestone signed in September 2014 between ORP, Washington State Department of Ecology, and ORP’s tank farms contractor Washington River Protection Solutions.
“The AY-102 project not only significantly reduced potential threats to the environment, but also provided plenty of lessons learned,” said Reggie Eakins Jr., ORP project manager for AY-102. “The team at Hanford is sharing our experience with other nuclear storage sites across the country about how to save time, money, and resources on future projects.”
AY-102, the first of the 28 double-shell tanks built at Hanford that began operating in 1970, was taken out of service in 2012 after it was discovered that a small amount of waste leaked from the inner tank into the annulus between the inner and outer tank shells. The waste was contained in the annulus and there is no indication it leaked into the environment.
Waste retrieval operations began in March 2016, with two sluicers spraying high-pressure liquid to mobilize the waste and pump it from the tank. About 725,000 gallons of radioactive and chemical waste – 98 percent of the tank’s original waste volume – was retrieved in March and April 2016.
PMI recognized the AP Farm Ventilation Upgrades Project for designing, fabricating and installing a new ventilation system for the eight AP tanks. ORP and contractor AECOM completed this work in 2016 to enable the AP Farm to receive, stage, and transfer millions of gallons of waste to Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant for vitrification.
The institute honored EM and the SRS liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) for closure of the 1-million-gallon Tank 12. DOE declared the tank operationally closed in April 2016, about a month ahead of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deadline.
DOE-Savannah River Manager Jack Craig said remediating waste tanks at SRS is critical to EM’s cleanup mission, including risk reduction.
“Closing Tank 12 was an important milestone in furthering the Department of Energy's environmental cleanup mission at the Savannah River Site,” said Craig. “I commend SRR for their work on Tank 12 and receiving this award.”
Workers removed the tank’s sludge and salt waste, which was then immobilized through the site’s Defense Waste Processing and Saltstone Production facilities. Crews cleaned the tank and filled it with more than 900,000 gallons of grout.
SRR President and Project Manager Tom Foster said the contractor’s work to clean up legacy waste has tremendous value for the community, state, and nation.
“It will continue to have an impact for generations to come,” Foster said. “This award is further proof of the crucial work the SRR team completes for our nation.”