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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Allyson Ferry quickly proved her value as a new employee of the EM cleanup at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory Site soon after graduating from the University of Michigan with a chemical engineering degree.

The engineer was excited to begin work for EM cleanup contractor Fluor Idaho on the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) — a facility completed in 2012 to treat 900,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste from an underground tank farm.

When Ferry came to Idaho for the job interview in 2017, she was told that engineers were experiencing challenges getting the facility started up. But that didn’t deter her interest in the least.

“I liked the idea of working on a first-of-a-kind facility,” she said. “It offered a unique opportunity.”

Integrated Waste Treatment Unit Engineer Allyson Ferry.
Integrated Waste Treatment Unit Engineer Allyson Ferry.

The career in the cleanup project would also give her an opportunity to serve another interest of hers.

“I got my minor in environmental engineering and like the idea of cleaning up the environment,” she added.

Ferry’s first role at the IWTU involved improving the fluidization of billions of tiny beads in the facility’s primary reaction vessel. She helped develop a new fluidizing gas distribution system that better fluidizes the beads, which are necessary to convert liquid waste into a solid under the right temperatures and pressure.

In July 2018, Ferry saw the fruits of her labor during the first demonstration run with the new system in place.

Working on the IWTU has been extremely rewarding, Ferry said.

“I’ve really loved my time out here,” she said. “The people I work with have been very receptive to mentoring me in any way they can. That has helped me grow and establish my career. I’ve learned a ton since being here and I continue to learn every day.”

Editor's note: In an occasional series, EM Update profiles early career professionals across the EM complex.

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