DOE recognized an EM team at the Savannah River Site (SRS) with its prestigious Project Management Excellence Award last week for successfully delivering a repository for radioactive grout eight months ahead of schedule and $32 million under budget, despite a lengthy work pause due to the pandemic.
According to an award citation signed by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, the Saltstone Disposal Unit (SDU) 7 provides critical support to the liquid waste organization’s vision to manage and safely process radioactive waste. The $159 million project delivered 33 million gallons of long-term storage for grout waste produced in the site’s Saltstone Production Facility (SPF) and allowed the site to meet its timelines for the disposition of decontaminated salt solution processed at the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White praised the SDU 7 team for its extraordinary work during an award presentation at the EM Project and Contract Management Workshop in Cincinnati, Ohio, last week. Participants in the workshop discussed new policies, initiatives and lessons learned in project and contract management activities.
“By taking a proactive approach to schedule management and working activities in parallel, the SDU 7 team was able to successfully mitigate the impacts of the COVID pandemic,” White said. “Through effective leadership, and risk management the team was able to bring this project in ahead of schedule, under budget — and perhaps even most importantly — without a single recordable safety event or issue.”
Each year, DOE recognizes various projects that have demonstrated excellence in project management. The Secretary's Excellence Award is presented to a project team that achieves “exceptional results” in completing a project within cost and schedule.
The SDU 7 team incorporated lessons learned into planning and execution phases from previously constructed units, including small SDUs and the first mega-volume unit, SDU 6, according to documents on the award nomination for the SDU 7 team. These improvements resulted in an increased capacity of more than 750,000 gallons and reduced the cost of SDU 7 by more than $10 million compared with the cost of SDU 6.
“All of this work paves the way for continued success with the SDU program, which just marked completion of concrete placements on the fourth mega-volume unit,” White said.
The head of EM gave special thanks to former SDU Federal Project Director Shayne Farrell, who participated in the award presentation. Farrell retired from federal service in May.
White also asked all team members attending the workshop to stand for applause.
"Congratulations guys," White added.
SDU 7 is the second mega-volume SDU. The mega-volume units are designed to contain 10 times the amount of waste than the smaller SDUs. The units are expected to generate over $500 million in lifecycle savings due to economies of scale requiring less infrastructure and materials to design and build.
Constructed from over 13,000 cubic yards of concrete, SDU 7 is 375 feet in diameter and 43 feet in height, wrapped with seven layers of wire cable 341 miles long. The tank walls are designed to expand outward as the tanks are filled, and the wire strand ensures the structural integrity of the cell wall is maintained while waste is added. The floor and roof are 12-inch-thick reinforced concrete. The roof is supported by 208 interior columns.
Charles (Chuck) Comeau, the federal project director for the SDU construction program, concluded the award presentation, expressing appreciation to Farrell.
“I just appreciated all the mentoring that Shayne did that helped me get where I am,” Comeau said. “He set us up for success. I look forward to the future and leading these last five SDUs. We’re doing well. Thank you.”
To receive the latest news and updates about the Office of Environmental Management, submit your e-mail address.