Both employees are part of a team working to ensure more than 3,000 SRS buildings and structures comply with SRNS procedures.
Both employees are part of a team working to ensure more than 3,000 SRS buildings and structures comply with SRNS procedures.

AIKEN, S.C. – An EM team is working to resolve issues and questions related to asbestos at more than 3,000 buildings and structures across the 310-square-mile Savannah River Site (SRS).

The team from EM contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) is completing the inspections according to federal and state regulations. So far, it has finished inspecting 1,281 buildings.

“We’re working closely with each facility to implement a strategic approach to this challenge,” said Melissa Hanshew, the SRNS environmental compliance and area completion projects operations support manager.

The team includes six highly qualified inspectors. They are supported by asbestos experts who evaluate issues, questions or events related to asbestos at the site. Those experts — known as the Asbestos Triad — include an asbestos program administrator, asbestos project designer and an industrial hygiene asbestos subject matter expert. That group’s most important duty is making the final decision on all things asbestos.

Asbestos, a known carcinogen, is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral found throughout the world. Because of its strength and heat resistance, asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant. It has also been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, including automobile clutch, brake and transmission parts, heat-resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings.

“Asbestos has a bad reputation, but in fact, it played an important historical role at the site beginning in the 1950s during the Cold War,” said Hanshew. “Properly controlled and managed, it is still used today within many products, materials and structures throughout the U.S., even in newer buildings.”

Working with the Asbestos Triad, personnel within facilities managed by SRNS are required to complete three actions:

  • Develop a facility asbestos inventory;
  • Ensure asbestos signs and labels are legible and not deteriorated;
  • Verify the facility workgroups have completed asbestos awareness training.

“I’m proud of our asbestos team,” said Hanshew. “Each member of the team continually demonstrates a high level of knowledge and experience related to this field and are dedicated to safely and promptly reducing the number of facilities requiring an asbestos inventory to zero.”