Employees from West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) receive a briefing from Jason Casper, vice president of Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant Closure Project and former vice president of WVDP contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley.
Employees from West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) receive a briefing from Jason Casper, vice president of Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant Closure Project and former vice president of WVDP contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley.

WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – An EM team from the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) recently visited the Hanford Site in Washington state to learn lessons from the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) demolition project to apply to a future teardown at WVDP.

The WVDP representatives toured the PFP site and received a project update. PFP demolition activities resumed nearly a year ago after work was stopped in December 2017 following a spread of low levels of contamination. PFP was the last stop of Cold War plutonium processing on the Hanford Site.

Demolition on West Valley’s Main Plant Process Building (MPPB), which was used to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, is scheduled to start in the near future. PFP and MPPB contain similar industrial, hazardous, and radiological risks.

“Being able to share experiences, expertise, and lessons learned is an important element in being a learning organization,” EM WVDP Federal Project Director Dan Sullivan said. “Tailoring what we’ve learned to our comprehensive planning process is a formula for success.”

From left, Robert Wade, Plutonium Finishing Plant health and safety director; Tommy Fontaine, industrial and radiation safety manager with West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley (CHBWV);

The PFP project implemented a series of corrective actions before resuming lower-risk demolition activities last September. A phased demolition approach, enhanced safety controls, increased worker engagement, and improved oversight, among other actions, have proved effective in protecting workers, the environment, and the public. PFP demolition is expected to be completed early next year.

“The Plutonium Finishing Plant is happy to share our lessons learned in support of similar risk reduction activities at West Valley,” said Jason Casper, vice president of the PFP Closure Project for Hanford Site contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company. “The open exchange of information and collaboration among the sites benefits cleanup efforts across the DOE complex.”

Tommy Fontaine, industrial safety and radiation manager with WVDP cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley, said obtaining insight from lessons learned is a continual activity.

“Our learning has not stopped. It continues everyday as we perform cleanup efforts to reduce legacy risks,” Fontaine said. “Hanford and WVDP, along with other sites, will continue to share lessons learned and best practices for the benefit of our employees, the public, and the environment.”