Inspection Report: DOE-OIG-20-23

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January 8, 2020

Management of Dosimetry Services at the Hanford Site

Two Department of Energy organizations oversee environmental restoration at the radiologically contaminated Hanford Site located in the state of Washington.  The first organization, the Department’s Office of River Protection (River Protection) is responsible for cleanup of the Hanford Site tank waste.  River Protection’s mission is to retrieve and treat Hanford Site’s tank waste and close the tank farms to protect the environmental integrity of the Columbia River.  The second organization, the Richland Operations Office, is responsible for ensuring nuclear waste and facility cleanup, and overall management of the Hanford Site.  The Richland Operations Office’s mission is to restore the Columbia River corridor and transition the Hanford Central Plateau to a remediated state.  The Richland Operations Office oversees several contractors, one of which is Mission Support Alliance who provides dosimetry services under the Hanford Site’s Radiological Site Services (RSS). 

Dosimetry is the science of determining radiation dose by measurement and/or calculation.  RSS provides external and internal dosimetry, radiological instrumentation, and records management services to all contractors working at the Hanford Site.  The main dosimetry service users are Washington River Protection Solutions, overseen by River Protection, and CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company, overseen by the Richland Operations Office. 

While the Hanford Site’s RSS Records Program is a longstanding, mature organization staffed by knowledgeable and dedicated individuals, we found opportunities to improve the RSS Records Program.  Specifically, we identified inconsistent dosimetry record practices that placed records at risk in the past and continue to pose a risk to the accuracy and completeness of the records.  For example, one contractor did not provide complete history forms for some of its Hanford Site employees as required by the Hanford Radiological Records Program Manual.  In addition, although not required, contractors were not utilizing standard record forms available through Mission Support Alliance.  The use of standard forms can reduce the amount of followup effort and help in the accuracy and completeness of the records.

We determined that actions are needed to ensure records are accurate and complete by defining the Federal oversight responsibility, establishing consistent requirements, and implementing standardized forms.  Such actions will also help limit the risk of Federal Government liability through the Energy Employee Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.  This program compensates current and former Department employees for any occupational illnesses causally linked to toxic exposures in the Department work environment.

Topic: Management and Adminstration