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Possible leak investigated at US nuclear site after worker discovers radioactive materials on clothing A possible leak is being investigated at a US nuclear facility after radioactive material was found on a worker’s clothing. The probe began after a contractor with Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), detected a spike in radiation levels on a device called a "crawler" that had been pulled out of a nuclear waste tank. "Established decontamination procedures were followed, which involves removing the contaminated clothing. Further surveying the worker showed no contamination remained. No other workers were affected, and all members of the crew were cleared for normal duty," said WRPS spokesman Peter Bengtson. The Double-Shell Tank AZ-101 contains 800,000 gallons of nuclear waste, according to the Washington Department of Ecology, which oversees the Hanford site. Offshore wind power set to be cheaper than nuclear, closing in on coal Washington governor Jay Inslee called it a “serious situation”, and managers of the plant sent workers a message telling them to “secure ventilation in your building” and to “refrain from eating or drinking". The discovery follows an incident last week, which forced hundreds of workers to “take cover”, after a tunnel in the nuclear finishing plant collapsed in Washington State. The tunnel collapse had been found by workers on patrol, and while researchers did not find leaked or spilled radioactive materials, it nevertheless caused concern. Several officials are calling for an investigation of the site, fearing additional leaks. Maia Bellon, director of the Washington Department of Ecology, is requesting “an immediate investigation by US Dept of Energy into contamination [and] potential leak in a Hanford nuclear waste tank”. Spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said: "The US Department of Energy is continuing to monitor the situation at Hanford double-shell tank AZ-101. There is currently no sign of a leak from the tank into the environment. We are continuing to investigate to determine the source of contamination found on equipment late last week. Preparations are underway to conduct video inspections of the space between the inner and outer shells of the tank, known as the annulus, and those inspections are set to begin later this week. "The worker who had contamination on his clothing last week has not experienced any skin contamination or signs of exposure that would cause negative health impacts. The Department is committed to ensuring the safety of its workforce, the public and the environment, and will continue to keep stakeholders apprised as more information becomes available."Located in south-central Washington, the former plutonium production site was used to help develop the American nuclear arsenal 70 years ago. A private contractor has since been hired by on a $110bn (£84.4bn) project to clean up 56 million gallons of chemical and nuclear waste, stored in approximately 177 underground tanks.


Berriochoa M.V.,WRPS
Radwaste Solutions | Year: 2011

Removing waste from U.S. Department of Energy's Hanford's storage tanks is one of the most difficult environmental challenges in the entire DOE complex. Tanks are buried under 10 feet of soil and were built to put waste in, not take it out. The new Venturi system safely removes multiple forms of waste solids from the leaking tanks without allowing more liquids to escape. The fluid injected at the head end flows smoothly to the receiver tank at the rate of 70 gpm at a pressure of 100 pounds per square inch. The prototype vacuum retrieval system is attached to a robotic arm. The vacuum system is being tested in a variety of waste simulants ranging from thick sludge to dense sand. The fluidizer nozzles are a fan spray on each side of the head that run between 8 and 30 gallons per minute as needed. They create a water broom to move waste into the head. Currently outfitted with two types of spray nozzles, the system can use fluidizer nozzles to wash waste, such as sludges, into the head, thinning as it goes.


Berriochoa M.,WRPS
Radwaste Solutions | Year: 2011

Significant advancements in Surface Geophysical Exploration (SGE) technology and improvements in computational capabilities were enabling scientists at the US Department of Energy's Hanford Site in Washington State to explore radioactive and chemical waste plumes in the soil around underground radioactive waste storage tanks. SGE had enhanced the ability of scientists to gather more information about soil contamination so that they took appropriate action to protect the environment. The first application of SGE technology was adapted from the mining industry and after that it improved significantly to find use in other areas. A significant advancement in the technology came when a team of researchers combined SGE with Direct Push technology. The SGE work at SGE work at Hanford had an added benefit as it was driving the development of standard processing software that were used by scientists at such sites around the world.


Roxburgh R.,WRPS | Britton J.,WRPS
Radwaste Solutions | Year: 2013

A leak was discovered in the annulus of one of the Hanford's double shell tanks, AY-102, which contains 850000 gallons of high level waste from the past production of weapons-grade plutonium. Tests performed on samples of material found in the annulus between the inner and outer walls of AY-102 show that HLW has leaked from the primary tank, according to a report prepared by Hanford Tank Operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS). The waste was first discovered in the 30-inch-wide annulus space in early August 2012. To get a clearer picture, video cameras were lowered into the annulus through 10 different access pipes. Images taken with the cameras showed three suspicious spots. The report suggests construction problems coupled with the heat generated by the waste likely led to corrosion of the bottom of the primary shell of AY-102. The report also concluded that it's probable that the bottom of the inner shell is leaking in one place, with the waste coming out in two places through ventilation channels in the refractory used to help cool the tank.


Berriochoa M.V.,WRPS
Radwaste Solutions | Year: 2010

Surface geophysical exploration (SEG) technology has been successfully used by the scientists at the Hanford Site to obtain 3-D images of radioactive and chemical waste plumes. Hanford has used SGE for the past few years to locate these contaminant plumes, and it has proven to be effective, but until recently it has been able to show only the breadth of a plume, not the depth. The plumes were created from tank leaks that occurred decades ago, with the largest in the early 1970 at 1150000 gal. Well casings are used in conjunction with steel probes inserted into the soil to locate plumes of contaminants beneath radioactive waste storage tanks. The use of SGE, especially at depth, is taking us orders of magnitude closer to where we need to be in defining the extent of the problem of these waste plumes in the soil. SGE also gives a starting point which will allows to see if there is movement of the plumes overtime.


LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AECOM, a premier, fully integrated global infrastructure firm, announced today that together with Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), an AECOM-led team, it has won the Campbell Institute’s 2017 Innovation Challenge for its Physiological Monitoring Program, which eliminated heat-stress disorders by adapting wearable technology for its remote field teams. The Innovation Challenge honors organizations for their achievement in the implementation of an innovative program that addresses specific key environmental, health and safety (EHS) challenges. WRPS is responsible for the safe storage of 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste stored in underground tanks at the Hanford Site, a decommissioned nuclear production complex, managed by U.S. Department of Energy, in Richland, Washington. Employees faced an elevated risk of heat stress by working remotely in heavy personal protection equipment on the project site, where summer temperatures average above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). To ensure an effective heat stress monitoring program, WRPS developed a chest-mounted device that remotely measures employees’ body temperature and heart rate. The data is transmitted back in real time to a trained technician who uses it to monitor the employees for signs of heat stress. After implementing the program in 2015, WRPS has now completed two years without heat-stress disorders and no related work stoppages. “It is an honor to be recognized as an innovation leader by the Campbell Institute,” said AECOM’s Andy Peters, senior vice president and chief safety officer. “Innovative solutions allow us to continuously strengthen our safety program to safeguard our people and help deliver our clients’ projects.” “Our success in developing and implementing this effective and valuable safety management tool could not have happened without the engagement, collaboration and strong commitment shown by the entire team,” said Mark Lindholm, WRPS president and project manager. The Campbell Institute is the EHS center of excellence at the National Safety Council (United States). It enables organizations to achieve and sustain environmental, health and safety excellence. For more information, visit www.thecampbellinstitute.org. AECOM has been a Campbell Institute member since 2014. AECOM is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. As a fully integrated firm, we connect knowledge and experience across our global network of experts to help clients solve their most complex challenges. From high-performance buildings and infrastructure, to resilient communities and environments, to stable and secure nations, our work is transformative, differentiated and vital. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM had revenue of approximately $17.4 billion during fiscal year 2016. See how we deliver what others can only imagine at aecom.com and @AECOM.

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