PaintSquare.com
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site

 

Advertisement

PaintSquare


Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


Audit Takes Aim at DOE, Hanford Contractors

Monday, April 30, 2018

More items for Quality Control
More items from North America

Comment | More

A new report from the federal Government Accountability Office indicates that problems at the site of the construction of a waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington state continue, and the Department of Energy and design-build contractor Bechtel National Inc. share the responsibility for ongoing quality-assurance issues.

The Hanford site, a decommissioned nuclear site where the first nuclear bomb ever tested was built, has been undergoing cleanup for nearly 30 years, and the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) has been in the works since 2000, when Bechtel was awarded the design-build contract for what the government calls a “complex, first-of-its-kind project.”

Hanford Site
Tobin Fricke, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The GAO investigation found that quality-assurance issues found at the Hanford Site project in the past were not all corrected.

The WTP will eventually treat nuclear waste that is currently being stored in 177 storage tanks on the site. Radioactive waste will undergo a process called vitrification, in which it is converted to a more stable glass substance, locking in the dangerous waste so it can’t leak out.

The WTP project has been plagued by repeated timeline delays and cost increases, including a 2012 work stoppage based on findings by the DOE’s Office of River Protection. The ORP said at the time that it could not verify that work had been completed to nuclear standards, and recommended a complete stoppage; Bechtel stopped only some operations at that time.

The project is now projected to cost $17 billion, more than triple its original cost estimate.

The GAO Report

The GAO, an official watchdog agency that audits government operations to monitor waste and ethics, released a report April 24 detailing its investigation of operations on the WTP project, brought on in response to the delays and cost overruns.

The GAO says in the report that the ORP has not ensured that all problems with the project have been identified, nor that the known problems have been addressed. “DOE audits have found that previously identified quality assurance problems have recurred in key areas,” the report notes, including the procurement of materials that don’t meet standards.

Hanford WTP
Department of Energy

The investigation looked at operations involved in the construction of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, which will eventually be the site of vitrification processes at the facility.

In 2016, Bechtel and AECOM Technology Corp. (which bought Hanford contractor URS Corp. in 2014) settled with the Department of Justice to the tune of $125 million over charges that Bechtel and URS did subpar work over more than a decade at the Hanford site (not limited to the WTP), charging the DOE for higher-quality materials than they actually used.

Storage Tank Leaks, Deterioration

While the WTP continues construction, the storage tanks housing the facility’s waste continue to raise concerns about leaks and deterioration. According to Washington’s Department of Ecology, at least 67 of the tanks at the site have leaked more than 1 million gallons of waste over the years.

The tank farm consists of 139 single-shell tanks and 28 double-shell tanks, with reinforced concrete secondary containment. Ecology has pushed the DOE to construct more double-shell tanks since leaks were first discovered more than five years ago.

Tank AY-102, the first double-shell tank to have been built at the site (in the early 1970s), was taken out of service early this year after an inspection of the inner steel tank found seven areas where toxic sludge was leaking into the secondary containment.

The tanks hold waste that includes uranium 235, plutonium 238 and strontium 90.

Last year, a tunnel housing railcars full of waste collapsed at the site, raising concerns about possible releases of radiation. The incident reportedly did not result in any release of contamination, but the state of Washington took steps to penalize the DOE over the collapse.

About the Site

Constructed in 1943 and 1944 and instrumental in the development of the United States' nuclear program, the Hanford Site has been shut down since 1987, and cleanup efforts began in 1989. The 586-square-mile site on the Columbia River is nearly half the area of Rhode Island.

   

Tagged categories: Contractors; Nuclear Power Plants; Quality assurance; U.S. Department of Energy

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Advertisements
 
Fischer Technology Inc.
 
FISCHER Expands Corrosion Product Line
 
Rounding out Fischer’s extensive line of products for measuring protective coatings in the corrosion industry is the new ultrasonic wall thickness gauge UMP series.
 

 
KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office
 
Instrument Service Department
 
Are you a QP certified contractor? KTA’s Instrument Service Department can help keep you compliant!
Click or call 1-800-KTA-GAGE.
 

 
HoldTight Solutions Inc.
 
Clean surfaces simply don't rust, and no other product cleans like HoldTight®
 
HoldTight® is a wet blasting additive that decreases the water’s surface tension, allowing it to get into the pores of the surface and remove ALL contamination, including salts, acids, abrasives, light oils, and greases. HoldTight® leaves behind zero unwanted residue, and evaporates with the water, providing a surface that is thoroughly clean and ready for a tightly adhered coating bond for up to 72 hours.
 

 
US Minerals
 
Hit Harder. Clean Faster.
 
Learn more at www.blackdiamondabrasives.com.
 

 
DeFelsko Corporation
 
PosiTector SST Soluble Salt Tester
 
Measures the concentration of soluble salts on metal surfaces. Use with all Bresle patch types including the reusable, adhesive-free PosiPatch.
 

 
SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings
 
http://www.sspc.org/
 
Join SSPC and Enhance
Your Career !
 

 
SEMicro Division, M.E. Taylor Engineering, Inc.
 
Stop Guessing the Classification Rating of Your Cross Hatch Adhesion Testing Results
 
SEMicro's newly-patented Adhesion Testing Analyzer takes the guesswork out of cross hatch tape adhesion testing standards such as ASTM D3359 and ISO 2409.
 

 
SABRE Autonomous Solutions
 
Safety
 
Removing blasting operators from harmful environments is our key objective.
 

 
BASF
 
New resins from BASF will have metals loving water!
 
Excellent corrosion resistance, low VOC, high gloss, thin films www.basf.us/industrialcoatings dpsolutions@basf.com 800-231-7868
 

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us