WCH won over government regulators by walking them through all the
steps it would take to mitigate risks and complete the job as promised. ;e
approach had a trickle-down e;ect as satis;ed regulators passed on their
praise to federal lawmakers who approved annual funding for the project,
Mr. Sax says.
;e team also held public demonstrations to show the community and
local media how WCH was mitigating and managing safety risks, he says.
;ose displays of expertise led to news reports, which, in turn, helped WCH
generate community support and develop stakeholder trust.
;e lesson was clear: “People will trust the watchdogs more than they trust
the team that’s actually doing the work,” Mr. Sax says.
BACK TO NATURE
Remediation on the Hanford site will continue for years to come, but the
River Corridor Base Scope project was completed in January 2014. And it’s
a powerful case study in showing that quality, e;ciency and safety are not
;e project ;nished US$227 million under budget and two years ahead of
schedule, earning WCH a bonus of US$30.2 million. ;e team also earned
one of the best safety records documented by the U.S. Department of Energy.
WCH had two long stretches during the project when it lost no time because
of an accident or injury. During each stretch, combining all workers’ time,
the team completed more than 5 million consecutive hours of work without
a time-loss safety incident.
And the project’s bene;ts are already as clear as the Columbia River’s
pristine waters. A portion of the Hanford site is slated to become part of
the Manhattan Project National Park. But it’s not just about building
some monument to the Cold War. It’s about returning Hanford
to its natural state.
“;e groups here at WCH are environmentalists at their core. ;ey
want to restore the land,” Mr. Sax says. “It’s not a farm. It’s not a ranch.
It’s not a city. It’s what it was before all that.” PM
A Post-Nuclear Renewal
1987: The U.S. government closes the Hanford
Nuclear Reservation, located along the banks of
the Columbia River in Washington, USA. It is the
largest toxic waste site in U.S. history.
2005: The U.S. Department of Energy chooses
joint venture Washington Closure Hanford (WCH)
to manage the US$2 billion River Corridor Base
Scope project. Its goal is to remediate 220 square
miles (570 square kilometers) of the Hanford site.
January 2012: WCH reaches 6 million hours of
work without an accident or injury.
September 2012: The team completes the
cocooning for interim stabilization of the
N-Reactor area, which had produced plutonium
for nuclear weapons.
July 2013: 15 million tons of contaminated
debris, most of it from the River Corridor project
area, is disposed of at the Hanford site.
January 2014: WCH completes the project two
years ahead of schedule and US$227 million
excellence in 2016.
Above, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation
during operation. Right, after field
remediation work in June 2012, only the
cocooned F Reactor remained.