Chemical Vapor and Worker Protection Study at the Hanford Site

AIKEN, SC (June 23, 2014) – At the request of Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) has assembled a team of recognized experts to perform an independent review of the chemical vapors program at the Hanford nuclear waste cleanup site in Washington state.  WRPS is the Department of Energy contractor responsible for management and cleanup of nuclear and hazardous waste currently stored in underground tanks at Hanford.


The team is comprised of members from academia, industry, and government agencies, and includes a representative of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council.


The team will be chaired by Dr. Bill Wilmarth, a senior scientist at SRNL.  Dr. Wilmarth has 25 years of experience in nuclear material processing and over 15 years of experience in high level radioactive waste storage and processing.


The vice-chairman will be Dr. Andrew Maier an Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine, Department of Environmental Health.  Dr. Maier is a Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology, and a Toxicology Fellow for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.  His research focuses on occupational risk assessment methods and tools.




Team members also include a former Administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, former member and consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board, and fellow and former president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association.  In addition, the team assembled brings a wide range of knowledge and expertise across many disciplines including the fields of air emission releases from storage tanks, worker safety, risk assessments, and biological monitoring and modeling.


“The team members are internationally recognized leaders in their fields, and I appreciate their willingness to provide a fresh look at Hanford tank farm occupational health and safety,” said Wilmarth.  “Our goal is to provide a set of independent recommendations that will help to reduce the likelihood of chemical exposures, and will improve overall workplace safety.”


The team will assess the current situation with regard to chemical vapor exposure; review the current industrial hygiene program as it relates to chemical vapor exposure; and, provide recommendations and identify further enhancements to the WRPS programs and practices to eliminate or minimize worker exposure.  The team will include a full assessment of the response to two prior technical reviews conducted in 2008 and 2010.


The team is expected to provide a draft report by the end of summer and complete their final report by December.  DOE will release both reports unaltered to the public.  A list of team members is attached.


SRNL is a multi-program applied research and development laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy that is managed and operated by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.  For more information, visit http://srnl.doe.gov.

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