Long Awaited Report From Hanford Waste Tank Vapor Assessment Tea - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Long Awaited Report From Hanford Waste Tank Vapor Assessment Team Released

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Hanford tank farm vapors report released Hanford tank farm vapors report released
HANFORD, WA - A team of experts led by the Savannah River National Laboratory released a long awaited report on vapors at Hanford Tank Farms today.  See statements issued by the team from the Savannah River lab, the contractor in charge of the tank farms, Washington River Protection Solutions, and a link to the full report below:



A team of independent experts led by the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) has issued its Report on Chemical Vapor Issues at the Hanford Tank Farm today. 

The ten-member team was formed in June 2014 at the request of Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), the contractor responsible for management and cleanup of nuclear and hazardous waste currently stored in underground tanks at Hanford. 

The report includes ten overarching recommendations and more than 40 supporting recommendations that are focused on improvements in the industrial hygiene programs at the tank farm facilities and, in the team's view, will reduce the likelihood of personnel exposures to tank vapors.  The team will also comment on the implementation plan being developed by WRPS.

Dr. Bill Wilmarth of SRNL, the team lead, made the following statement:

“This has been an independent, focused effort that we believe has identified improvements not only for the short term, but for the remaining lifecycle of the Hanford tank farms.

“I appreciate the time and effort not only of the team, but also of all the people who helped us to gain an understanding of the Hanford operations.  Further, I want to acknowledge the effort that WRPS made to review our draft report for factual accuracy.  Our recommendations have not changed, but the review process has helped to clarify the report. 

“One of the key analyses that we accomplished was to apply a well-established set of criteria to determine whether there was a causal link between tank vapor exposures and the adverse health effects experienced by tank farm workers.  The analysis indicated that this was the case.

“The team used a combination of testimony from tank farm workers, engineering data and computational modeling to support the plausibility of a transient, acute exposure scenario.  Verifying and quantifying transient acute exposure requires an approach different from traditional design of full-shift industrial hygiene monitoring.  The team made recommendations for controlling and detecting these emissions, and protecting the workforce.” 


WRPS Statement on TVAT Report


Worker safety is a core value of Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), and the company initiated the Tank Vapor Assessment Team (TVAT) review as part of its commitment to eliminate or further reduce worker exposure to chemical vapors.  

WRPS has made substantial improvements in the Hanford tank farms' chemical vapor management program since being selected to operate the tank farms in 2008 and believes the TVAT recommendations will help it move to an even greater level of worker protection. 

Based on a review of an earlier draft report, implementation of some recommendations has already begun or been completed, including the required use of minimum half-face respirators in single-shell tank farms, starting in September, and the hiring of additional industrial hygiene staff.

The report recognizes WRPS' overall industrial hygiene approach is based on accepted industry health and safety practices which focus on protecting against the long-term health effects that can result from cumulative or ongoing exposures. But, the report cites significant challenges in dealing with short, intermittent, higher-concentration exposures the team believes are the likely cause of worker symptoms. 

The report's recommendations will serve as a road map to help WRPS make necessary enhancements in a number of areas.  The development of novel strategies or new technologies may be necessary to deal with the unique nature of Hanford tank waste.

In the weeks ahead, WRPS will complete a plan for implementing the TVAT recommendations and integrating those actions with the ongoing activities of its internal Chemical Vapor Solutions Team. 

Full implementation will be a multi-year effort and may require additional research and development. WRPS is committed to using the TVAT's efforts to enhance its current program and provide an increased level of protection for its workers.   

For a link to the full report click here.