RICHLAND, Wash. - 

Long-time VIT plant project director, Valerie McCain died suddenly on Monday, March 27, according to a press release from Bechtel.

"I feel very blessed to have worked beside Val," said Staci West, communication manager for Bechtel.

West told me McCain was well respected by all of her employees and co-workers.

"I think anyone who knew her, knew how much she genuinely cared about people," said West. "She led this team with a passion for the mission and compassion for the core of everything that she did."

McCain was the project leader of over 2,000 employees.

She started working for Bechtel in 2018 and was the project director for the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant or WTP, also known as the VIT plant

West tells me McCain lead the team to complete the construction of the plant and move to 24/7 operations.

On top of her work at Bechtel, McCain served on four different boards: Columbia Industries, the STEM Foundation, the Energy Facility Contractor's Group and TRIDEC.

Michael Lempke released this statement on the death of McCain saying :

"Val McCain was not only a well-respected industry leader but a colleague, friend and mentor to many throughout the U.S. Department of Energy complex. Her dedication and expertise were invaluable to the Energy Facility Contractors Group as the organization worked to help ensure DOE is successful in its important national security, environmental research and scientific missions. Val was especially focused on how the companies that work at DOE sites could conduct their operations in a safer, more efficient and more effective manner. I know I speak for many when I say how dearly she'll be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this difficult time."

McCain was first elected to the EFCOG board in 2021 and was re-elected to a three-year term in 2022, according to the EFCOG.

Columbia Industries President and CEO Michael Novakovich told me even though she only started on the board at C.I. last November, she left a mark.

"Just the limited interactions with Val," said Novakovich. "Just found her interested in what they were doing and obviously interested in the success of Columbia Industries."

West says she and the company want to honor her work and legacy.

"This mission was very important to her," said West. "We're going to keep it going"