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Nuclear Industry Leader Joins WTP to Advance Project's Safety Culture

  • 14 March 2012
  • Americas, Defense & Nuclear Security, Press Release, Waste Processing & Disposal

Ward Sproat to Lead Next Phase of Continuous Safety Culture Improvement Program

Bechtel Corporation announced today that Edward "Ward" Sproat is leading a comprehensive effort to advance the nuclear safety and quality culture at the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant (WTP), also known as the "Vit Plant." Bechtel National, Inc. (BNI), a member of the Bechtel group of companies, is designing and constructing the Vit Plant.

A recognized expert in the nuclear industry, Sproat served as the Department of Energy (DOE) director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management prior to joining Bechtel in 2009. He will guide WTP’s senior management in developing an integrated plan to address recommendations regarding the project’s safety culture. The recommendations stem from safety culture assessments and analyses conducted by multiple groups, including the DOE’s Office of Health, Safety and Security, the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board (DNFSB), and the Independent Safety and Quality Culture Assessment Team, as well as the Vit Plant employee survey.

"Our commitment is to cultivate a world-class nuclear safety and quality culture that will help achieve our important clean-up mission," Frank Russo, Vit Plant project director, said. "Ward’s experience at the DOE and in the commercial nuclear power sector makes him the right person to help guide this focused effort."

"Over the next two to three months, my role is to advise senior management and develop a blueprint for the continuous review and improvement of the project," Sproat said. "The plan will prioritize actions, provide a means to track the status of the actions, and enable DOE oversight and coordination of actions, as appropriate." A report on the proposed approach will be delivered to the DOE in April.

Bechtel’s design and construction of the Vit Plant will protect the public and the environment by responsibly solving the serious problem posed by 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. The waste, a byproduct of plutonium production during World War II and the Cold War era, is currently stored in underground tanks in southeastern Washington State. The Vit Plant will immobilize the liquid waste by turning it into glass using the proven vitrification technology.

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