SRNL assists DOE in chemical vapor exposure

  • Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:01 a.m.

The Savannah River National Laboratory, or SRNL, has assembled a panel of experts to perform an independent review of the chemical vapors program at the Hanford nuclear waste cleanup site in Washington state.

Washington River Protection Solutions asked the lab to assist in the review after more than three dozen Hanford workers have sought medical attention after smelling chemical vapors on the site.

The team Savannah River National Laboratory assembled is made up of members from academia, industry and government agencies, and includes a representative of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council.

The group will be chaired by Dr. Bill Wilmarth, a senior scientist at SRNL. Wilmarth is bringing with him 25 years of experience in nuclear material processing and more than 15 years of experience in high level radioactive waste storage and processing, according to the lab.

“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 in a press release. “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.”

Reports on the issue surfaced at the beginning of May when Washington River Protection Solutions first asked the lab to participate. Contractor President and Project Manager Dave Olson previously said the lab’s help will be a huge asset.

“This new review, with its broad scope and the involvement of recognized experts, will make a difference in better protecting Hanford workers from future chemical vapor exposures,” Olson said.

The review team is expected to provide a draft report by the end of summer and a final report by December. The reports will be released to the public.

The Savannah River National Lab employs more than 900 workers and has ongoing projects that possess local, national and international implications.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June 2013.

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