Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility named ‘Project of the Year’

<p>UMCDF plant</p>

UMCDF plant

From the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility:

The Project Management Institute (PMI) named the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (UMCDF) the 2012 Project of the Year at its annual awards ceremony last weekend.

The award recognized the project and project team for “superior performance and exemplary execution of project management.”  PMI was particularly impressed with UMCDF’s ability to complete the operations phase of the project 935 days ahead of its life cycle schedule, and $385 million under budget. Another key attribute was UMCDF’s outstanding safety record. The project has surpassed six years and 10.7 million hours without a lost workday injury.

UMCDF was one of three finalists for the honor after being named the PMI Project of the Year for the Pacific Northwest Region in February. The awards ceremony last weekend was held at the start of the PMI Global Congress 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. PMI is one of the world's largest not-for-profit membership associations for the project management profession, with more than 650,000 members in more than 185 countries.

“High stakes, high complexity and enormous risk made this project a unique challenge where success was non-negotiable,” said Mark A. Langley, president and CEO of PMI. “By leveraging strong project management practices, innovative ways to identify and mitigate risks and top-notch team-building expertise, URS Corporation conquered that challenge and safely completed a critical initiative that had worldwide implications. PMI commends URS and the entire project team for these results. We are honored to name them the 2012 Project of the Year Award winner.”

The PMI recognition follows the announcement last August that UMCDF was Project of the Year for the Federal Services Division of URS, the company that built and operates the UMCDF for the Chemical Materials Activity of the U.S. Army.

Both the PMI and URS awards were based primarily on UMCDF’s performance in 2011, when it recorded the safest year in project history and completed its mission to destroy 220,604 chemical munitions containing 3,720 tons of deadly chemical agent. But URS and PMI judges also considered the impressive turnaround the project culminated last year.

After completing the GB and VX nerve agent campaigns, UMCDF was slowed by a challenging start to the final campaign to destroy ton containers filled with mustard blister agent. It seemed unlikely UMCDF would finish destroying the Umatilla stockpile by the international treaty deadline of April 27, 2012. However, thanks to its dedicated workforce and a couple of project “firsts,” UMCDF ended up finishing a full six months ahead of the treaty deadline.

Early in the year the state gave approval for UMCDF to process at 100 percent of capacity, which had never been reached in the previous campaigns. The project also designed and installed a one-of-a-kind system for processing the rinsate (a mixture of water and mustard agent) created while loosening the ton container “heels” of solid mustard material. That greatly reduced the number of ton containers that had to be processed and cut months off the schedule.

“Our management team did a great job setting the stage for success, and the initiative and work ethic of our entire team was remarkable,” said Project General Manager Steve Warren.

UMCDF has been in Closure Operations for nearly a year. Closure will include demolishing the areas of the plant where chemical agent was stored or processed and meeting all the state’s environmental requirements for turning the land back to potential public use.