Hanford contractor investigating source of tank vapors

Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) managers met with employees Thursday in multiple briefings across the project to discuss recent actions aimed at identifying and mitigating potential sources of vapors at the Hanford tank farms, according to a release issued today by WRPS spokesman Rob Roxburgh.

WRPS went on to explain the release that investigations in several tank farms have identified potential sources of vapor emissions.

In one farm, field investigations identified a cut in the insulation surrounding a pump pit as one potential source of vapor emissions. The cut was sealed with foam and the area was re-evaluated. Instruments no longer detect elevated levels of potential vapor-causing compounds in the local area.

In another tank farm, investigations identified liquid in old, unused equipment that had been staged for disposal as a potential source of emissions. It has been cordoned off as a Vapor Control Zone. The liquid is being sampled and analyzed.

Evaluations in a third farm where vapors-related symptoms were experienced found no detectable measurement of vapors-causing compounds.

Investigations are ongoing to identify other potential sources of vapors in the tank farms.

Employees are encouraged to use additional protective gear—including respiratory devices—when the potential for chemical vapors exists.

In addition to these more recent activities, a joint management/employee Industrial Hygiene Technical Panel meets regularly to monitor efforts and help solve chemical vapor issues and concerns. Together, the team works to identify potential hazards and develop needed controls.

These efforts have allowed WRPS to keep tank farm worker exposure to chemical vapors far below occupational limits. While the risk cannot be completely eliminated, WRPS continues to look at ways the risk to employees can be reduced.

This afternoon, an additional worker was sent to the site medical provider for vapor-related medical evaluation.  That worker has seend be released for return to work late this afternoon.