Assessment Team (TVAT)
In 2014, WRPS established an independent Tank Vapor Assessment Team (TVAT) led by the Savannah River National Laboratory to examine hazardous chemical vapors management, related worker protection measures, and recommend actions to eliminate or mitigate vapor exposure levels. The TVAT consisted of a panel of nationally recognized experts in the fields of occupational and environmental health, environmental engineering and science, toxicology, health physics, and industrial hygiene. The TVAT conducted the assessment along lines of inquiry in six Technical Assessment Areas: Site Characterization, Exposure Assessment, Dose-Response Assessment, Risk Characterization, Risk Management, and Risk Communication.
The TVAT assessment culminated in 10 overarching recommendations with 47 specific recommendations to: enhance worker protection; bolster the IH Program; and, improve communications. The recommendations were detailed in the Tank Vapor Assessment Report (TVAR). The WRPS Implementation Plan (IP) in response to the TVAR detailed a phased approach to address each of the 47 recommendations in the TVAR within the context of ISMS principles. Phase 1 of the IP focused on: enhancing the baseline identification of hazards through enhanced characterization (headspace characterization, rounds & routines); better control strategies (active ventilation enhancements in AP Tank Farm and A/AX Tank Farms); performing research & development of new vapor detection technologies; enhanced training; developing parity between the IH Program and the RadCon program; enhancing communications with stakeholders; and a series of studies which enhance and provide the necessary data to enhance and institutionalize a continuously improving vapor hazard management technical basis. Additional information can be found in the Hanford Tank Farm Occupational Exposure and Risk Assessment Plan, PNNL-25791.
TVAT recommendation #35 states, “confirm that air-purifying respiratory protective equipment is effective in reducing exposure to tank vapors below acceptable levels.” The use of supplied-air inside the farms has been made mandatory for workers until two conditions have been met:
1. Cartridge testing is completed and documented results have been satisfactorily demonstrated to provide worker protection from tank vapor emissions.
2. A third-party qualified independent entity, selected by HAMTC, reviews the testing methodology/protocols and results of the cartridge testing data and concurs with the results.
With completion of the above conditions, conducted on a farm-by-farm basis, those respiratory cartridges that were proven effective in protecting against tank vapors and gases will be available to workers for use inside the farm.
The results of the first phase of TVAT implementation plan will provide the necessary data to develop the process and criteria by which to implement and institutionalize the key facets of ISMS principles to address vapor hazards:
(1) Analyze the hazards; (2) Develop and Implement Hazard Controls; (3) Feedback and Improvement.
TVAT IP Phase 2
Based on the data collected during Phase 1 of the TVAT Implementation Plan, WRPS will determine what additional actions are needed to be implemented in Phase 2 to institutionalize improvements to its Industrial Hygiene Program. WRPS will make further improvements in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 as needed in vapor detection and monitoring; engineered vapor controls and technologies; research and development, and industrial hygiene program standards and requirements.
The results of the cartridge testing and the pilot-scale technology testing programs will be used to re-evaluate changes in protective equipment for workers and for detection and monitoring activities in the tank farms.