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EM Update | Vol. 11, Issue 42 | Oct. 29, 2019


Paducah Site Engineer Turns Challenges into Opportunities

April Ladd discusses the status of work activities at the EM Paducah Site C-400 Deactivation Project with Tom Peeler, a deactivation maintenance mechanic with Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, the Paducah Site’s deactivation and remediation contractor. 

PADUCAH, Ky.EM Paducah Site General Engineer April Ladd overcomes challenges.

From the time she was young, Ladd knew she wanted to be an engineer, and nothing got in the way of her working toward that dream. In college, she balanced the pursuit of her career goals with family responsibilities. While her journey proved challenging at times, Ladd persisted until she earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Kentucky in 2004.

“Throughout life, there have been many obstacles that have tried to derail me or make it difficult for me to succeed,” she says. “Success isn’t measured by what you achieve; it’s measured by the obstacles you overcome.”

Ladd’s determination and drive to excel have equipped her to serve as the federal project director overseeing the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office’s deactivation and pre-demolition of the C-400 Cleaning Building and the city block surrounding the building at the Paducah Site.

Built in 1952, the C-400 Building was once the primary facility for cleaning and decontaminating parts and equipment used in uranium enrichment. It is also the source of groundwater contamination resulting from degreasing of parts and equipment using trichloroethylene.

Previous roles working for DOE contractors and in private industry enriching uranium helped prepare Ladd for her current work. Ladd’s leadership enabled EM’s safe removal of hazards and successful stabilization of the C-400 Building, a significant achievement that supports the reduction of groundwater contamination. Ladd is also responsible for managing and ultimately dispositioning more than 8.5 million pounds of R-114, the largest stockpile of the refrigerant in the U.S.

“I am proud to have diverse work experience that has enabled me to navigate and solve problems that very often don’t come with easy answers,” Ladd says. “To other women aspiring to go into engineering, I say go for it and be fearless. Work hard and ask questions. Surround yourself with people, role models, and mentors who encourage your intellectual curiosity. The best way to do great work is to love what you do.”

-Contributors: Dylan Nichols, Jessica Vasseur

Editor's note: In an occasional series, EM Update profiles early career professionals across the EM complex.

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Nuclear Advocacy Group Honors SRS Contractor With Inaugural Award

AIKEN, S.C. – J. Scott Kirk, an employee at the Savannah River Site (SRS), recently earned the first-ever Nuclear Service Award from a nuclear advocacy group for his achievements advancing technology in the field.

Kirk, the environmental compliance manager at Savannah River Remediation, EM’s liquid waste contractor at SRS, received the award from Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA), a non-profit organization that educates residents in the Central Savannah River Area about nuclear technology and energy.

Kirk’s work has spanned from licensing nuclear facilities that provide fuel for the U.S. Navy, to supporting DOE non-proliferation programs, to providing solutions to many of the complex waste management problems that have faced the industry.


Savannah River Remediation Environmental Compliance Manager J. Scott Kirk recently won the inaugural Nuclear Service Award from Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness.

CNTA Executive Director Jim Marra said Kirk has for years been thoroughly engaged in seeking innovative solutions to some of the most significant radioactive waste management challenges.

“Scott’s vast list of accomplishments have demonstrated a great passion of the use of nuclear technology across a broad sector of the industry for over 30 years,” Marra said. “His innovative approaches to solving complex issues facing the nuclear industry have been impressive. We are delighted that he is the recipient of the program’s inaugural Nuclear Service Award.”

In his SRR role, Kirk is responsible for environmental permitting and regulatory interfaces. He also manages waste characterization operations required to disposition low-level radioactive waste, transuranic waste, hazardous waste, and mixed radioactive waste generated at the Defense Waste Processing Facility, Saltstone Production Facility, and high-level waste tank farms, all at SRS.

The award recognizes accomplishments in applying nuclear technology, advancing education in nuclear technology, and promoting and defending the safe and effective use of it.

-Contributor: Colleen Hart

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WIPP Underground Tours Draw 350 Employees and Family Members


CARLSBAD, N.M. – A rare glimpse into the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository was the highlight of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s (WIPP) two Family Day events in September and October. For the first time since WIPP began operating as a disposal facility more than two decades ago, families of WIPP employees could take a 75-person-capacity waste hoist 2,150 feet underground to tour a limited area, collect salt samples, and check displays explaining mining, bolting, and the emplacement of transuranic waste. More than 350 employees and their family members viewed WIPP’s latest technology, an all-electric load haul dump truck that creates no hazardous emissions. It’s the first in a group of machines to cut emissions in the underground, making working conditions safer. Family tours included the contact-handled waste bay, fire station, and WIPP’s waste transportation trucks. At top, Gene Balsmeier, chief operating officer and deputy project manager of Nuclear Waste Partnership, WIPP’s management and operations contractor, addresses a group of employees and family members in the WIPP underground. Immediately above, a youngster tries on bunker gear in the WIPP Fire Station.

-Contributor: Roy Neese

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SRS Contractors Continue to Earn Industry Safety Recognition


Savannah River Site radiation protection employees don protective equipment while working in a glovebox. Gloveboxes are structures with ports containing gloves that allow waste handlers to safely work with radioactive material.

AIKEN, S.C. – Two EM contractors at Savannah River Site (SRS) continue to earn local, regional, and national recognition for their safety performance in 2018 and 2019, and together have accumulated 58 million safe hours.

The recognitions for Savannah River Remediation (SRR) and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) include the Occupational Excellence Achievement Award and Industry Leader Award from the National Safety Council (NSC); Palmetto Shining Star from the South Carolina Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation; and the Commendation of Safety Excellence from the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, SRNS received the NSC 25 Million Safe Hour Award for surpassing 25 million safe work hours without a lost day due to an on-the-job injury.

The SRS contractors earned the NSC’s Occupational Excellence Achievement and Industry Leader awards for ranking in the top 5 percent of the NSC members that have qualified for the 2019 Occupational Excellence Achievement Award. Winners are selected based on employee safe work hours, among other factors.

SRR, EM’s liquid waste contractor, also earned the 2019 Innovation Award from the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA) for efforts to protect workers from mercury vapors. In 2018, SRR’s industrial hygiene team installed air sampling units capable of sampling and monitoring mercury levels as part of a pilot project.

In 2019, the SRR construction workforce surpassed 31 million hours without an injury that caused an employee to miss a day from work. The SRR operations workforce has worked more than 4 million hours without such an injury.

Similarly, SRNS amassed more than 27 million safe work hours in 2019, accounting for 834 days, marking a new company milestone for safety performance since becoming the SRS management and operations contractor in 2008.

“SRS employees are the key to our great safety performance. Safety is a matter of personal accountability and a commitment to an injury-free workplace,” said Rick Sprague, SRNS senior vice president, environmental stewardship, safety, and health.

SRNS was also presented a Distinction Award by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts for its annual safety culture and engagement video production titled, “Safety and Security Begin with Me. At Work. At Home. In the Community.” That award is presented to projects that exceed industry standards in quality and achievement, receiving more than 6,000 nominations annually from across the U.S. and around the world.

“These awards are the tangible evidence of a team that values safety as the key part of every operation and works together, in their own organizations and across company lines, to achieve safety excellence at SRS,” said Patricia Allen, SRR director for environmental, safety, and health, quality assurance, and contractor assurance director. “The true reward for working safely today is being able to come back safely tomorrow. It is also a great honor to earn awards from state and national entities acknowledging the hard work SRS employees put into keeping each other safe every day.”

-Contributors: Angie Benfield, Colleen Hart

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