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Audit Report: IG-0894

September 30, 2013

Department of Energy Quality Assurance:  Design Control for the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at the Hanford Site

The Department is constructing the $12.2 billion Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) to vitrify approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemically hazardous waste stored at the Hanford Site.  To ensure the vitrification process is safe for workers, the public and the environment, the Department required the contractor for the WTP, Bechtel National Inc. (Bechtel), to develop and follow a quality assurance program based on the American Society of Mechanical Engineer's Quality Assurance Requirements for Nuclear Facility Applications (NQA-1) Standard. 

The Office of Inspector General received an allegation that Bechtel was missing design control documentation for the WTP and as such, could not demonstrate that equipment was appropriately manufactured. 

We substantiated the allegation.  Our review revealed significant shortcomings in the Department’s process for managing the design and fabrication changes of waste processing equipment procured for the WTP.  The Department had not ensured that Bechtel subjected design changes requested by suppliers to the required review and approval by Bechtel's Environmental & Nuclear Safety Group.  Further, the Department had not ensured that Bechtel properly verified that deviations from design requirements that could affect nuclear safety were implemented.  Management concurred with our recommendations and provided corrective actions taken and planned to address specific weaknesses identified in our report.  We consider management's comments and planned corrective actions responsive to our findings and recommendations. 

Topic:  Management & Administration