Excalibur Associates, Inc.
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U.S. Department of Energy

National Nuclear Security Administration
Industrial Hygiene & Occupational Safety Support Services

The end of the Cold War left a legacy of surplus weapons-usable fissile materials both in the United States and the former Soviet Union, leaving substantial quantities of plutonium no longer needed for defense purposes. These global stockpiles of weapons-usable fissile materials pose a danger to national and international security in the form of potential proliferation of nuclear weapons and the potential for environmental, safety, and health consequences if the materials are not properly safeguarded and managed.

Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory tasked Excalibur to conduct worker health and safety design reviews of a proposed nuclear facility capable of handling significant quantities of hazardous and radioactive materials. Using DOE Order 440.1A, Worker Protection Management for DOE Federal and Contractor Employees, as the framework for reducing or preventing injuries, illnesses, and accidental losses, we identified potential workplace chemical, physical, or ergonomic hazards and evaluated the risk of associated worker injury or illness. Our analysis included facility design, operations and procedures, and equipment. We recommended hazard controls to address work practices, engineering controls, administrative controls to limit worker exposures, and personal protective equipment. Our efforts succeeded in identifying, evaluating and ensuring the implementation of safety & health related changes to the facility design.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program

There are more than 65 commercial nuclear power plant (sites) and surrounding Emergency Planning Zones (EPZ) that extend out as far as 50 miles from each site, and includes nearly half the population of the United States. On December 7, 1979, following the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, President Carter transferred the federal lead role for offsite radiological emergency planning and preparedness activities from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA established the Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program to (1) ensure the health and safety of citizens living around commercial nuclear power plants would be adequately protected in the event of a nuclear power plant accident and (2) inform and educate the public about radiological emergency preparedness. FEMA evaluates radiological emergency planning exercises conducted by state and local governments to determine whether their plans can be effectively implemented. These exercises are designed to test the capability of local response organizations to protect public health and safety through the implementation of their plans under simulated radiological emergency conditions.

Excalibur's health physicists, emergency managers, and radiological safety and fire services professionals participated in more than 30 radiological emergency preparedness exercises. These exercises evaluated whether emergency planning and preparedness at a given site was adequate to protect the health and safety of the public living in the vicinity of the nuclear power facility by providing reasonable assurance that appropriate protective measures can be taken offsite in the event of a radiological emergency.

DOE Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC
Recovery Activities/Safety Management Program Improvements

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is a deep geologic repository for permanent disposal of a specific type of waste that is the byproduct of the nation's nuclear defense program. WIPP is the nation's only repository for the disposal of nuclear waste known as transuranic, or TRU, waste.

Two isolated events took place at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in February 2014. On February 5, a salt haul truck caught fire. Workers were evacuated, and the underground portion of WIPP was shut down. Six workers were treated for smoke inhalation. Nine days later, late in the evening of February 14, a second, unrelated event occurred when a continuous air monitor (CAM) alarmed during the night shift. The next day, an aboveground exhaust air monitor on the WIPP site detected very low levels of airborne radioactive contamination. The 140 employees at the site were kept indoors as a precaution, and non-essential personnel were later released via surveyed routes. Efforts to determine the source of the contamination were considered critical work to support recovery plans and program improvements.

In support of Recovery Activities/Safety Management Program Improvements, Excalibur provided an experienced Hazards Analyst to develop a comprehensive technical planning program to include development and maintenance of emergency action levels, emergency planning hazards survey, and emergency planning hazards assessment for hazards that could threaten the health and safety of workers or the public if released to the environment.

The specific planning and response measures for each hazard were tailored to the identified hazard and commensurate with (in size, scope, or scale) the magnitude of the hazard and its potential impacts. We undertook a qualitative examination of the events or conditions specific to the WIPP site that may require an emergency response to determine the planning and preparedness requirements that apply. We performed a site-specific emergency planning hazards assessment where identified hazardous materials were present in quantities exceeding the quantity that can be "easily and safely manipulated by one person" and whose potential release would cause the impacts and require response activities. This quantitative analysis included the identification and characterization of hazardous materials specific to WIPP, analyses of potential accidents or events, and evaluation of potential consequences. We then evaluated potential consequences of the hazardous material release scenarios developed to determine the areas potentially affected, the need for personnel protective actions, and the time available to take those actions using models and calculational methods that were most appropriate to the material released and to the physical characteristics of the WIPP site and its atmospheric dispersion conditions and hydrologic dispersion conditions.

The objective of this work effort was to determine the combinations of events and conditions that could cause releases of each characterized hazardous material and the magnitudes of those possible releases. This analysis was incorporated into planning for a rapid, coordinated, emergency response on the part of the facility, collocated facilities, and surrounding jurisdictions to protect workers, the public, and the environment.