RICHLAND – Washington River Protection Solutions, the Hanford tank operations contractor, announced $500,000 in contributions to benefit local higher education programs.
The majority of the funds will support science, technology, engineering and mathematics efforts at WSU Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College. The remaining portion will be used for general scholarships and local small business assistance through student internships. Each institution is receiving $125,000 this year. An additional $125,000 each will be awarded in 2010.
“Quality higher education opportunities, especially in technical fields like science and engineering, are critical to the success of both our company’s environmental cleanup mission and our community’s overall economic health and vitality,” said WRPS Project Manager Chuck Spencer. “Both WSU Tri-Cities and CBC are dealing with substantial cuts in state funding, yet enrollment demand is up. We want to help them maintain their programs as much as possible.”
At WSU Tri-Cities, the initial $125,000 will address a number of needs such as: upgrades of Energy and Environmental Laboratory equipment; junior- and senior-year student research projects in science and engineering; student internships to support local small businesses with a preference toward those in the technology or manufacturing sectors and those located within the Tri-Cities Research District; and general student scholarships.
“This investment in WSU Tri-Cities benefits small businesses and employers — in addition to our students — by providing scholarships, undergraduate research, internships, and teaching laboratory development,” Chancellor Vicky L. Carwein said. “In these times of tightening budgets and a growing demand for education, WRPS is helping economic development on multiple fronts with this gift to our campus.”
The CBC funds are targeted primarily for the community college’s nuclear technology program re-established this past fall to train a new generation of workers in nuclear operations and radiation protection. WRPS has committed to a base level of support for the program for five years through cash support, scholarships and student internships. Additional funding will be provided to allow expansion of the program and provide for some general scholarships as well.
“The support from WRPS has been invaluable. Without the funds we could not have begun the program this fall quarter. The initial donation was used for five full scholarships awarded to students enrolled in the Nuclear Tech program, and the remaining was used to purchase equipment needed to teach the classes,” said Donna Campbell, Vice President for Instruction, CBC.
“We expect our demand for technically trained personnel to grow in the years ahead, and we will continue to work with both WSU Tri-Cities and CBC on ways we can best help meet that need,” Spencer said.
WRPS, owned by URS Corporation and EnergySolutions, with integrated subcontractor AREVA, is a prime contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection and is responsible for reducing the risk posed by the waste stored in Hanford’s aging underground tanks.
WRPS is working to transfer the waste stored in 149 leak-prone single-shell tanks—some of which date back to World War II—to newer, safer double-shell tanks. It is also preparing for delivery of the waste to Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant where it will be converted to a stable glass form for permanent disposition.