Energy Department hires new top Hanford manager

Energy Department hires new top Hanford manager
Hanford "B" Reactor - file photo.
YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Energy named a longtime federal employee Friday to oversee cleanup at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site, one of two jobs left vacant earlier this year with the retirement of the Hanford reservation's top two managers.

Effective immediately, David A. Brockman assumes management of the Richland Operations Office, which oversees cleanup of radioactive waste, demolition of nuclear facilities and closure of nuclear reactors along the Columbia River corridor.

Brockman, 54, replaces Keith Klein, who retired in May.

"We are extremely pleased that a man of Mr. Brockman's experience and capabilities will lead the Richland Operations office," James Rispoli, the Energy Department's assistant secretary of energy for environmental management, said in a statement. "Dave has my full support as he steps into this new and critical role."

The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. Today, the 586-square-mile site is the nation's most contaminated nuclear site, with cleanup costs expected to top $50 billion.

Cleanup operations are divided between the Richland office and the Office of River Protection, charged with ridding 177 underground tanks of radioactive and hazardous waste and building a massive plant to convert the waste to glass logs for permanent disposal.

The top management job in that office remains vacant following Roy Schepens' retirement in February.

Together, the two managers oversee some 10,000 federal and contractor employees.

Brockman has over 36 years of experience as a nuclear project executive in the public and private sectors. He served as a project manager and lead negotiator for a cleanup agreement at the Rocky Flats nuclear site in Colorado, according to the Energy Department.

The $7 billion, decade-long cleanup effort there was declared completed in October 2005.

More recently, Brockman has managed cleanup of Hanford's K Basins, two leak-prone pools designed to hold spent nuclear fuel, since January 2006.

Brockman is a South Kitsap High School graduate. He earned a bachelor's degree in general science from Oregon State University.

Brockman declined comment Friday through an Energy Department spokeswoman until he has had an opportunity to speak with employees.