Vit plant’s ‘incredible leader’ dies

Valerie McCain, a Bechtel senior vice president and project director of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, better known as the vit plant, died March 26 after a short illness.

“The entire vit plant team mourns this loss. Val was an inspiration to so many people on project, across the Hanford site and Bechtel, and in the Tri-Cities community,” said Staci West, Bechtel communications manager at the vit plant.

Valerie McCain

McCain joined the vit plant in October 2018. She led a team of 2,250 employees in completing construction for Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste; transitioning to commissioning and ramping up the workforce; and shifting to a 24/7 operational culture.

Her leadership culminated in the highest-ever rating for the project’s performance from the U.S. Department of Energy customer a week prior to her death.

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, called her death a loss for the Central Washington community. “Val was an incredible leader with over 30 years of industry experience across several continents,” he said.

McCain served on boards for the Energy Facility Contractors Group, Tri-City Development Council, the STEM Foundation and Columbia Industries.

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce said her leadership “positively impacted the region in immeasurable ways.”

Donations in McCain’s memory may be made to the 3 Rivers Community Foundation. The fund will establish scholarships and/or be distributed to nonprofits with missions that were important to McCain, according to her family’s wishes. Donations may be made online at

West said McCain’s column for this Hanford special section will be “the last words printed that she approved and are about what we accomplish and what is important for us.”

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