A major environmental management contract at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico is scheduled to expire Saturday, but don’t be surprised if the incumbent cleanup provider receives an extension to wind up an ongoing project.
Los Alamos National Security (LANS), the laboratory’s management and operations prime, is at the tail end of a two-year “bridge” contract for legacy nuclear cleanup worth nearly $310 million. LANS has performed the work since 2006, but appears unlikely to win the next contract after a 2014 radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M., was linked to a drum of improperly packaged radioactive waste from Los Alamos.
However, the contractor – a partnership of Bechtel National, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and the University of California – could stay on for an interim period as it completes processing of dozens of additional containers of waste, some of which contain the combustible mix of nitrate salts and organic kitty litter. Workers are adding an inert substance to the drums’ mixture of to prevent another radiation incident.
LANS had originally hoped to finish before the Sept. 30 contract expiration date. But this summer it told DOE it expected to finish all work by April 2018. An industry official said Monday he believed DOE would want some closure on the nitrate waste before turning operations over to a new contractor team.
No updated information on Los Alamos had been posted on the DOE contract website by Monday afternoon.
The Energy Department had earlier projected the contract would be awarded by last month. In late August, LANL Director Charles McMillan told a meeting of the Los Alamos County Council that naming a new contractor was taking longer than expected. Sources have said the new contract could be awarded in October,
Energy Department contractors Fluor and CH2M are believed to be among the bidders for the new contract, which could run for up to 10 years.