A federal judge has given former Hanford Site contractor Washington Closure Hanford and the Department of Justice a three-week extension to finalize a settlement agreement in a civil lawsuit over alleged subcontracting fraud. Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. on Monday set a deadline for April 13. If the deadline is not met, a status conference will be held April 20 in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington, he said.
Mendoza granted a 45-day stay of the court schedule on Jan. 9 after the parties said they had reached a settlement agreement in principle but needed to work out details. He then granted two 14-day extensions prior to the latest extension.
The Department of Justice said Washington Closure, the former River Corridor cleanup contractor at Hanford, needs to resolve unspecified issues related to closing out its contract with the Department of Energy in order to finalize an agreement and resolve the lawsuit. Washington Closure’s contract expired in September 2016 with most cleanup along the Columbia River at Hanford completed.
“The United States remains ready to execute the settlement agreement or move forward with litigation,” the Department of Justice said in court documents. Washington Closure requested the 21-day extension to the stay of court deadlines on Friday, and federal attorneys did not oppose it.
The Department of Justice accused Washington Closure of awarding small business subcontracts to front companies. Its DOE prime contract included small business subcontracting requirements. Washington Closure has said it did not knowingly claim false credit under its contract for awards to small, woman-owned businesses the Department of Justice alleged were actually fronts or pass-through organizations for Federal Engineers & Constructors (FE&C) of Richland, Wash.
Two other defendants in the lawsuit have settled since late summer. Both adamantly denied wrongdoing, but said they wanted out of the expensive and complicated litigation. Sage Tec, a small, woman-owned business, settled for $235,000. FE&C, which teamed with Sage Tec on two subcontracts, settled for $2 million.