Morning Briefing - April 17, 2019
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April 17, 2019

Triad to Seek Bids for Pit-Waste Treatment Plant at LANL

By ExchangeMonitor

The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) expects in October to solicit bids for design and construction of a facility to treat liquid transuranic waste generated by future production of fissile nuclear-weapon cores, called plutonium pits, according to a Monday procurement note.

Triad National Security, which since November has managed the New Mexico facility for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), plans to start building the Transuranic Liquid Waste Project in October 2020, Monday’s sources-sought note reads.

Companies interested either in design, designing and building, or just building the facility must respond to the sources sought notice by April 29, Triad said. The NNSA wants Los Alamos to start making war-ready pits for future intercontinental ballistic-missile W87-1 warheads in 2024.

Triad said it needs a contractor to modify a now-outdated Transuranic Liquid Waste Project design whipped up for previous lab contractor Los Alamos National Security. The design has gathered dust since 2017, when the NNSA paused the project to fix design problems discovered with several planned waste-treatment systems needed for future pit-making. The agency had previously estimated the project would process just over 7,500 gallons of waste annually.

The Donald Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review called on the agency to make 80 war-ready pits per year by 2030. The NNSA has decided to make 30 a year at Los Alamos and the other 50 at a planned facility at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C.

Los Alamos will start making pits at a rate of 10 per year at its expanded Plutonium Facility in 2024, according to current plans. The lab plans to step that up to 30 annually by 2026.

In its 2020 budget request, the NNSA listed the total project cost for the Transuranic Liquid Waste Project at about $145 million. The agency seeks $1 million for the project for 2020, which is half of what Congress provided for 2019. The 2020 and 2019 funding covers non-construction costs, including design and adminsitration expenses, according to the budget request.

In its 2018 budget request, the last in which the agency included a construction project data sheet for the facility, the NNSA forecast it would finish construction by Sept. 30, 2023.