Weapons Complex Monitor Vol. 27 No. 7
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Article 10 of 12
February 12, 2016

At Portsmouth and Paducah

By ExchangeMonitor

Fluor Gets 73.6 Percent of Possible Award Fee for 2015 at Portsmouth

Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth earned a $10.5 million award fee in fiscal 2015 for cleanup work at the former Portsmouth uranium enrichment facility near Piketon, Ohio, good for 73.6 percent of the total available, DOE said Thursday.

In the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Fluor-BWXT “continued to excel and exceed contract requirements in the safe shipping of large amounts of newly generated and legacy waste for the project,” much of which is shipped to the Nevada National Security Site disposal facility by federal drivers, according to DOE’s award fee scorecard.

In December, however, DOE’s Office of Enterprise Assessments said shipments were not always timely.

Meanwhile, Fluor-BWXT also made progress toward building an on-site waste facility at Portsmouth and awarded a subcontract in the quarter to begin site preparation work in what is known in DOE engineering parlance as critical decision 3A; critical decision 4 is the milestone that precedes construction.

Fluor-BWXT lost out on some available award money because it underperformed in the environmental safety, health, and quality area, for which DOE gave the company an adjectival rating of “satisfactory” for fiscal 2015.

The Enterprise Assessments report from December noted Fluor-BWXT failed to ensure all low-level radioactive waste intended to be disposed of at Portsmouth was dealt with in an expedited fashion or kept in “appropriate facilities protected from the elements,” in line with DOE rules.

Fluor-BWXT also took a ding for only partially meeting a milestone to “Cut, Cap, and Remove Process Gas Equipment from X-326,” a former uranium enrichment plant at Portsmouth.

Meanwhile at the Paducah site, another former DOE uranium enrichment facility in southwestern Kentucky, Fluor netted $4.2 million of a possible $6 million or so available from July 2014 to July 2015.

During that time, Fluor Federal Services took over Paducah remediation work from LATA.  Fluor had a tough time with the transition and “struggled to provide timely deliverables that complied with the terms of the Task Order” to clean up irradiated soil and groundwater at the site, according to DOE.

As a result, the company replaced “some key personnel” at the site.

DOE also dinged its contractor for unspecified “safety-related events,” and for missing “a major milestone for submittal of contractor performance baselines.”

 

Portman Decries Lack of Funding for American Centrifuge Plant

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) dinged the White House on Tuesday for sticking to its guns about defunding the American Centrifuge Plant near the former uranium enrichment facility at the Energy Department’s Portsmouth Site.

DOE announced in September it would pull the plug on the advanced centrifuge facility at Portsmouth, and plant operator Centrus Energy, of Bethesda, Md., has been paying out of its own pocket since October to keep the facility online.

The department had the option, under the 2016 omnibus spending signed in December, to divert $50 million from other programs to the centrifuge project this year. The agency opted not to, and instead concentrated domestic uranium enrichment research led by Centrus at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

In a Tuesday press release, Portman said he was “disappointed that the Administration has not provided any resources for the American Centrifuge Plant,” which the junior Ohio senator said is “critical for our national and energy security.”

If the plant closes down, Centrus will lay off up to 70 people. A final decision on the layoffs is expected later this month or in early March.

Elsewhere at Portsmouth, legacy cleanup work handled by Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth and overseen by DOE’s Office of Environmental Management would get an 11 percent bump, up to about $322 million, in fiscal 2017.

Within that total, the White House proposed increasing the Portsmouth cleanup budget by about $11 million to nearly $215 million, about 5 percent over 2016 levels. Funding for the 15-U-408 on-site waste disposal facility would nearly double from 2016 levels to about $42 million.

It remains to be seen whether Congress will approve these elevated levels of funding, as it would require lawmakers to go along with a proposal in the White House’s latest budget request to pay for uranium cleanup by tapping into the moribund United States Enrichment Corp. Fund. Congress would have to pass a law authorizing DOE to spend any of the $1.6 billion fund for that purpose. The agency wants to make a $674 million withdrawal for several projects in fiscal 2017, which begins on Oct. 1.

 

DOE Saves $500K at Paducah Cleanup Project 

The Energy Department said Friday it saved close to $500,000 by using a lubricant it already owned to clean a polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated oil once used in transformers that helped power the now-shuttered Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky.

DOE did not say how much the cleanup cost in total.

“In compliance with the Toxic Substance Control Act, the Fluor Paducah Deactivation Project initiated removal of PCB oil from the transformers in early summer 2015” DOE said in a press release. “To ensure all PCB oil has been removed from the transformers, Environmental Protection Agency regulations required that the transformers be rinsed. Rather than purchasing a rinsing agent, such as kerosene, DOE and its contractors developed a unique idea to rinse the transformers with lube oil already at PGDP that also was scheduled for disposal. This idea saved nearly a half-million dollars, while enabling an existing product to be reused before its ultimate disposal.”

The department by the end of 2015 moved about 100,000 gallons of transformer oil and 113,000 gallons of PCBs safely off-site, ahead of schedule.

The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant once refined uranium for the Pentagon’s weapons and, later, for commercial power plants. Fluor Federal Services Inc. Paducah Deactivation Project is the prime on the cleanup under a three-year, $420 million contract that phased in back in July.

 

Portsmouth Again Opening for Public Tours

The Energy Department said Friday it would for a fifth year open the onetime Portsmouth uranium enrichment facility in Ohio up for public tours.

Those interested in touring the facility this year should contact Sandy Childers either by phone at (740) 897-2336 or by email at sandy.childers@fbports.com. Messages should include a name and a daytime phone number, DOE said. The deadline to register for the first tour is March 4. They are offered free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis.

According to DOE, available tour dates are:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016

Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016

The roughly Portsmouth site, located about 100 miles south of Columbus, Ohio, from the early 1950s produced highly enriched uranium for the Pentagon and low-enriched uranium for commercial reactors. Fluor-B&W Portsmouth of Piketon is DOE’s prime contractor on the cleanup under a contract awarded in 2010 and potentially worth about $2 billion over 10 years.