Weapons Complex Monitor Vol. 31 No. 20
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May 15, 2020

BWXT-Led Team Wins Potential $13B Hanford Tank Contract

By Wayne Barber

A team led by BWX Technologies is the winner of the Energy Department’s Tank Closure Contract at the Hanford Site in Washington state.

The DOE’s Office of Environmental Management announced the $13 billion contract award Thursday to Hanford Works Restoration. Along with Lynchburg, Va.-based BWXT, the other members of the team are Texas-based companies Fluor and Intera and Richland, Wash.-based DBD.

Both BWXT and Fluor are well-known commodities in the Energy Department marketplace. Intera, a geoscience and engineering firm, previously performed modeling and risk analysis as a subcontractor to cleanup firm CH2M Plateau Remediation in its demolition of Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant.

DBD, or Different by Design, is an an international engineering and technical advisory firm that assists companies in highly regulated industries, such as nuclear energy, according to its website.

The winning bidder is believed to have overcome at least two other teams, including one consisting of Atkins, Amentum, and Westinghouse. Amentum is the lead partner, with Atkins the minority partner, in incumbent vendor Washington River Protection Solutions. The third team is believed to include Jacobs, an industry source said Thursday.

Jacobs Chairman and CEO Steven Demetriou in February alluded to his company’s interest in the tank contract during a conference call on the company’s 2019 earnings.

The Hanford Works Restoration package was selected as the best value to the government considering key personnel, technical and management approach, past performance, and cost, DOE’s Environmental Management Consolidated Business Center said in the press release.

The Tank Closure Contract requires that meaningful work be done by small businesses.

Washington River Protection Solutions has held the current tank management contract, valued at nearly $7.8 billion, since October 2008. The current option is set to expire Sept. 30, but the deal includes language that allows the government to end the contract earlier to align with a 60-day transition to the new vendor, the Energy Department said in its press release.

Hanford has roughly 56 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste left over from decades of plutonium production. The waste is held in 177 aging underground tanks, many of which have already leaked.

The new contractor is expected to gradually move away from waste management and toward tank closure. The work includes operating tank farms, as well as remediation and closure of single-shell tanks. It is also expected to help Hanford gear up for operation of the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste process in which low-activity waste from the tank farms will be sent directly for vitrification at the Waste Treatment Plant into a glass-like substance. Vitrification for low-activity waste is supposed to begin by the end of 2023.

The vendor is essentially in charge of the waste delivery system to WTP, according to the Energy Department.

The work will be done via task orders issued off the master indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. Firm-fixed-price and/or cost-reimbursement task orders may be issued under the contract.

The solicitation was issued under the end sate contracting model in which a vendor can earn higher fees by allowing the Energy Department greater flexibility to make changes to the work scope. The DOE Office of Environmental Management expects the end state model will significantly reduce risk and hopefully speed closure of the Hanford Site.

BWX Technologies is currently not a lead partner on any mayor remediation project across the DOE nuclear complex. It is a minority partner in the operations contract for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, the decommissioning and demolition contract at the Portsmouth Site in Ohio, and the Savannah River Remediation liquid waste contract in South Carolina, among others.

The tank contract is the third major piece of business awarded at the Hanford Site since December. The Energy Department in that month issued a potential 10-year, $4 billion site services contract to a venture led by Leidos, and a 10-year, $10 billion contract for remediation of the Central Plateau to a team led by Amentum. Losing bidders protested the awards to the Government Accountability Office, which in both cases ruled in favor of the selected contractor.