Morning Briefing - September 25, 2018
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September 25, 2018

Energy Dept. Official Expects ‘Significant’ Delay in SRS Salt Waste Plant

By ExchangeMonitor

Parsons could end up sacrificing a significant amount of its fee for delays in startup of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at the Energy Department’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, a DOE official said Monday.

Parsons was expected Monday to submit a new cost and schedule update for the facility, SWPF Federal Project Director Pam Marks told the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board in Columbia, S.C. It was unknown at press time if the new proposal had yet been submitted.

While she declined to discuss a specific date, Marks said “this time next year” would be a good estimate for the SWPF to be ready for operation. The delay beyond the target date of Dec. 31, 2018, will be “significant,” she said.

Parsons and DOE have characterized the end of 2018 as a stretch target, and Marks said Monday she still expects the plant to be operating in advance of the hard deadline of Jan. 31, 2021.

Parsons Senior Vice President and SWPF project manager Frank Sheppard Jr. said earlier this month his company will start operating the facility in 2019. Speaking at the ExchangeMonitor’s RadWaste Summit, Sheppard said the key maintenance issue, replacement of 460 problem valve controller devices, is nearing completion.

“There is no one who is more disappointed than me about this valve issue,” Marks told the advisory board. The final replacement of the valve devices should be complete within a month, she said.

The SPWF is expected to cost $2.3 billion to build under current projections. In response to board questions, Marks said she expects Parsons will sustain a significant fee loss due to the valve issue, which is a primary cause for the delay.

The Salt Waste Processing Facility is designed to process more than 6 million gallons per year of radioactive waste now stored in tanks at Savannah River. Completion of startup had initially been anticipated in late 2015. Construction was completed in mid-2016.

Parsons will operate the plant for its first year, after which the facility will be integrated into the SRS liquid waste contract now held by Savannah River Remediation. The next contractor could be known in a matter of days, after the Government Accountability Office in February upheld a protest against the first award to a team led by BWX Technologies.