Weapons Complex Monitor Vol. 35 No. 10
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Weapons Complex Monitor
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March 08, 2024

Hanford tanks would make BWXT-led groups environmental primes at Hanford, SRS

By Wayne Barber

The Department of Energy’s decision to re-award a potential $45-billion contract for liquid radioactive waste management at the Hanford Site in Washington state to a BWX Technologies-led group could put the company at the helm of two major nuclear-weapons cleanups.

DOE announced March 1 the re-award of the Integrated Tank Disposition contract to Hanford Tank Waste Operations & Closure, a team of BWXT, Amentum and Fluor. As of Friday, the award remained uncontested.

DOE reissued the new award after agency staff decided last year that the BWXT group’s failure to stay continuously registered in the System for Award Management could be corrected without redoing the entire competition or awarding the bid to an Atkins-led competitor.

The Government Accountability Office in December declined to dispute DOE’s position, given that the matter had already gone to the federal courts. 

That chain of events followed a June decision in the Court of Federal Claims to block DOE’s first award over the winner’s lapsed registration and send the matter back to DOE for reconsideration. 

The litigation, which is no longer pending, was brought by losing bidder Hanford Tank Disposition Alliance, a joint venture of AtkinsRéalis Nuclear Secured, Jacobs and Westinghouse. 

The trio of BWXT, Amentum and Fluor already controls the $21-billion Savannah River Mission Completion contract to manage tank waste at DOE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The BWXT-led Hanford team first won the contract in April 2023 to manage about 56 million gallons of radioactive waste left over from decades of plutonium production and stored in underground tanks. The contract also calls for eventual operation of the Bechtel-built Waste Immobilization Treatment Plant, which would turn tank waste into glasslike cylinders. 

After the losing bidder in the original competition sued, a U.S. Claims Court judge blocked the contract award in June 2023, citing the winner’s failure to stay continuously registered with the federal government’s online procurement tracking service. 

The suit over the old award was formally terminated in Federal Claims Court in 2023, but Judge Marian Blank Horn has continued to receive monthly status reports from the parties on the DOE dispute, with the most recent one filed Feb. 28. 

While Lynchburg, Va.,-based BWXT is part of many teams around the weapons complex, it is only the lead partner at Savannah River and now Hanford, providing it holds up.

According to BWXT’s latest form 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it is a minority partner in DOE contracts at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the Paducah Site in Kentucky, the Portsmouth Site in Ohio and the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York state.

BWXT’s Nuclear Fuel Services company makes fuel for U.S. Navy nuclear reactors.

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