Purdue University on Friday confirmed it teamed with Bechtel National, Reston, Va., on a bid to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico — a teaming arrangement first reported by Weapons Complex Morning Briefing’s sister publication in February.
The confirmation came Friday from Mitch Daniels, president of Indiana-based Purdue University. Daniels spoke to the local Lafayette Journal and Courier newspaper on the sidelines of a meeting of the institution’s board of trustees.
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) expects to award a new Los Alamos Management and Operations contract this month or next. The agency hosted would-be bidders for one-on-one meetings in Washington the week of March 19. Bidding on the pact — the lab management portion of which is valued at more than $20 billion over 10 years, with options — closed Dec. 11. The winning team could earn $50 million in annual lab-management fees.
Bechtel is the lead industry partner on incumbent lab manager Los Alamos National Security, which is losing its lab prime contract after a series of nuclear safety lapses. The current management pact expires Sept. 30.
Los Alamos National Security also includes the University of California — which ran Los Alamos solo for most of the lab’s 70-plus-year history — plus industry teammates AECOM and BWX Technologies.
University of California has confirmed it bid on the follow-on contract, as has rival University of Texas. Neither institution has identified its teammates. Texas A&M University has also said it wants a role on the next lab-management team, as has BWX Technologies. AECOM is not bidding, according to a source.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is the oldest, active nuclear-weapons lab in the Department of Energy complex. The lab annual budget has been $250 million for the past several years, but would increase to nearly $330 million a year, if Congress approves the White House’s 2019 budget request. Los Alamos does design work for nuclear warheads and is preparing to produce fissile plutonium pits — warhead cores — for those weapons by the middle of the next decade.
NNSA used to handle Los Alamos’ legacy nuclear-waste-cleanup mission, but that responsibility passed to the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management office after a barrel of transuranic waste improperly packaged by Los Alamos National Security leaked radiation into the agency’s deep-underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M. in 2014. The new Environmental Management contractor is slated to take over the lab’s cleanup work later this month.