Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor Vol. 26 No. 16
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Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor
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April 21, 2022

DOE cans proposed extension for incumbent Savannah River prime; issued in error, DOE says

By Wayne Barber

DOE cans proposed extension for incumbent Savannah River prime; issued in error, DOE says

The Department of Energy has withdrawn the federal procurement notice from Monday announcing a planned multi-year extension for the prime at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, saying it was “done in error.”

The DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) “are jointly developing contract plans related to the future of the Savannah River Site that have not been finalized or fully approved,” a DOE spokesperson said in a Thursday email. “Information that was posted to Sam.Gov on Monday was done so in error and has been removed.”

No further explanation was given. “That’s embarrassing: That’s a big deal,” one industry source said Friday morning of the withdrawal. 

The notice said DOE planned  to keep Fluor-led Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) as management and operations contractor of the Savannah River Site in South Carolina for up to five more years. In the note, the agency said it intended to keep SRNS on for four more years, or maybe five, with a one-year option that could have kept the incumbent around through Sept. 30, 2027.

SRNS, led by Fluor with Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell International, has managed the site near South Carolina’s border with Georgia since August 2008 under a contract currently valued at $16.7-billion and slated to expire at the end of September.

“They just jumped the gun,” is likely what happened, said a second industry source. The contract people probably got too far out ahead of the DOE brass on this.

Finally, “this is all connected to the pit work” and NNSA plans for a new plutonium pit production facility at Savannah River, the second source said.

A third industry source also agreed the notice-and-withdrawal was likely an “administrative snafu: Someone hit the send button before they had all the signatures.” The source said extending the Savannah River incumbent at least through the end of fiscal 2023 would be a “smart, low-risk decision.”

A request for proposals for a new management contract was shelved by DOE in November. Environmental Management officials have publicly spoken about the possibility of one day transferring their landlord role to NNSA as the environmental cleanup role at Savannah River winds down by the early 2030s.

At the Waste Management Symposia in Phoenix last month, EM officials said they were in discussions on an extension for SRNS at Savannah River.

The procurement link that DOE posted Monday is no longer available online. The notice of intent posted Monday had suggested keeping SRNS around would be best for ensuring continuity. “To DOE’s knowledge, only SRNS has the requisite knowledge, experience and capability to provide these critical, highly specialized services without interruption during the acquisition cycle for transition to a new contract,” DOE said in the notice. “Essentially, SRNS is the only company qualified to show a new contractor the current operational parameters during the acquisition cycle for a new contract.”

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