Weapons Complex Monitor Vol. 35 No. 09
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Weapons Complex Monitor
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February 29, 2024

Upon further review, DOE re-awards mega-dollar Hanford tank contract to BWXT-led group

By Wayne Barber

After federal litigation, the Department of Energy has again chosen a BWX Technologies-led group as winner of the Integrated Tank Disposition contract, potentially worth $45 billion over a decade.

In a Thursday press release, the DOE Office of Environmental Management announced the selection of Hanford Tank Waste Operations & Closure to oversee closure of underground radioactive waste tanks and eventual operation of the Bechtel-built Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. The joint venture is made up of BWXT, Amentum and Fluor.

The action comes about 10 months after the contract was initially awarded and about eight months after a U.S. Federal Claims Court judge blocked issuance of the contract, saying it was improper because the BWXT-led group failed to stay registered with an online federal procurement system. 

“We’re thrilled that we’ve been awarded this very important contract by the DOE, and look forward to working together with them to advance the critical work being done at Hanford,” a spokesperson for BWXT spokesperson said in a Friday email. DOE has yet to issue a notice to proceed, the spokesperson said. 

A spokesperson for AtkinsRéalis, the lead partner of the losing contractor that fought the award in court, declined comment. 

Losing bidder and lawsuit-bringer Hanford Tank Disposition Alliance, made up of AtkinsRéalis Nuclear Secured, Jacobs and Westinghouse, fought the initial award the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

After ruling it improper, U.S.  Court of Federal Claims Judge Marian Blank Horn told DOE to re-review the award. 

DOE shortly after decided the winning team’s failure to stay registered with the System for Award Management was a fixable error, not a fatal flaw. 

The Atkins-led group then  lodged a protest about DOE’s decision with Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO declined to insert itself into a dispute already before the federal courts.

Provided DOE’s Thursday re-award is not reversed, Hanford Tank Waste Operations & Closure would become responsible for about 56 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste in Hanford’s tanks that are left over from decades of plutonium production for the defense industry.

Editor’s note March 4, 2024, 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The story was updated to show the correct court in which Hanford Tank Disposition Alliance filed suit. 

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