Morning Briefing - March 26, 2020
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March 26, 2020

West Valley Shifts to Mission-Critical Work Due to Pandemic

By ExchangeMonitor

CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley in New York state is, like other nuclear remediation vendors for the Energy Department, decreasing its work to “mission-essential” tasks for the near future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daily on-site staffing at the West Valley Demonstration Project was decreased effective Monday, and many employees will “telework to the extent practicable,” a contractor spokesman said by email Wednesday. The company statement did not cite the number of affected employees.

“This action is being taken in consideration of the United States’ and New York State’s recommendation to further protect the health and safety of employees, subcontractors and vendors from the spread of the virus,” the spokesman said. New York state has more than 285 deaths and 30,000 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, according to NBC.

Operations that continue at West Valley will be prioritized “based on safety, regulatory requirements and protection of the environment, the public and our workforce,” according to the spokesman for the Jacobs-led contractor.

The West Valley Demonstration Project is located about 200 acres inside the 3,300-acre Western New York Nuclear Service Center. For six years, ending in 1972, Nuclear Fuel Services, a privately-held company, ran a fuel reprocessing plant at the site.

West Valley is one of a growing number of DOE-managed sites known to have scaled-back operations due to the public health crisis – including large ones such as the Hanford Site in Washington state, the Savannah River Site South Carolina (which recently reported its first case), and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

COVID-19 information posted on the West Valley contractor’s website includes tips for employees working from home – advising them to encrypt emails, safeguard sensitive documents, and not to leave DOE electronic equipment unattended.

While the latest summary of DOE contracts, updated March 5, actually lists the vendor’s contract as expiring March 9, it is a completion contract for Phase 1 decommissioning, and deactivation of the Main Plant Process Building continues, the spokesman said.

The vendor’s existing $571-million contract began in August 2011.

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