A protest has been lodged in the Department of Energy's $48.6 million award to Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International to operate Hanford's 222-S Laboratory.
The Department of Energy will have 35 days to address the protest, which was filed with the agency's Environmental Management Consolidated Business Center rather than the Government Accountability Office. The protest was filed Nov. 27.
Four bids were received for the small business contract, which DOE awarded Nov. 20. DOE declined to say who bid on the project or which bidder filed the protest.
Advanced Technologies and Laboratories, or ATL, was the first business to operate the laboratory after DOE decided to split the work out of the Hanford tank farm contract to create a small-business opportunity. Its original five-year contract under the DOE Hanford Office of River Protection is set to expire Jan. 3.
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"We feel good and humbled to continue our support to Office of River Protection," said Jou Hwang, ATL president, when ATL was announced as a second-time winner of the contract in November.
The contractor now employs about 70 workers but expects to hire more because of increased sampling expected to be done by other contractors with federal economic stimulus money. Assuming the protest is settled in ATL's favor, ATL also plans to open a privately funded lab in the Tri-Cities, Hwang said.
The 222-S Laboratory at Hanford is the nuclear reservation's primary lab for highly radioactive samples and performs about 15,000 analyses on inorganic, organic and radiochemical samples annually. Most of the samples are from the 53 million gallons of radioactive waste held in underground tanks from when Hanford was producing plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.
The testing and analysis are needed to determine the waste composition, maintain control of the chemistry of wastes in the underground tanks and prepare to turn the waste into a stable glass form at the vitrification plant, which is under construction.
The lab complex includes a 70,000-square-foot laboratory and several support buildings. It has 11 hot cells. Washington River Protection Solutions acts as landlord of the lab.
-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org; more Hanford news at hanfordnews.com.