Bechtel National needs to improve its handling of technical issues and quality assurance, but is doing a good job of identifying issues as it designs and builds the Hanford vitrification plant, according to the Department of Energy.
DOE announced a month ago that Bechtel would receive 65 percent of the award pay possible for the last six months of 2014 as DOE’s contractor. It is the highest percentage among the last five pay awards received.
Details were released Friday by DOE on the decision to award Bechtel almost $4.1 million out of a possible $6.3 million for work done between July 1 and Dec. 31 of last year.
“Our scores are steadily increasing,” said Peggy McCullough, the Bechtel director of the vit plant project, in a message to employees Friday. “Your attention to safety and quality is clearly evident in (DOE’s) evaluation of our performance.”
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Bechtel’s top score was for project management related to self-analysis, assessments, discovery and action. It received 87 percent of the pay available, or almost $1.1 million.
Bechtel did a better job of communicating and being open with DOE in almost all areas, which provided DOE a better understanding of emerging issues and input into how Bechtel is resolving issues, DOE said in a “scorecard.” The document explains what is working well and what needs improvement.
Bechtel identified and reported issues, resulting in quicker resolution, the scorecard said. More than 80 percent of issues were identified by Bechtel. There also was improved discussion and more self-questioning in Bechtel’s Management Performance Improvement Review Board.
However, Bechtel needs to more quickly analyze issues to determine their causes, the scorecard said.
Bechtel’s second-highest score was in project management related to environment, safety and health, with 75 percent of the possible award received, or $945,000.
It has met requirements for improving its nuclear safety culture in five of six key areas and should check off the sixth shortly, the scorecard said. Safety performance continues to be very good for the construction work on a project of the vit plant’s size and complexity.
DOE did find some Occupational Safety and Health Administration deficiencies on some installed electrical equipment.
A high point for Bechtel’s project leadership and management related to cost controls was the contractor’s quick organization and start on the design of a new plant, the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste plant. It will separate out low-activity waste from waste now held in underground tanks to allow it to be treated as soon as 2022. DOE said the design “is proceeding as planned despite resource constraints.”
Bechtel received 66 percent of possible pay for project leadership and management, or $831,600. It needs to improve the quality and technical approach in the development and internal review of technical products, DOE said.
On quality assurance, Bechtel earned just 50 percent of available pay, or $630,000. It has completed 9 of 33 actions to address DOE’s earlier finding that implementation of its quality assurance program is ineffective. It has completed just a quarter of actions to address an earlier finding that its program to make corrections is ineffective, according to the scorecard.
Bechtel continues to have problems resolving technical issues, with most work stopped at the vit plant’s Pretreatment Facility and some construction stopped at the plant’s High Level Waste Facility until issues are resolved.
Its rating for technical issue resolution was 47 percent, or $592,000.
DOE did praise the performance of the team working on full-scale testing of tanks that must keep waste well-mixed in the Pretreatment Facility. It also liked the organization structure for resolving Pretreatment Facility issues and completion of the High Level Waste Facility design issues.
However, there was limited work to resolve issues with the Pretreatment Facility’s ventilation, and some work to address erosion and corrosion within the plant’s equipment is behind schedule.