Hanford contractor with 1,500 workers may get multi-million dollar extension

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. crews tear down the 222-B Building in central Hanford as part of its current cleanup contract at the site.
CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. crews tear down the 222-B Building in central Hanford as part of its current cleanup contract at the site. Courtesy Department of Energy

Plans are being made to extend one of Hanford's largest contracts for up to a year, the Department of Energy said on Thursday.

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., now owned by Jacobs Engineering Group, holds a 10-year environmental cleanup contract that expires Sept. 30.

The current contract is valued at an estimated $5.8 billion, including $1.3 billion of economic stimulus work under the Obama administration. No estimate for the value of the anticipated extension has been released.

DOE announced on April 19 that it planned to issue a draft request for bids for the new Central Plateau Cleanup Contract between May 4 and June 3, but has yet to release the draft.

The new contract would replace the expiring contract held by CH2M, which employs about 1,500 workers, not including employees of its subcontractors.

DOE has yet to extend CH2M's contract, announcing only its intent to extend the contract with its expiration little more than three months away.

"Extensive advance planning for the follow-on procurement has been on-going for several years" and the proposed contract extension would allow work to continue until the new contract is awarded, DOE said in its announcement.

hanford workers
CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. employees work with radioactive waste in a pool beneath the grating they are standing on at a Hanford nuclear reservation K Basin. Courtesy Department of Energy

The new contract is expected to be similar to the cleanup work now assigned to CH2M, which covers some remaining cleanup work along the Columbia River and central Hanford cleanup, except the work related to 177 underground waste storage tanks.

Hanford is extensively contaminated from the past production of plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.

In addition, DOE had proposed that the new contract would cover closing underground waste storage tanks as work to retrieve radioactive waste from each tank farm is completed. DOE is making plans to close its first tank farm, the C Tank Farm with 16 tanks.

However, after the DOE contract plan was announced in April, the U.S. Senate released its Hanford spending bill report for fiscal 2019.

The bill report would prohibit DOE from using money from the Richland Operations Office, which would be responsible for the new contract, to pay for any work in the Hanford tank farms.

The announcement made by DOE on Thursday about its plan to extend CH2M's contract, lists the possible work that CH2M could do from Oct. 1 of this year through Sept. 30, 2019.

Key work includes finishing demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant down to its foundation. Demolition is currently halted after a spread of radioactive particles during demolition last year.

CH2M also could finish shipping radioactive sludge from underwater containers in the K West Reactor Basin near the Columbia River to dry storage in the center of the Hanford site.

The first shipment to T Plant in central Hanford could be made as soon as next week, after work began last week to fill the first storage container.

Equipment shipped from the West Valley Demolition Project in New York will be reused at Hanford to transport nearly 2,000 radioactive cesium and strontium capsules to dry storage. Preparations are being made by CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. Courtesy Department of Energy

CH2M would continue preparations to remove radioactive cesium and strontium capsules from underwater storage in a concrete basin that could be at risk in a severe earthquake. It also would continue treatment of contaminated groundwater.

In early April, DOE made a similar announcement about a contract extension for its Hanford tank farm contract, Washington River Protection Solutions, a limited liability company owned by AECOM and SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business..

DOE said it had plans to extend the current contract, valued at $7.1 billion over a decade, for up to a year. It expires at the end of September without the extension.

DOE already has released a draft request for bids for a contract valued at up to $4 billion for a 10-year Mission Essential Services Contract.

Similar work is now done by Mission Support Alliance, which holds a contract that expires May 25, 2019.

Annette Cary; 509-582-1533; @HanfordNews