Bechtel earns $7.2 million in incentive pay for managing Hanford vit plant

The Hanford vitrification plant is being built in central Hanford to glassify radioactive waste now held in underground tanks for permanent disposal.
The Hanford vitrification plant is being built in central Hanford to glassify radioactive waste now held in underground tanks for permanent disposal. Courtesy Bechtel National

The Department of Energy’s assessment of Bechtel National at Hanford continues to inch upward.

Its contractor has earned $7.2 million in incentive pay, based on the Department of Energy’s review of the contractor’s performance and management of the Hanford vitrification plant construction project in 2016.

Bechtel received 71 percent of the $10.2 million annual incentive pay available, according to a scorecard released by DOE. Rewards for finishing specific parts of the project on time are available in addition to annual incentive pay.

“This marks our team’s fourth consecutive year receiving an increased performance score,” said Peggy McCullough, Bechtel project director for the vit plant project. Bechtel has about 3,000 workers.

In 2012 Bechtel voluntarily gave up its incentive pay for the second half of the year after work ramped down on parts of the project plagued with technical issues. The next year it received less than 50 percent of the pay available.

Its award had climbed to 66 percent in 2015.

DOE evaluated Bechtel in two areas last year.

DOE rated Bechtel as “very good” for project performance, a category that is based on meeting cost and schedule.

The contractor received close to 86 percent, or $2.1 million of $2.4 million, available in that category.

$7.8Mavailable for project management pay

$5.2Mearned for project management

$2.4Mavailable for project cost, schedule performance pay

$2.1M earned for project cost, schedule performance

An experienced construction management team allowed the company to overcome challenges with design changes and equipment and materials that arrived late, the scorecard said. DOE also praised construction progress being made at parts of the plant that will handle low activity radioactive waste.

In the second area evaluated, project management, DOE rated Bechtel as “good,” with different management areas receiving ratings ranging from 50 to 97 percent.

It earned about $5.2 million of the $7.8 million available in project management.

Bechtel performed best in the subcategory of “One System,” a project to coordinate work between the plant and the tank farms. The vitrification plant is being built at a cost of more than $17 billion to treat up to 56 million gallons of nuclear weapons program waste held in underground tanks.

Bechtel earned 97 percent of available pay for One System, and also did well in the subcategory of technical issue resolution, receiving 90 percent of possible pay.

Its worst performance was in the subcategories of quality, quality documentation and nuclear safety, earning just 50 percent of available pay in each.

Among shortcomings was submitting quality information six months late without all necessary information, making a DOE comprehensive review difficult, the scorecard said.

In addition, the scorecard found fault with the preparation of documents to show that the part of the vit plant that will handle low activity radioactive waste can be operated safely. Lessons learned from previous DOE comments were not incorporated and there was significant missing information in a preliminary analysis, the scorecard said.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533, @HanfordNews