Protest denied of Hanford 222-S Lab contract award

Analysis of highly radioactive Hanford waste is done in hot cells at the 222-S Laboratory.
Analysis of highly radioactive Hanford waste is done in hot cells at the 222-S Laboratory. Tri-City Herald

The Government Accountability Office has denied a protest of the choice of a new contractor to provide analytic laboratory services at the Hanford 222-S Laboratory.

The Department of Energy announced Thursday that it would begin the transition to the new contractor, Wastren Advantage of Piketon, Ohio. The transition should be completed on Nov. 21.

The protest had been filed by Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International, which has held the contract since early 2005.

DOE awarded the contract, valued at about $44.6 million, to Wastren in May. It includes a three-year base period with the option of a two-year extension.

Advanced Technologies and Laboratories filed protest documents in June and again in August. The protest information is covered by a protected order and a redacted version has yet to be made public.

Protests may be filed for a range of reasons. They include how DOE evaluated safety and health, technical and management approach, experience and past performance, key personnel and cost of proposals.

The new contract allows DOE to shift cost risk from the taxpayer to the new contractor, DOE said in a statement.

In addition to the fixed price for services, additional work approved by DOE will be covered through a reimbursement of costs. Pension and benefit costs also will be reimbursed. An incentive fee will be available for certain line items in the contract, according to the request for bids.

The 222-S Laboratory is a 70,000-square-foot facility that handles highly radioactive samples to conduct organic, inorganic and radio-chemistry analyses. The new contract is expected to cover 15,000 to 25,000 analyses annually.

Many of the samples come from Hanford’s underground tanks, which hold high-level radioactive waste left from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s weapons program.

Information is used to determine what wastes can be combined in tanks and to help plan how workers can best be protected while working at specific tanks.

The lab has 11 hot cells, where workers operate handling equipment from outside the cells and look through thick leaded glass to work with waste samples within the hot cell.

Wastren already has a presence at Hanford. It is the managing partner of WAI Stoller Disposal Operations, a subcontractor to Washington Closure Hanford. The subcontractor manages and operates the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, a huge landfill in central Hanford for low-level radioactive and hazardous chemical waste.

Advanced Technologies and Laboratories, under the leadership of Jou Hwang at the 222-S Laboratory, earned four consecutive DOE Voluntary Protection Program Star of Excellence Awards, which recognize facilities with outstanding occupational safety and health management systems.

“(DOE) thanks ATL for their outstanding support and Jou for his leadership,” said Kevin Smith, the manager of the DOE Office of River Protection, in a statement Thursday.

When Hanford contractors change, staff typically transfer from the old contractor to the new contractor, which brings in its own management team.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews