DOE starts planning for new Hanford contracts

The Department of Energy has taken the first step toward awarding new contracts for large scopes of work at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

It has issued a request for information from companies interested in environmental cleanup and support services after September 2018. The work is managed by the DOE Richland Operations Office, which typically has an annual budget approaching $1 billion.

The contract held by CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., which is responsible for much of central Hanford and groundwater cleanup, expires in September 2018.

The contract for Washington Closure Hanford, which is responsible for cleanup along the Columbia River, has been extended through September 2016. Most of the cleanup along the river will be completed then, but some continuing work on complex or difficult projects will need to be assigned to another contractor.

The third large contract awarded by the Richland Operations Office, held by Mission Support Alliance, expires in September 2019. It covers sitewide services, including information technology, utilities, security, fire protection, management of the HAMMER training center, road maintenance, preservation of cultural artifacts and portfolio management for DOE, including providing data to help DOE plan for and meet deadlines.

As contract expiration dates approach, DOE wants feedback from companies interested in the work on innovative approaches to work and potential contracting goals, according to DOE’s request for information.

Key decisions on the new contracts have yet to be made. DOE has not decided the number of contracts, types of contracts, dates of work or whether some will be reserved for small businesses. It has asked for proposals from interested companies on how they would like those matters handled.

The request for information also does not cover the possible cost of projects, but asks interested companies to provide information on how they would deal with funding that could vary by budget year.

The request for information does not include work at the Hanford tank farms, where Washington River Protection Solutions manages 56 million gallons of high level radioactive waste held in underground tanks. The tank farms contract falls under a different office, the DOE Office of River Protection.

It also will expire in a few years. The Washington River Protection Solutions contract is good through September 2016, and DOE has the option to extend it through September 2018.

The major work that could be included in one or more new cleanup contracts under the Richland Operations Office includes transferring the K Basin sludge to central Hanford and treating it, establishing infrastructure to support vitrification plant operations, completing transfer of strontium and cesium capsules to dry storage and retrieving temporarily buried waste and preparing it for shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Groundwater cleanup and protection would continue.

Additional central Hanford work could include preparation to demolish Hanford’s huge processing buildings and tearing down contaminated central Hanford buildings and digging up contaminated waste sites there.

Additional work along the Columbia River could include completing cleanup at the 324 Building, which sits over a highly radioactive spill; digging up the 618-11 Burial Ground near Energy Northwest’s nuclear power plant on leased Hanford land and cocooning the K Reactors, a process that puts them into long-term storage.

DOE plans separate Hanford site tours on Nov. 17 for companies interested in the Richland Operations Office cleanup projects and the Hanford-wide infrastructure and services. Individual meetings will be scheduled Nov. 18 to 20. Sign up information is posted at 1.usa.gov/1NgIBv4.

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