A $4.5 billion contract was announced on 19 June, the second huge deal in a program to clean-up the USA's legacy Hanford site.
Remediation at Hanford will protect the
Columbia River (Image: DoE)
The expansive nuclear site in Washington state has been in use since 1943: first as part of the Manhattan Project that created the world's first nuclear weapons, then as a nine-reactor plutonium production complex throughout the Cold War period. There was also some research into peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Five leftover chemical plants which separated plutonium and other materials for the weapons program are the main focus of this contract. The facilities are located on the site's 'central plateau', which is also in need of environmental remediation.
A subsidiary set up by CH2M Hill will take the lead on the work, joined by an subsidiaries of Areva, Perma-Fix and Fluor and a number of pre-qualified local contractors. The US Department of Energy (DoE) said the contract was designed on a cost-plus-award basis and was worth about $4.5 billion over the total of its five-year base period and optional five year extension. CH2M Hill's subsidiary will take responsibility for the central plateau from October this year.
Specifically, the work includes the completion of the Plutonium Finishing Plant project, characterization of facilities and waste sites; disposal activities; environmental surveillance and maintenance and remediation; groundwater monitoring and remediation; and the preparation of documents for regulatory and other decisions covering groundwater, soil and facilities. Areva said its contribution would include engineering procurement and construction work for the used nuclear fuel facilities as well as remote handling operations and preparation for transporting used nuclear fuel and high-level wastes. DoE chief Sam Bodman said the work was important to protect the Columbia River.
This contract is the second of three principle deals to cover the next stages of clean-up up the site. In May a deal was announced for the management and decommissioning of underground tanks as well as the wastes they currently contain. Washington Group and Energy Solutions formed a company to be joined by an Areva subsidiary for that deal, valued at $7.1 billion over another five-year base and five-year extension timeframe. The remaining plank in DoE's strategy for Hanford is a 'mission support' contract.