US research facility cleanup contract

08 January 2008

URS Corporation's Washington Division has been awarded a $67 million task order to deactivate and demolish a 1950s nuclear research facility at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, New York State.


The four-year task order, awarded by the US Department of Energy (DOE), will see URS undertake deactivation, demolition and removal of process facilities, and removal of incidental contaminated soil, at the former Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU) at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) in New York state. The SPRU facilities and adjacent land areas requiring remediation cover an area of about 5 ha. The contract also includes decontamination of piping tunnels connecting the SPRU facilities to other operating facilities on the KAPL site.


The SPRU operated from 1950 to 1953 as a pilot plant to research the REDOX and PUREX chemical processes used to extract uranium and plutonium from irradiated uranium. The PUREX process, which involves dissolving irradiated fuel elements in concentrated nitric acid followed by chemical separation of uranium and plutonium by solvent extraction, is today used in all commercial reprocessing plants to remove uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.


Washington Group International became URS Washington Division when it was bought by URS in November 2007. It was selected by the DOE from a pool of contractors through a competitive bidding process. URS Washington Division president Stephen G. Hanks said the award underscored his company's leadership position in safely managing complex, high-hazard projects and operations. "For more than a half century, the Washington Division has successfully performed similar work for the DOE, its predecessor agencies and commercial nuclear companies," he added.


KAPL now operates as a research and development facility supporting the US Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

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