Multibillion-dollar Hanford contracts in limbo

Editor’s note: The General Accounting Office rejected a bid protest related to the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract on April 22. This story has been updated to reflect the development.

The status  of  a  handful  of  the  major  contracts  remains  up  in  the  air  at  the  Hanford site, the U.S. Department of Energy’s most challenging cleanup complex.

Two contracts awarded in December 2019 were protested to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and two other contracts have yet to be awarded, with no timelines announced in early April.

Central Plateau Cleanup Contract

The contract covering remediation of the central plateau was awarded to Central Plateau Cleanup Co., a joint venture made up of AECOM, Atkins and Fluor.

The 10-year, $10 billion contract focuses on decontamination and demolition of buildings, excavation of waste sites, groundwater cleanup and management of transuranic waste.

The current $6.8 billion contract being replaced is the Plateau Remediation Contract held by CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., owned by Jacobs Engineering Group, to oversee cleanup across the Hanford site, including groundwater, but not tank waste. CHPRC has held the contract since 2008. It is operating under a one-year extension that expires at the conclusion of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2020.

Project W Restoration, a bidder, lodged a protest to the Central Plateau Cleanup bid award in January 2020. Project W is led by Bechtel National Inc., the same company that holds the multibillion-dollar contract to build the massive Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) now under construction at the Hanford site.

The GAO typically issues decisions on protests within 100 days, though they often are made in advance of the deadline.

A conclusion could be announced as late as May and would either uphold or dismiss the protest. If upheld, a solicitation to rebid could be ordered.

The Central Plateau Cleanup Contract is one of two being awarded using a new “end state contracting model” designed to balance the risk between the contractor and the federal government. 

DOE officials previously said this allows the federal government to “be a fair and demanding customer” of its contractors.

Tank Closure Contract

DOE solicited bids for a $13 billion, 10-year Tank Closure Contract more than a year ago. It is the second contract that will be awarded with the end state model.

DOE has not announced the winner of the contract and won’t share information on anticipated timing for its decision.

The new contract will replace the Tank Operations Contract, currently held by Washington River Protection Solutions. The WRPS contract was extended to September 2020.

WRPS focuses on the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in underground tanks at the site. Adding the word “closure” to the new contract reflects a plan to close the tanks once waste is eventually processed.

Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract

A second major contract also was announced in December 2019. The current Mission Support Contract, held by Mission Support Alliance, was set to expire in May 2020.

It will be replaced by the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract, valued at $4 billion and awarded to Hanford Mission Integration Solutions, a new team made up of Centerra, Leidos and Parsons.

Mission Support Alliance is owned by Leidos and Centerra.

In March 2020, DOE extended its contract with Mission Support Alliance for six months, from May 26, 2020, through November 25, 2020, with a six-month option. If the option is exercised it would extend the contract to May 25, 2021.

“These extensions were expected, as they allow for adequate time for disposition of the award protest and completion of the 120-day transition to the new Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract,” according to a memo from MSA to its employees.

A bid protest on the support services contract was filed by Hanford Integrated Infrastructure Services Contractor. GAO rejected the bid in an April 22 decision.

 “On behalf of HMIS, we look forward to helping the DOE accelerate the Hanford cleanup mission and produce cumulative cost savings,” it said in response.

DOE previously announced three teams submitted proposals for the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract, which covers all support services, including security and emergency services, infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, land management, information technology services, management of the HAMMER Federal Training Center and construction of infrastructure to support the vit plant.

DOE held debriefings in January 2020 with all bidding teams that had submitted for the two contract decisions announced in December 2019, the Central Plateau Cleanup Contract and the Hanford services contract. This process allowed all bidders, including those awarded the contract, to hear the reasoning behind the decision. Protests are typically filed within a week of a debriefing.

Lab services contract

A final contract at Hanford is up for grabs due to the expiration of the current agreement for laboratory services supporting tank waste closure.

As it stands, the 222-S Laboratory Analysis and Testing Services contract is held by Wastren Advantage, a company held by French-owned Veolia.

The lab contract also expires at the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2020. The new contract out for bid is called the 222-S Laboratory. It is expected to be awarded to a small business despite an estimated contract value between $600 million and $1 billion.

Veolia currently tests about 32,000 samples a year in the 200 West Area, mostly from the tank farms.

Vit plant, medical services contracts

Bechtel National Inc. still holds the massive contract to build the vit plant, valued at $14.7 billion.

Bechtel has been on site at Hanford since 2000 executing the contract written through 2022 with no option period. The plant is expected to be ready to treat some waste by 2023, with Bechtel expected to remain on the project through the 2036 deadline for the plant to become fully-operational.

A Kennewick company also is on site fulfilling the Occupational Medical Services contract.

HPM Corp. has been the provider of work-related medical services since 2012 and signed a new deal using the end state contracting model. HPM’s contract began in spring 2019 and is valued at $152 million over seven years.

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