Department of Energy extends liquid waste contract at Savannah River Site

The Defense Waste Processing Facility is part of the liquid waste contract at Savannah River Site.

Savannah River Remediation will remain in charge of the liquid waste mission and contract at Savannah River Site for another six months, according to an announcement from the Department of Energy.


The announcement comes at a time when the Energy Department was expected to announce a new contract winner. DOE selected SRR to handle liquid waste missions at SRS in 2008. The original contract ran from April 2009 to March 2015, with an optional two-year extension. The Energy Department elected to take that option, pushing the contract end to June 30 .

Companies vying for a DOE contract, like the liquid waste management contract at SRS, must submit proposals and compete with other submitting companies. Last June, the department released its final request for proposals for the site’s liquid waste missions.

According to the Energy Department website, the overall contract has an estimated value of $4-$6 billion. The request for proposals closed at the end of August, starting the selection process for the DOE.

The Energy Department announcement said the extension is meant to accommodate the competitive procurement process.

“Discussion with the offerors who responded to the request for proposals is in process - a process which will extend the date of award of that action by approximately six months,” a department spokesman said. “This action will allow the Department’s selection, award and transition to the new contract to occur without interruptions of ongoing services.”

The liquid waste contractor is responsible for disposition of millions of gallons of highly radioactive liquid waste, stored in massive carbon-steel tanks. The so-called tank farms hold waste primarily leftover from legacy Cold War operations. Some of the waste material was also generated by ongoing reprocessing missions at the nation’s only active nuclear materials chemical separations facility, H-Canyon.

Two major facilities designed to execute that disposition are currently off-line. The Defense Waste Processing Facility, operational since the 1980’s, turns the most radioactive part of that liquid waste into glass. The glass is poured into forms and stored in large stainless steel canisters.

The canisters are currently being stored in underground vaults awaiting an official national nuclear waste repository like the stalled Yucca Mountain facility. DWPF was taken offline to replace the melter, the second-ever in the facility, after nearly 14 years in operation.

The Salt Waste Processing facility has yet to begin operations after construction was completed last April. Full systems tests are underway as crews work to tie the facility into the live systems to begin processing. The facility is expected to go on-line December 2018.

Savannah River Remediation will remain on contract until December 31. The Energy Department has not released any information about potential contract winners and information regarding which companies submitted proposals has not been made publicly available.

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