The U.S. Department of Energy has replaced Savannah River Remediation as the liquid waste contractor for Savannah River Site.
The agency awarded the liquid waste contract, estimated at about $4.7 billion, to Savannah River EcoManagement LLC. The members of Savannah River EcoManagement, LLC are BWXT Technical Services Group Inc., Bechtel National, Inc., and Honeywell International, Inc.
Savannah River Remediation was selected for the contract in 2008 and it ran from April 2009 to March 2015, with an optional two-year extension. The DOE announced in April that it would extend the contract for another six months to Dec. 31.
The new contract is for a base period of seven years (including a transition period of 90 days) and an option period of three years, according to the DOE. Three proposals were received in response to the solicitation for the new contract.
The liquid waste services include but are not limited to: operations of existing radioactive liquid waste facilities for storage, treatment, stabilization, and disposal of waste; waste removal from tanks and tank closures; construction of additional saltstone disposal units; operation of the Salt Waste Processing Facility after facility commissioning, startup, and one year of operation; and liquid waste program and regulatory support.
Companies vying for a DOE contract, like the liquid waste management contract at SRS, must submit proposals and compete with other submitting companies. The request for proposals closed at the end of August, starting the selection process for the DOE.
When announcing the six-month extension for Savannah River Remediation, the DOE said it was 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 1980s, 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 in December 2018.