Originally created 12/08/00

Staffers honored by DOE



Savannah River Site's head contractor received the U.S. Department of Energy's top safety award Thursday.

The announcement came a day after the DOE awarded the site's security contractor nearly $1.5 million for recent work at the federal nuclear-weapons site.

After nearly seven years of effort, Westinghouse Savannah River Co. has achieved "STAR" status in the department's Voluntary Protection Program, Energy Department officials announced during a celebration at the site.

"The reason I've never been here before is because of the good job that you do," said David Michaels, the Energy Department's assistant secretary for environment, safety and health, to a crowd of about 200 SRS employees. "You are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the complex.

"You are a model for how we all should be working."

At more than 13,000 employees, Westinghouse is the largest Energy Department contractor to receive STAR status. To maintain the status, the company must pass a re-evaluation every three years.

"You have not arrived in terms of your work being done in getting this award," said Ambrose Schwallie, president of the government-operating unit of Washington Group International, Westinghouse's corporate parent. "This work will continue."

On Wednesday, it was announced that Wackenhut Services Inc. earned about $1.49 million, of the possible $1.5 million, for its work at SRS from April through September. The firm earned a score of 99, the 18th score of 90 or better in the past 19 evaluation periods.

"Overall, Wackenhut Services Inc. demonstrated an excellent level of performance and technically competent leadership this period," wrote Greg Rudy, the Energy Department's manager at SRS.

The security firm's general manager at SRS issued a statement Wednesday thanking his employees.

"My heartfelt thanks go to every Wackenhut employee for this achievement," stated Lawrence Brede Jr., the firm's senior vice president and general manager at SRS.

In a letter to Dr. Brede, Mr. Rudy noted several accomplishments by Wackenhut during the evaluation period:

The firm performed well in several graded exercises and tests, including an annual emergency-response drill.

The firm's two helicopters spotted seven wildfires at SRS, and shuttled firefighters to one fire in a remote location.

Wackenhut developed a voluntary physical fitness program for its personnel.

The company was accredited by the Council on Occupational Education for its career-development programs, making Wackenhut the nation's first private security firm to achieve such status.

Reach Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409.