Originally created 12/17/05

SRS management to be divided into 2 contracts



AIKEN - Management responsibilities at Savannah River Site will be divided between two private contracts after 2006, according to a Department of Energy notice posted Friday.

It is possible, however, that one company could earn the right to both jobs.

The Energy Department will first solicit bids from companies that want to manage everything but the site's 49 tanks that contain nuclear waste from decades of Cold War weapons production, according to an acquisition strategy it posted on the Internet.

That contractor would handle a range of responsibilities, from Savannah River National Laboratory, a research branch, to environmental cleanup, said Jeff Allison, DOE's SRS manager.

"We wanted to have one contractor that we could hold accountable for things like pensions, safety, infrastructure," he said. "It made sense to have a (management and operations) contractor that would be the landlord."

The second private contractor would specifically manage waste tanks, which account for a large part of the site's Environmental Management budget and won't be emptied until 2020 at the earliest.

The Energy Department's acquisition strategy didn't list pertinent dates, such as bid deadlines or when final decisions would be made.

The Energy Department does "anticipate" extending its contract with Washington Savannah River Co., the current private contractor, to manage waste tanks for an unspecified amount of time, according to the acquisition strategy.

Washington's contract to manage the entire site is set to expire at the end of 2006.

Site observers have expected the Energy Department to divide SRS management responsibilities, as it has with other nuclear facilities across the country.

Multiple companies have been anxiously awaiting the Energy Department's decision.

"We're pleased to see how the contract competition will be shaped," said Jack Herrmann, the vice president of communications for Washington. "We've always been prepared and eager to bid on however many contracts they had."

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.