Originally created 11/01/06

2 companies will run SRS, document shows

AIKEN - The Department of Energy on Tuesday ended months of speculation about how it will run Savannah River Site in the future by releasing its draft request for proposed bids.

The department will hire one company to handle management and operations at the nuclear reservation, a contract that DOE "anticipates" being worth $722 million in fiscal 2007, documents show.

The contract will include the site's environmental management division and some cleanup of nuclear materials, in addition to the Savannah River National Laboratory. However, it will not include the management of liquid nuclear waste left over from the production of Cold War weapons.

Dividing the site's primary missions between two contracts marks a managerial shift at SRS. The responsibility has been handled by one private company since the nuclear reservation opened in the early 1950s.

DuPont handled the job from about 1950 until 1989, when the company now known as Washington Savannah River Co. took over.

The DOE has yet to determine when it will make its decision on the management and operations contract and hasn't said when it will issue draft bid documents for the liquid waste contract.

Though the contract's start date remains unclear, the draft offers performance fees that start in April 2008 and run through 2012, with the potential to continue through 2017. It states that the selected company will be eligible for a $14 million performance fee for the six months between April and September 2008, and an additional fee that can't exceed $28.8 million each year after that.

The DOE also announced Tuesday that Washington Savannah River's contract that expires Dec. 31 would be extended as long as 18 months and would be worth as much as $1.5 billion.

"We want to evaluate and award a contract as soon as possible," DOE spokeswoman Megan Barnett said. "We also want to be sure that we're doing a thorough review and get the right contractor."

The draft management and operations contract states that whatever company is selected "shall offer employment to all incumbent employees" who are not considered "discretionary" managers.

There are fewer than 10,000 employees at SRS, and those who might be let go will be offered a "retirement and medical benefit" package, documents state.

Companies interested in the SRS management and operations contract have until Dec. 8 to submit questions and comments. This is the first time since it took over that Washington Savannah River faces competition to run the site.

"We've done a lot of planning for most of the contingencies you would encounter, if not all of them," said Jack Herrmann, the vice president of communications for Washington Group International, Washington Savannah River's parent company. "We're glad to finally get things underway."

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


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