There is still no word on the outcome of protests filed on the contract award for management of the Department of Energy’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center. Three losing bidders filed appeals with the Government Accountability Office following the June award of the $123.9 million contract to North Wind Solutions LLC.
Ben Williams, a spokesman for DOE’s Office of Environmental Management in Oak Ridge, said the federal agency anticipates some resolution on the contract appeals by mid-October. He noted that the current management contract with Wastren Advantage has been extended until Oct. 18 to give time for the appeals process to work. That should allow adequate time for the GAO decision, Williams said.
“However, if necessary, we do have three, one-month options on the WAI contract that will allow progress to continue through January,” he said.
Once the protests are settled, there will be a 45-day transition for the new contractor to assume responsibility for the TWPC operations, he said.
“In the meantime, WAI continues to safely operate the facility and is making good progress,” the federal spokesman said. “To date, nearly all of the contact-handled waste has been processed (471 cubic meters out of the total of 487 that’s on site) and approximately 86 percent of the remote-handled debris (398 cubic meters out of the total 490 that’s on site) is complete. We remain on schedule to complete debris processing in Fiscal Year 2018.”
According to Williams, the total Oak Ridge inventories, from the beginning of TWPC operations, were 1,523 cubic meters of contact-handled transuranic waste, with 653 cubic meters of remote-handled debris. That doesn’t include the remote-handled sludge, which will be the hottest and most difficult wastes to be handled at Oak Ridge. The RH sludge work is still on the horizon, with work first to come on a mock processing facility and then the new processing center itself.
The Central Characterization Program team has been in Oak Ridge since last October, evaluating the waste that has been processed, packaged and prepared for delivery to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant — the government’s underground disposal site in New Mexico that’s been shut down due to a fire, radioactive releases and other issues of concern.
Of the remaining waste on site, 65 percent of the contact-handled waste has been certified and ready for WIPP (when it reopens) and 58 percent of the remote-handled debris has been certified as ready for delivery and disposal at WIPP.
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