A contractor hired by the U.S. Department of Energy to lead daily operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad was granted $10.8 million for its performance in fiscal year 2018, despite allegations of worker safety problems and other dangers in the underground.
The funding accounted for 86 percent of available federal dollars for Nuclear Waste Partnership, DOE said in a news release.
NWP was eligible for about $12.5 million in total.
It earned about $8.3 million of the $9.4 million available for its objective criteria, and $2.6 million of the $3.1 million available for subjective criteria.
The total allocation meant NWP earned about $2 million less than the federal money available of operations of WIPP.
The DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office Manager Todd Shrader said the office considered five areas of performance when evaluating NWP’s performance in managing WIPP operations.
NWP was rated at 96 percent for cost control, or “excellent” for a fee of $600,308.
The contractor was rated “very good” or 90 percent for mission performance and received $562,789, while getting the same rating at 86 percent for regulatory compliance for $537,776 and management performance at 77 percent for $481,497, records show.
Safety and health at WIPP was rated “good” at 72 percent for $450,231.
“Nuclear Waste Partnership continues its strong performance in key contract areas, including mission performance and cost control,” Shrader said. “We are also very pleased with NWP’s FY18 achievements in areas such as infrastructure projects, ground control, mining, and waste emplacement.”
Weekly shipments were grown from four to 10 during FY 2018, because NWP “performed strongly” in waste characterization activities and improved transuranic waste emplacement processes, according to the release.
The contractor also “performed well” with stakeholder and outreach interactions, read the report.
And the contractor exceeded its “community commitments” for local charities and small businesses, the release read, and cut or avoided some costs.
The funding would go toward mining Panel 8 to continue emplacing waste, while beginning a rebuild of WIPP’s ventilation system, improving work conditions and ground control bolting.