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DOE extends ‘bridge contract’ for clean-up work at Los Alamos

SANTA FE, N.M. — The U.S. Department of Energy is extending a “bridge contract” for environmental clean-up work at Los Alamos National Laboratory for another year.

That means that private consortium Los Alamos National Security (LANS) will be paid another $154.7 million for the additional 12 months of clean-up work.

In 2014, the DOE decided to separate environmental remediationof radioactive and other hazardous materials generated by decades of nuclear weapons work from the overall Los Alamos lab operating contract, held since 2006 by LANS.

That move was part of a shake-up that came after a drum of radioactive waste packed improperly with a combustible mix at Los Alamos breached in February 2014 at the underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant at Carlsbad, resulting in a shutdown of the nation’s nuclear waste storage facility that continues to this day.

LANS – which includes Bechtel and the University of California – was subsequently granted a temporary “bridge contract” to continue doing the clean-up work. But a new, long-term clean-up contract under DOE’s Office of Environmental Management to take effect in October 2017 when the bridge contract, with all options exercised, will expire.

In May, Office of Environmental Management issued its draft request for proposals for the new contract. It’s the first time there will be competition for a separate cleanup contract.

The total estimated value of the new cleanup contract is approximately $1.7 billion over a prospective 10-year period, including option extensions.

LANS’s overall operating contract to run the Los Alamos lab totals about $2 billion annually. That contract is also expiring, as LANS has failed to earn adequate performance reviews to extend it beyond September 2018. An RFP for new lab operating contract will likely be issued next year.

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