Government awards four billion-dollar contract to clean up US’s most contaminated nuclear site.

The Department of Energy (DoE) has announced that Bechtel-Washington has been selected to design, construct, and commission a new waste treatment and immobilisation plant to clean up that will remediate tank waste from Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State.

The contract is valued at approximately $4 billion over a ten-year period, the DoE’s Secretary Bill Richardson announced on 12 December. There are more than 53 million gallons (241 million litres) of highly radioactive tank waste stored in ageing underground tanks at the site in the southeast of Washington State. The tank waste, a by-product of plutonium production for World War II and Cold War defence purposes, will be vitrified as an inert waste form.

Bechtel-Washington will begin work immediately and locate its project team in Richland, Washington. Bechtel, based in San Francisco, California, teamed with Washington Group International, Inc., based in Aiken, South Carolina, will perform the contract. The Washington Group International, Inc., includes the former companies of Westinghouse Government and Environmental Services Company, Morrison Knudsen, and Raytheon Engineers and Constructors.

“This is a major step towards meeting our commitment to the people of the State of Washington to treat waste now stored in underground tanks at Hanford,” Richardson said. “By selecting a new contractor more than one month ahead of schedule, the department has maintained momentum on this critical project.”

“Bechtel-Washington provides DOE the highest confidence of delivering a plant that works within budget and schedule,” said Harry Boston, the Office of River Protection Manager, which manages the day-to-day operation of retrieval and treatment of tank waste at the Hanford Site. “The competitive process for this award helps give us confidence that this job will be completed in a fiscally responsible manner.”

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