Two Savannah River Site contract awards will be delayed

·4 min read

Jul. 25—The awarding of contracts to manage and operate and secure the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site will be delayed.

Michael Budney, manager of the Department of Energy Savannah River office, updated the site's Citizens Advisory Board on the contracts Monday afternoon at the board's meeting in Augusta.

He said work continues on finding the best way to proceed on the management and operations contract for the 310 square mile site located in Aiken, Barnwell and Allendale counties.

The Department of Energy announced on Nov. 9, 2021 that they were delaying the final request for proposal to make sure the proposals it receives allow for the best possible mission execution at the site especially in light of the growing National Nuclear Security Administration's growing presence at the site.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is the office within the Department of Energy that will execute the strategy for the development of plutonium pits at SRS and at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The plan to produce plutonium pits at SRS calls for the conversion of the failed Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility into an $11 billion plutonium processing facility and for production of pits to begin in the 2030s.

The contract with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions for management and operations of the site expires in September, and the company will continue to manage and operate the site during any contractual delays.

Budney also said the selection of the next paramilitary security provider at the site would also be delayed.

The Department of Energy announced in February 2021 that it was awarding the contract for up to 10 years and $1 billion to SRS Critical Infrastructure Security.

The award to SRS Critical Infrastructure was protested twice and the award upheld.

However, the Government Accountability Office required the Department of Energy to implement an unspecified correction to their process before they could award the contract.

Budney said Monday afternoon that process was ongoing. He added the department announced recently that it was extending the current contract with Centerra for up to two years to allow for the correction process to be completed.

He also said construction of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative should begin shortly. Budney said the contractor had provided the final design and some permitting issues were still being resolved.

Budney also addressed the budget for the site.

He said the portion of the site that falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of Environmental Management will receive $1.75 billion for the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30. He said the request for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1 is $1.72 billion.

The Office of Environmental Management is one of two offices — the National Nuclear Safety Administration is the other — in the Department of Energy to play a major role at the site. It is the part of the Department of Energy tasked with addressing the waste created during the production of nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

Budney said the overall site budget for the current fiscal year is around $3 billion. He added discussions are underway for the overall budget in the next fiscal year.

He addressed operations at the site.

Budney said L-Area is on track to meet its goals for receiving spent nuclear fuel from domestic and foreign sources in 2022.

He said H-Canyon is on schedule to meet its goals of processing spent nuclear fuel. Budney said K-Area is also on track to meet its plutonium downblending goals for the year.

The deactivation of Building 235-F should be completed in 2023, Budney continued. He said the deactivation involved areas with concentrations of Plutonium-238.

Budney said the deactivation of F and H Laboratory is continuing. He said the lab's functions have been consolidated with the Savannah River National Laboratory.

He said the site has completed 11 shipments of transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico. Budney said more shipments are expected before the end of the year.

He said work continues on the construction of Saltstone Disposal Units. Budney said the tank for SDU 8 had been completed with installation of the liner underway. He said the floor of SDU 9 is complete with 22 of 25 walls and 185 of 208 columns being done. Budney said site preparation was beginning for SDU 10 and that authority has been given to construct SDUs 10, 11 and 12.

Budney said the Saltstone Production Facility had processed around 3 million gallons this fiscal year.

He said the Defense Waste Processing Facility had filled 39 canisters in the fiscal year and was on track to meet its objectives. Budney said 310 canisters have been double stacked in Glass Waste Storage Building 1 and 675 canisters had been filled since the project began in August 2016.

Budney said the Defense Waste Processing Facility was currently in a two-month outage to allow an acid change and another one month outage was planned for later in the year.

He said the Salt Waste Processing Facility had processed 920,000 gallons this fiscal year.