The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky

2 firms to take over part of cleanup

Even with the handover of some nuclear cleanup, Bechtel Jacobs will continue until a successor is settled.

By Joe Walker

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Bechtel Jacobs will soon hand off part of its nuclear cleanup work here to two other firms, but will continue most of the work for at least another three months while the U.S. Department of Energy ponders what to do about a successor.

On June 27, Swift & Staley of Paducah will assume Bechtel Jacobs' infrastructure work at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, and Uranium Disposition Services will take over maintenance of 37,000 cylinders of spent uranium hexafluoride. UDS is building a factory in front of the plant to convert the toxic material to a safer form.

The Energy Department has extended Bechtel Jacobs' cleanup contract until Aug. 31, marking the latest of about two years of extensions while a successor is sought. DOE officials say they are re-evaluating past cleanup bids — marred by multiple protests from competitors — to try to make a selection, but they have not given a time frame.

In an effort to be more cost-efficient, DOE wants to replace Bechtel Jacobs with smaller firms. Swift & Staley has formed a government services division and is working with two subcontractors, Wastren and Washington Group International (WGI), to carry out its five-year, $39.9 million infrastructure contract.

Steve Polston, former manager of the Paducah plant, is the new project manager for Swift & Staley's government services division. Leon Owens, former president of the plant's nuclear workers union, is the human resources manager.

Owens said the division will have about 70 union and salaried employees, most of whom will transfer from Bechtel Jacobs. An undetermined number of laborers and janitors will be hired through the union, which has merged with United Steelworkers of America, Owens said.

"The new union workers will earn about $17 an hour initially, but with some raises after three months," he said. "The salaried jobs will be well-paid positions."

Cook said UDS will pick up 10 to 12 Bechtel Jacobs workers for cylinder maintenance.

Workers transitioning from Bechtel Jacobs include those in environmental, safety and health; records management; security; information technology; and administrative assistance, Owens said.

He said the firm anticipates no problems in negotiating a new union contract to replace one that expires July 31.