The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky

Bidding reopened to replace Bechtel

Because of protests, DOE is seeking a new firm to serve as lead cleanup contractor for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

By Joe Walker

Friday, June 24, 2005

Having been confronted with multiple protests, the U.S. Department of Energy has reopened bidding for a firm to replace Bechtel Jacobs as lead cleanup contractor for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

DOE posted the request for proposals Monday on the Internet, saying it was "determined to be in the best interests of the government to take corrective action and reopen the competition." Bid requirements have been revised to account for the time lag and to update work requirements, the agency said.

Revised proposals are due by Aug. 4. The new company will replace Bechtel Jacobs on Nov. 1 under a contract through Sept. 30, 2009. The project will be worth about $279 million, reflecting work done by Bechtel Jacobs since procurement went awry earlier this year.

North Wind Paducah Cleanup Co. won a $303 million cleanup contract in January, but several other bidders balked. Their protests were dismissed with DOE's agreement to rebid the work. Bechtel Jacobs' contract has since been extended until at least Aug. 31, the latest of two years of extensions while a successor is sought.

Bechtel Jacobs and predecessor cleanup firms have been based in an industrial park at Kevil since cleanup went into full stride in the mid-1990s. More than 500 people work for the company and its subcontractors.

The new contract is supposed to have incentives to manage costs effectively while completing the cleanup work on schedule. Prior to the North Wind selection, DOE had twice delayed awarding the contract since 2003, when it announced it would replace Bechtel Jacobs, one of the nationís largest cleanup firms, with a smaller business. The delays baffled public officials and local firms competing for the contracts.

On Monday, Swift & Staley of Paducah will assume Bechtel Jacobsí infrastructure work at the 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.