Environment

Two business groups bid for $1 billion cleanup contract at Idaho National Laboratory

Two teams have submitted bids on a more-than-$1 billion radioactive waste cleanup contract for the Idaho National Laboratory site, though details remain sparse on which companies make up those teams.

One bid team is led by Fluor, the other by AECOM. Both are Fortune 500 companies and are regular players in large-scale construction and cleanup projects around the world.

Fluor and AECOM representatives met with local government and economic officials in recent weeks to discuss the contract, but have not announced their bid proposals publicly. U.S. Department of Energy officials also have declined to release information about which teams, or even how many, are in the running.

Credentials

Irving, Texas-based Fluor has worked on everything from highway to solar projects and managed DOE operations at the Hanford site in Washington, and the Savannah River site in South Carolina. It opened an office in Idaho Falls last summer.

AECOM, based in Los Angeles, has worked on World Cup stadiums and New York City’s new World Trade Center, and is already involved with both current Idaho cleanup contracts and other DOE projects after purchasing rival URS Corp. last year. It maintains an office in the former Morrison Knudsen headquarters in Downtown Boise that was previously occupied by URS and, before that, by Washington Group International.

The Fluor and AECOM names were confirmed by Partnership for Science & Technology CEO Leslie Jones and several other officials with knowledge of the new contract, which is known as Idaho Cleanup Project Core, or ICP Core.

The winning contractor team — both Fluor and AECOM likely have one or two partners — will be tasked with cleanup of toxic and radioactive contamination, watching over spent nuclear fuel and several other duties at DOE’s desert site. The length of ICP Core is five years. DOE said it will be worth more than $1 billion.

The winning contractor team ultimately will take over both of the existing cleanup contracts at the site now held by Idaho Treatment Group and CH2M-WG Idaho.

AECOM is one of the parent companies of Idaho Treatment Group, along with Babcock & Wilcox and EnergySolutions. It also is a parent of CH2M-WG, alongside CH2M Hill. The “WG” stands for Washington Group, the successor to Morrison Knudsen that URS and later AECOM bought.

Fluor does not have a relationship with either contractor.

Mark Dehring, a Fluor executive, confirmed his company is leading one of the teams.

“Since we are now in ‘procurement space’ I prefer not to share any details regarding our teaming partners or our proposal to DOE,” he said in an email.

Keith Wood, a spokesman for AECOM, declined to comment on his company’s bid, “since this is a business development opportunity.”

Bechtel not in mix

Some said it was possible a third team also was in the running for ICP Core, but the existence of such a team appears unlikely.

Several officials said the leader of the third team would have been Bechtel, one of the largest construction and civil engineering companies in the United States. Bechtel showed keen interest in ICP Core when the DOE started the contracting process late last year. The company previously managed waste cleanup at the DOE site, as well as research operations at Idaho National Laboratory.

But Bechtel spokesman Fred DeSousa said his company was not in the mix. “Bechtel did a comprehensive evaluation of the opportunity but in the end did not submit a bid,” he said in an email.

As many as four contractor teams initially were interested in ICP Core, according to trade publication Weapons Complex Monitor. But several companies, including Bechtel, dropped out of the running because of what were described as overly strict terms and conditions in DOE’s contract, and not enough rewards.

It led to concerns about a lack of competition for the new contract.

“The reason you bid is you want competition,” U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson told the Post Register in February. “You want different ideas and different concepts of what it’s going to cost. I mean, that’s how you drive costs down.”

The Idaho Statesman contributed.

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