$3bn contract awarded for nuclear waste disposal

The United States’ Department of Energy has awarded a US$3 billion Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) contract to Tularosa Basin Range Services, a Bechtel company.

The site has been in operation since 1999 and disposes of nuclear waste. The site has been in operation since 1999 and disposes of nuclear waste. (Photo: Department of Energy)

The plant, which is located in a desert near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico, is the only underground plant for nuclear waste in the US. Comprising a system of disposal rooms situated 610 m (2,000 ft) below surface level, the plant currently receives waste from 22 government sites.

The site has been in operation since 1999 and contains soil, tools, debris, and other items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other human-made radioactive elements.

According to the Department of Energy, the contract will see Tularosa Basin Range Services manage and operate the site and carry out work that supports the Office of Environmental Management.

Some of the work the Virginia-based company will undertake includes the disposal and transportation of nuclear waste, experimental and testing activities as well as supporting projects and operations on the site.

The company, which will fulfill the contract via a single-purpose company called SIMCO, will also maintain and report on an annual Community Commitment Plan.

“The mission to safely dispose of defense-related nuclear waste is vitally important for protecting people and the planet,” said Dena Volovar, Bechtel National executive vice president. “We’re honored to be entrusted with this mission and look forward to joining the WIPP team and the Carlsbad community.”

The contract, which could last up to 10 years, includes a four-year base period and six one-year option periods. 

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