FE&C announces award of work to build category 2 nuclear facility at k basins
Hanford, WA – May 8, 2012 – Federal Engineers and Constructors (FE&C), a Richland-based construction and environmental remediation small business, announced today that it has been awarded an $10.8 Million project by CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) to build a Category 2 Nuclear Facility at the K Basin area of Hanford. The K West Annex will be the main facility for the high-profile Sludge Treatment Project, and will serve as a load out facility for the sludge stored in steel containers sitting underwater on the floor of the K West Basin. The sludge will be suspended in water and pumped to the KW Annex and will be settled into tanks sitting on trailers ready to take them to the T-Plant for treatment and processing of the sludge waste and eventually readied for long-term disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Construction of the facility is expected to take approximately one year.
FE&C has done renovation work on existing Category 2 Nuclear Facilities in the past, and is one of the few area companies with an existing and implemented NQA-1 quality program, a requirement for Category 2 Nuclear Facility construction. Though they have completed numerous complex construction and environmental remediation projects, this is the first award where they will be doing the initial construction for a Category 2 facility. There are few Category 2 Nuclear Facilities in the United States. “We are excited for this work, and think we are uniquely suited to excel at this job,” said Bill Swift, the K West Annex Project Manager for FE&C. “FE&C’s proven safety record coupled with its approved and implemented NQA-1 program already in place and many successful construction projects will enable our team to successfully build the K West Annex.”
CHPRC awarded the project to FE&C, which is a small business headquartered in Richland, WA. CHPRC was not required to award this contract to small business. “An award such as this helps our company to grow, and is great for the Tri-Cities economy as a whole,” said DeVerne Dunnum, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of FE&C. “As FE&C grows, our corporate office also grows as we support our branch offices in Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and abroad. Our performance on this work will help us win future work of this type at home and in other areas. We are happy to help our hometown, and thank CHPRC for this award and look forward to working with them on another successful project.”
A Category 2 Nuclear Facility is a facility that is defined as “having the potential for nuclear criticality events or with sufficient quantities of hazardous material and energy, which would require on-site emergency planning activities.” Category 2 Nuclear Facility construction projects require utilizing an NQA-1 program, a specialized quality and safety protocol that deals specifically with nuclear facilities. FE&C is one of only a handful of local construction companies having an existing and fully implemented 2008 NQA-1 program, the most current iteration.
In the 1980s, when the decision was made to stop producing plutonium at Hanford, there were more than 10,000 uranium fuel rods and rod fragments from the reactors that would not be processed any further and needed to be stored until a longer-term storage solution could be devised. It was determined these fuel rods would be temporarily placed in two water filled storage areas adjacent to the K-East and K-West Reactors. Called the K-Basins, these massive underground vessels were originally built in the 1950s as holding tanks for uranium fuel rods during Hanford’s production days. At the time, they were built for a 20 year mission, but out of necessity, their life had to be extended for this new use.
By the 1990s, it was discovered the K-East basin was starting to leak contamination into the ground. Because they were located about 400 yards from the Columbia River, cleanup of the K-Basins became a high priority. The irradiated fuel rods were removed and transported to Hanford’s Container Storage Building. However, because the fuel rods had started to deteriorate, a material called “sludge” – a radioactive mixture of tiny fuel corrosion particles, fuel rod fragments, metal fragments and other materials – had formed in the water that remained in the basins. The KE Basin sludge was transferred to the KW Basin and stored underwater with the KW Basin sludge while the K East basin was then remediated and demolished. It is this sludge that will be transported via the K West Annex building.
FE&C is not a newcomer to Category 2 Nuclear Facilities or the NQA-1 program. They have performed construction work on four Category 2 facilities – 242-A for Washington River Protection Solutions at Hanford, and three different facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for UCOR, including work at the Molten Salt Reactor building.
FE&C feels its safety program has contributed greatly to its success. “FE&C has an EMR (Experience Modification Rate) of only 0.6000, the best safety rating attainable in the State of Washington for a small business of our size,” said Steve Klover, Vice President of Environmental, Safety, Health and Quality Programs for FE&C. “Without this artificial barrier, our EMR would actually be much lower still – at 0.42. This means that we are 60% safer than the average general contractor, even though we are being compared to all general contractors who perform much less hazardous work. FE&C has made a conscious decision to specialize in all types of dangerous work such as demolition of very large structures with explosives, remediation of hexavalent chromium and remediation of other chemical, biological and nuclear contaminates. We have very experienced dedicated workers who have made this record possible.”
Federal Engineers and Constructors (FE&C) is a full-service small business which has made a conscious decision to specialize in construction, demolition and remediation work that is highly technical and highly hazardous. With one of the best safety records in the industry and a fully approved and implemented 2008 NQA-1 program, FE&C offers services to both government and commercial clients. FE&C’s work is focused on four key services: nuclear and industrial construction; deactivation, decontamination, decommissioning and demolition (D4, or D&D), hazardous and nuclear environmental remediation; and engineering and technical services. Headquartered in Richland, Washington, FE&C has offices in Oak Ridge, TN; Los Alamos, NM; Waverly, OH; England and Canada.