The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) on 27 May awarded Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC) and the Idaho Clean-up Project (ICP) an End State contract at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site near Idaho Falls. 

EM workers recently placed a final radioactive waste shipment into the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site’s largest waste disposal area as a first step towards closing the facility, fulfilling a DOE commitment to the state of Idaho.

Waste management personnel with Fluor Idaho, EM’s INL Site clean-up contractor, used a 55-ton cask to insert activated metals into a concrete-lined vault within a fenced section of the 97-acre Subsurface Disposal Area (SDA). The metals comprised structural components of used nuclear fuel assemblies.

The single-award Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract, with an estimated contract ceiling of approximately $6.4 billion over a 10-year ordering period, will have Cost Reimbursement and Fixed Price Task Orders to define the contract performance. EM said the ICP contract exemplifies DOE’s commitment to continue supporting a highly-skilled, diverse workforce that provides approximately 1,900 jobs that pay prevailing wages in safe and healthy workplaces. The contract ensures workers have the right to organise, join a union, and bargain collectively with their employers. Union-represented workers currently make up approximately 43% of the total workforce.

Work to be performed under the contract will include:

  • Operations of the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU);
  • Used Nuclear Fuel Management, including Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)-licensed for the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations (ISFSI) located at the INL Site and the Fort Saint Vrain (FSV) ISFSI near Platteville, Colorado;
  • Transuranic and low-level waste disposition and management;
  • Facility decontamination and decommissioning;
  • Environmental remediation activities; and
  • Facility Infrastructure.

In these projects, crews will move used fuel from wet to dry storage and close nuclear tank farms, among other tasks. There were 106 shipments of transuranic waste from the site last year to the underground Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) storage facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

The procurement followed a full-and-open competition in which EM received five proposals. The Department determined the IEC proposal provided the best value to the Government considering Key Personnel, Past Performance, Management Approach, and Cost and Fee to achieve measurable results toward completion of the DOE-EM mission at the INL Site. DOE did not disclose names of the other bidders, but the list included a Fluor team, according to industry sources.

IEC is a single purpose operating entity that includes Jacobs Technology and North Wind Portage (NWP), a small business. IEC’s small business teaming subcontractors include Navarro Research and Engineering, Oak Ridge Technologies (ORT), and Spectra Tech.

One of DOE’s strategic goals is to meet the challenges of cleaning up the US Manhattan Project and Cold War legacy. To accomplish this, EM must reduce its environmental liabilities through accelerated clean-up of high-risk areas, resulting in risk reduction and returning land for its projected future use. This must be accomplished in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment, EM said.

The goal of this End State contract award is to achieve measurable results toward completion of the DOE-EM mission at the INL Site, and the FSV facility in Colorado, by accomplishing the maximum amount of environmental clean-up within the 10-year ordering period at the best value to the US taxpayer. The contractor will be required to perform work under this master IDIQ contract in compliance with current and future milestones in the 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement court order, the 2008 Agreement to Implement court order, the Comprehensive Environmental Clean-up Conservation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The Subsurface Disposal Area at the INL site began receiving INL-generated radioactive and hazardous waste in 1952. Beginning in 1954, the landfill accepted Cold War weapons waste from the former Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado and other off-site generators. Following a change of policy in 1970, the SDA stopped receiving transuranic and hazardous waste but continued to receive boxed low-level radioactive waste and later highly radioactive metal debris in specially designed vaults inside the SDA.

The disposal site's first set of 100 concrete vaults were constructed in 1993, and they received their first waste shipment in 1994. The second set of 100 concrete vaults were constructed in 2003, with their first waste shipment in 2008. The last waste shipment to the second set of vaults was completed earlier in May.

The vaults, constructed of concrete manhole sections resting on a base and capped with a concrete plug, are configured in honeycomb arrays. They are surrounded by soil for additional shielding and protection from earthquakes, and the void spaces between the vaults in each array are filled with sand. Following closure of the disposal site, activated metals will be disposed in a facility managed by INL contractor Battelle Energy Alliance. That disposal facility is located near the Advanced Test Reactor Complex in the central portion of the 890-square-mile INL Site.

"Jacobs welcomes the opportunity to partner with DOE to advance the restoration of the ICP to beneficial re-use for the INL and Idaho Falls community," said Jacobs Critical Mission Solutions SVP, North American Nuclear Karen Wiemelt. "Together with the DOE, Jacobs will use our technology-driven solutions to reduce the environmental legacy of the Cold War, support high-quality jobs in the region and protect the Snake River Plain Aquifer, a critical element of Idaho's agricultural industry."