Skip to content

Bechtel’s Impact Report

Bechtel Company Assumes Responsibility of Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

  • 10 February 2023

Salado Isolation Mining Contractors completes transition to operate the U.S. defense nuclear waste disposal facility in New Mexico

A Bechtel company, Salado Isolation Mining Contractors LLC (SIMCO), has assumed responsibility for managing and operating the only deep underground repository for defense-related transuranic nuclear waste in the United States, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.

SIMCO is a single-purpose entity whose parent organization is Bechtel National, Inc. SIMCO successfully completed contract transition activities, and the U.S. Department of Energy granted authorization for the company to assume management and operations responsibility on Saturday, February 4.

“We successfully completed the transition and kept WIPP’s ongoing mission of safe nuclear waste disposal the highest priority,” said Ken Harrawood, SIMCO president and program manager. “We thank the team at WIPP, many who are longtime employees, for welcoming us and supporting the transition.  Our joint team is dedicated to safely disposing of the decades-old waste and fulfilling WIPP’s mission.”

SIMCO successfully onboarded nearly 1,100 employees with no workforce reductions. Union contracts and vendor agreements are continuing without interruption.

Photo: A shipment of transuranic waste arrives at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. (Department of Energy photo)

WIPP is a system of disposal rooms mined out of the ancient Salado salt formation more than 2,000 feet underground near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Originally designed by a team that included Bechtel, WIPP has operated since 1999, accepting waste from 22 government sites across the U.S. The waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, soil, and other items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other human-made radioactive elements, known as transuranic or TRU waste. The waste has been accumulating since the 1940s as part of the nation’s nuclear defense program.

The Department of Energy selected SIMCO in July of 2022 and, following resolution of protests by unsuccessful bidders, issued the notice to proceed in early November. The work scope is valued at up to $3 billion over 10 years if all options are exercised.

Key Contact

About Bechtel

Bechtel is a trusted engineering, construction and project management partner to industry and government. Differentiated by the quality of our people and our relentless drive to deliver the most successful outcomes, we align our capabilities to our customers’ objectives to create a lasting positive impact. Since 1898, we have helped customers complete more than 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents that have created jobs, grown economies, improved the resiliency of the world's infrastructure, increased access to energy, resources, and vital services, and made the world a safer, cleaner place.  

Bechtel serves the Energy; Infrastructure; Manufacturing & Technology; Mining & Metals; and Nuclear, Security & Environmental markets. Our services span from initial planning and investment, through start-up and operations.

RSS icon Add the Bechtel News Feed to my RSS reader.