WTP contractors resolve claims regarding project at Hanford Site
22 September 2020
BNI, AECOM Energy and Construction Inc., and Waste Treatment Completion Company LLC together agreed to pay a settlement to the United States
Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) today announces that the contractors at the Department of Energy’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state have reached a settlement with the Department of Justice and four plaintiffs that resolves numerous claims, including claims regarding past craft labor downtime issues.
Under the terms of the settlement, BNI, AECOM Energy & Construction Inc. (part of Amentum), and Waste Treatment Completion Company LLC together agreed to pay the United States $57,750,000 and to place an independent compliance reviewer at WTP for three years. As part of the settlement, the contractors expressly deny any liability under the False Claims Act or any other cause of action.
Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security & Environmental global business unit, said, “As a company, we felt it was in the best interest of the project and our customer to resolve this matter so that we can avoid the distractions and expenses of a protracted legal proceeding, move beyond these issues, and fully focus on completing our work at such a critical time for WTP. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of the project’s employees, the contractors have made significant progress toward remediation of one of our country’s oldest and most complex environmental waste problems. With this matter behind us, our team can continue its significant progress toward achieving hot commissioning by 2023.”
Additional Information on the Hanford Waste and Immobilization Treatment Plant
The Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant is a first-of-a-kind complex of facilities designed to safely treat some 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical wastes currently stored in 177 underground tanks at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, near Richland, Washington. The waste is a byproduct of plutonium production and refining for the U.S. nuclear weapons program that began during World War II and ended in 1987. The plant will be the world’s largest and most complex radioactive waste treatment facility.
In the first phase, low-activity waste will be piped from the tanks to the Low-Activity Waste vitrification facility, where it will be mixed with sand and other materials, melted, and poured into stainless steel containers. The mixture will cool into glass, immobilizing the waste and preventing it from leaking. The containers will be moved to a special disposal facility at the Hanford Site.
Construction of the Low-Activity Waste facility, an analytical laboratory, and 14 support structures is complete. The complex is now in a multi-year commissioning phase that will culminate in actual vitrification of waste.
Recent milestones include:
- Chemists and scientific instrumentation recently completed their move into the Analytical Laboratory, where they will confirm that the immobilized glass produced by the Low-Activity Waste Facility meets regulatory requirements. The chemists are the first permanent plant employees to work in the Lab. Read more.
- Startup testing of the Laboratory is complete.
- An annex and control room have opened in the Low-Activity Waste Facility, where commissioning technicians – in permanent plant positions – monitor and control systems throughout the plant. Read more.
- Six large vessels were delivered and installed in the Effluent Management Facility where they will help process secondary waste created during the vitrification process inside the Low-Activity Waste Facility. Read more.
About Bechtel National, Inc.
Bechtel National, Inc. (BNI), is a leading engineering, procurement, construction, and project management contractor for the U.S. government. BNI’s successes include many large, first-of-a-kind signature projects in management of federally owned sites, environmental restoration, defense, space, and energy, as well as national and homeland security. BNI is a member of the Bechtel group of companies