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Mismanagement in nuclear decommissioning industry

IG reports question management of contractors at nuclear sites, I Watch News, By Corbin Hiar, 21 July 11, The Center for Public Integrity   Serious contractor-related problems at facilities that handle nuclear material have been disclosed by two new audits.

The most serious issues were raised in a report by the Department of Energy’s inspector general on the decontamination and decommissioning of K-25 , a massive World War II-era nuclear enrichment facility that is a part of the East Tennessee Technical Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The audit found the K-25 project is $257 million over its initial estimated cost of $460 million and could potentially run some eight years behind schedule at a total cost of up to $1.2 billion.

……The sprawling ETTP has been shut down since 1987. It is full of contaminated buildings once used to provide America’s Cold War nuclear arsenal with uranium. The half-mile long, U-shaped K-25 building is the biggest of these at more than 2 million square feet. It was built in 1943 and provided some of the uranium-235 used in the “Little Boy” atom bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Dismantling K-25 has proven to be a much more difficult task for DOE and the contractor it first hired in 1997 to complete the project, the Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC.

The decommissioning and decontamination of the massive building involves removing equipment containing fissile material, segregating asbestos, purging machines of radioactive gases, encapsulating equipment and piping used to enrich uranium in foam, and disposing of thousands of converters, motors, and compressors. This task has been complicated by the dangerously deteriorated state of the building, a fact that auditors noted years before the work had even begun. A 1998 report about ETTP warned that DOE could incur $34.5 million in unnecessary surveillance and maintenance costs by delaying the dismantling of old contaminated buildings like K-25 until 2002. As it turned out, Bechtel Jacobs did not begin work on K-25 until 2004, a year after it told DOE auditors that the number of damaged roof panels had increased by 546 percent and the number of damaged floor panels had almost doubled……

URS Corporation and CH2M HILL Companies Ltd. signed a $2.2 billion, four-year deal to take over all of the ETTP work at end of July.Problems with contractors were also found in the IG’s review of the Sandia National Laboratories , headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M. Sandia has run the labs since shortly after their creation in 1948, at which time the corporation was owned by AT&T Inc. It is now a wholly owned subsidiary of defense firm Lockheed Martin Corporation. According to the report, Sandia does not have adequate controls in place to ensure that its efforts do not unfairly benefit its parent company…….

http://www.iwatchnews.org/2011/07/20/5283/ig-reports-question-management-contractors-nuclear-sites
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July 21, 2011 - Posted by | decommission reactor, USA

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