Final RFP issued for $6.4-billion cleanup contract

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management on May 27 issued a final request for proposals for the cleanup of the Idaho National Laboratory site, near Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the Fort Saint Vrain facility near Platteville, Colo. The 10-year contract for the projects—collectively called the Idaho Cleanup Project—has an estimated ceiling of about $6.4 billion.

Cleanup of Santa Susana Field Lab site to resume

An aerial view of the Radioactive Materials Handling Facility at California’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory, with the DOE-owned buildings numbered. Photo: DOE

Under an agreement with the state of California, the Department of Energy will soon resume environmental cleanup of the Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site in Ventura, Calif., about 36 miles northwest of Los Angeles. In a legal order signed on May 19 with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the department has agreed to demolish 10 of the remaining DOE-owned buildings within the ETEC, including several of the most contaminated buildings.

DOE awards $13-billion tank closure contract

The Department of Energy has awarded a $13-billion tank closure contract for services at its Hanford Site, near Richland, Wash. The 10-year contract was awarded on May 14 to Hanford Works Restoration, a joint venture of BWXT Technologies and Fluor Corporation that also includes DBD and INTERA, two preselected small businesses that provide specialized modeling and regulatory expertise, respectively.

Hanford Works Restoration will take over from Hanford’s current tank waste contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), whose contract expires at the end of September. The WRPS contract includes a clause that allows the DOE to end the contract earlier to align with a 60-day transition to the new contract.

ARPA-E projects to receive $27 million in DOE grants

The Department of Energy is awarding $27 million in funding for nine projects through the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy’s (ARPA-E) Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) program. These projects will work to develop digital twin technology to reduce operations and maintenance (O&M) costs in the next generation of nuclear power plants in order to make them more economical, flexible, and efficient, according to the DOE.

DOE issues FOA for advanced reactor demos

Reactor designers and others ready to invest in advanced nuclear technology now have a defined route to apply for cost-share funding, including $160 million in initial funding to build two reactors within the next five to seven years. On May 14, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP).

Uncertainties with WTP persist, GAO says

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has not followed best practices or DOE policy in pursuing alternatives for pretreating radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Site, near Richland, Wash., according to a report released on May 12 by the Government Accountability Office. The DOE has spent over $400 million since 2013 looking into alternatives to pretreating Hanford’s low-activity waste (LAW), yet the department has not properly defined a mission need or a life-cycle cost estimate for its preferred alternative, according to the report.

Bill introduced to protect critical electric infrastructure

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and James Risch (R., Idaho) have introduced legislation to bolster safeguards for U.S. critical electric infrastructure. Dubbed the Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, the bill updates provisions in the Federal Power Act and restricts federal disclosures of certain sensitive energy information.

Department of Energy launches $230 million Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the launch of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) within the Office of Nuclear Energy. ARDP is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the U.S.

Feature Story

Waste Management Conference: Focused on the future

2020 Waste Management Conference plenary speakers included (from left) Michael Lempke, of Huntington Ingalls Industries, William Magwood, of the NEA, and the DOE’s William “Ike” White. Photo: WM Symposia/Flash Gordon.

The 2020 Waste Management Conference, held March 8–12 in Phoenix, Ariz., kicked off just days before the World Health Organization declared the spread of the novel coronavirus a pandemic. When the conference began, it was still unclear how extensive the coronavirus outbreak would be, and meeting organizers later learned that two attendees were tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in the days following the meeting. Fortunately, neither of the attendees tested positive.

National Academies: Disposing of surplus plutonium at WIPP viable

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s early-stage plan to dilute and dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is technically viable, according to an April 30 release from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Two projects selected for DOE funding awards

The Department of Energy announced on April 28 that the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) and the Southern Nuclear Development LLC (SND) would receive funding for their advanced nuclear technology development projects. The two awards—one to support site preparation for a future domestic advanced reactor demonstration project and the other for an advanced reactor regulatory licensing grant—have a total value of $5.4 million.

DOE issues broad nuclear energy strategy

Brouillette

The long-awaited report from the Trump administration’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group promises immediate support for the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, but it doesn’t stop there. “This is a road map for what we think needs to be done to not only revitalize, but reestablish American leadership for this entire industry,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette as he introduced the report during a press call on April 23.

DOE offers $12 million for fusion QIS research

The Department of Energy will provide $12 million for research in quantum information science (QIS) for fusion energy and plasma science. The research is expected to focus on a range of topics, including the design of quantum computing algorithms to solve problems in fusion energy, the development of quantum sensing diagnostics for fusion experiments, and the formation of novel quantum materials using high-energy-density plasmas.

DOE explores cost-sharing program for fusion reactors

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science is inviting input on its plan to develop a cost-share program in fusion reactor technologies. A request for information was published in the Federal Register, inviting interested parties to comment on the topical areas, program objectives, eligibility requirements, program organization and structure, public and private roles and responsibilities, funding modalities, and assessment criteria of such an initiative.

Contractor sought for new Hanford facilities

The DOE has issued an RFI for operation of the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste Facilities at Hanford's Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. Photo: DOE

The startup of tank waste treatment activities at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant took a step forward in April with the Department of Energy’s issuing a request for information for the operation of the WTP Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) facilities. According to the DOE, the RFI solicits input, via capability statements, from potential contractors with the specialized capabilities necessary to meet all of the major elements of scope for the upcoming competitive procurement for the operation of WTP DFLAW facilities, which will treat and vitrify for disposal low-activity waste from underground storage tanks at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

DOE issues RFP for Savannah River contract

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has issued a draft request for proposal for the stand-alone management and operations (M&O) contract for Savannah River National Laboratory, located at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C. The five-year contract, with possible award terms of up to five additional years, is anticipated to have a value of approximately $381 million a year.

ARPA-E awards $32 million for fusion energy research

The winners of $32 million in funding for 15 projects to develop timely, commercially viable fusion energy were announced by the Department of Energy in April. As part of the DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy’s (ARPA-E) Breakthroughs Enabling THermonuclear-fusion Energy (BETHE) program, the projects will work to increase the number and performance levels of lower-cost fusion concepts.

DOE to provide $16 million for isotope R&D

The Department of Energy is awarding up to $16 million in new funding to advance research and development of isotope production. The funding opportunity is part of a federal program that produces critical isotopes that are otherwise unavailable or in short supply for U.S. science, medicine, and industry. The effort is aimed at sustaining longstanding U.S. leadership in the vital field of isotope production, research, and development, according to the DOE.