americium, April Report WIPP, AREVA, Babcock & Wilcox, Carlsbad, cumbria, Department of Energy, France, Hanford, Hanford whistleblower, Idaho National Lab, New Mexico, nuclear power, nuclear waste, nuclear weapons, Oak Ridge, Pantex, plutonium, plutonium contamination, radiation leak, Safety Culture, Safety Training, Sellafield, Texas, Three Mile Island, UK, URS, US DOE, USA, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, whisteblowers, WIPP, WIPP safety, WIPP whistleblower, Y-12 National Security Complex
Who runs WIPP Nuclear Dump? That is, who are the damning allegations, found in the new U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management, “Accident Investigation Report, Phase 1 Radiological Release Event at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on February 14, 2014“, April 2014, really against? http://energy.gov/em/downloads/radiological-release-accident-investigation-report NB: Release was of plutonium and americium.
WIPP is run by Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC (NWP), which is a URS-led (URS Energy and Construction, Inc.) consortium including URS partner Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group, Inc. (B&W) Technical Services Group, and major subcontractor, approx. 90% French govt owned, AREVA Federal Services.
Sellafield, UK, is run by a URS, AREVA, AMEC, consortium called “Nuclear Management Partners.” (URS claims to lead it): “Continuing failures at Sellafield, where staff were recently asked to stay at home because of heightened levels of radioactivity, will be a significant concern for the government,…” See: “Sellafield consortium under fire for failing to disclose ‘damning’ audit, Parliamentary committee report criticises leaders of Europe’s biggest nuclear plant for lax financial controls“, by Jamie Doward, The Observer, Sunday 9 February 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/09/sellafield-nuclear-consortium-audit Sellafield is, more or less, the UK equivalent of US Hanford, but it was claimed that the radiation was found to be “natural” radon — yeh, right…
URS has already become notorious of late, for having fired two safety whistleblowers at Hanford, one of whom was transferred from WIPP to Hanford (see more on this below). Babcock & Wilcox have the questionable achievement of being present at WIPP and Three Mile Island: “In 1978 B&W designed and built the nuclear reactor that was involved in the Three Mile Island accident“. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babcock_%26_Wilcox
URS and Babcock & Wilcox are both present as part of the BEA consortium, at Idaho National Labs, where there was plutonium contamination of workers, in November of 2011, which appears to have involved safety issues similar to some pointed out in the new WIPP report: Apparent failures at training-safety culture and apparent failures with ventilation. See: “Plutonium Contamination in the Zero Power Physics Reactor Facility at the Idaho National Laboratory, November 8, 2011,” U.S. Department of Energy Office of Health, Safety and Security, Accident Investigation Report, January 2012 http://energy.gov/hss/downloads/investigation-november-8-2011-plutonium-contamination-zero-power-physics-reactor For an account of what the workers themselves experienced, in 2011, see: http://flyingcuttlefish.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/how-it-feels-to-be-in-nuke-lab-accident/
Why does the US gov continue to re-employ contractors who have safety failings? Could it be because of a propensity of these contractors to challenge their removal as contractors? Babcock & Wilcox, URS, et. al. challenged their removal as contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas (see further down).
From the Executive Summary, of the April 2014 WIPP Report:
Given the apparent challenges facing whistleblowers at WIPP and Hanford, both employed and fired by URS, the following statement from the WIPP report should surprise no-one:
“There is a lack of a questioning attitude, reluctance to bring up and document issues, and an acceptance and normalization of degraded equipment and conditions. This is supported by the 2012 Safety Conscious Work Environment (SCWE) survey results which indicated a reluctance to report issues to management, indicating a chilled work environment. Execution of the NWP Contractor Assurance System (CAS) in accordance with DOE O 226.1B, Implementation of Department of Energy Oversight Policy, was ineffective. Execution of the CAS did not identify precursors to this event or the unacceptable conditions and behaviors documented in this Phase 1 report.” http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/04/f15/Final%20WIPP%20Rad%20Release%20Phase%201%2004%2022%202014_0.pdf
Now recall that Donna Busche was moved from WIPP to Hanford. In her lawsuit against URS and Bechtel, it is stated:
“…URS and BNI management viewed Busche as a roadblock to meeting deadlines, rather than as a valuable check against noncompliance, and managers sought ways to retaliate against her and to circumvent her efficacy.” (“DONNA BUSCHE, an individual, Plaintiff, vs.URS ENERGY & CONSTRUCTION, INC., an Ohio corporation, and BECHTEL NATIONAL, INC. a Nevada corporation, Defendants“. See entire complaint here: http://www.hanfordchallenge.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2013.2.12-Busche-Complaint.pdf
Safety Whistleblowers Fired by URS at Hanford (Congressional Hearings):
“It is important to note that the GAO has found that safety and technical problems at the WTP are directly a result of mismanagement by Bechtel and URS… There are many, many dedicated employees in both Bechtel and URS. It is the upper management that is at fault due to their self-serving focus on near-term profits. But there is nothing wrong with corporations making money until the focus on money trumps safety, quality, and ethics. Then you have a problem“. (Emphasis added) Excerpt from Statement by “Dr. WALTER L. TAMOSAITIS, P.E., BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SENATE HOMELAND SECURITY SUBCOMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL AND CONTRACTING OVERSIGHT ON ‘WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION AT THE HANFORD NUCLEAR SITE”, March 11, 2013 Full statement here: http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/download/?id=99C982C8-1583-486B-A926-602322A936F1
“The pattern of reprisal at Hanford is historical, well-documented, and has gotten progressively worse. It is not just about individual employees who get wrongfully terminated. It is about a broken nuclear safety culture that, if unaddressed, risks silencing employees who might otherwise reveal a nuclear safety defect that could lead to loss of life, contamination of the environment, or lead to a nuclear catastrophe.
The people before you today, Dr. Tamosaitis and Donna Busche … are acknowledged national experts. Donna Busche is listed as a ‘key personnel’ on the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) project, one of only a few people whom the Department of Energy (DOE) reserves the right to approve the contractor’s hiring or termination… Both Ms. Busche and Dr. Tamosaitis have long and unblemished careers spanning 44 years for Dr. Tamosaitis and 26 years for Ms. Busche,… Ms. Busche and Dr. Tamosaitis were considered experts by their employers and were highly-compensated, essential employees until they took their concerns to contractor management officials and to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB). That is when the contractors began their campaigns of isolation, removal, harassment and eventually, termination. This is a textbook campaign companies wage against truth-tellers, and it should not be countenanced at a federally-funded nuclear facility – the most contaminated of its kind in the United States.
Ms. Busche and Dr. Tamosaitis are not the only ones. There are many other engineers, scientists and craft employees who have been fired, harassed and silenced at Hanford…
DOE’s failure to listen to, to address the problems raised by, and to protect the highest echelon of nuclear safety experts at the WTP has put this multi-billion dollar much needed project at risk. As a result, no foreseeable treatment options exist for the high level radioactive waste that continues to leaks from Hanford nuclear waste storage tanks. Worse, there are disturbing questions about the viability of the project to meet required safety and quality regulations. This is not only bad business, as documented by the GAO and others, but threatens the welfare of the community and generations to come.” (Emphasis Added) Excerpt from: “STATEMENT OF TOM CARPENTER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HANFORD CHALLENGE, BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SENATE HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE SUBCOMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL AND CONTRACTING OVERSIGHT, ‘Whistleblower Retaliation at the Hanford Nuclear Site’, March 11, 2014” Full statement here: http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/download/?id=0BFE03B3-C74A-427E-A000-52BAB3B9C5C1
Some other Concerns About Safety Possibly Involving URS
“The I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed in August 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145. In 2003, URS had been retained by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to conduct a fatigue evaluation and a redundancy analysis of the bridge. Lawsuits filed in 2008 and 2009 cite the company with negligence. In 2010 these lawsuits were settled out of court without the finding of negligence or wrongdoing on the part of URS… The Martin Olav Sabo Bridge over Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis experienced failure of two if its longest support cables on February 20, 2012. URS Corporation was the design consultant for the bridge that was completed in 2007. These failures resulted in closures of Hiawatha Avenue and the adjacent light rail between Mall of America and downtown Minneapolis for safety precautions while support structures were put in place. Rail service was restored after four days while Hiawatha Avenue road traffic remained closed for staging of construction equipment. This failure occurred less than 18 months after URS Corporation settled for $52.4 million in response to lawsuits brought by victims of the Minneapolis I-35W bridge collapse.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URS_Corporation (References and more at link)
Busche Removal From WIPP to Hanford
Longer excerpt from: “DONNA BUSCHE, an individual, Plaintiff, vs. URS ENERGY & CONSTRUCTION, INC., an Ohio corporation, and BECHTEL NATIONAL, INC. a Nevada corporation, Defendants“:
“In June 2008, the WIPP received a drum containing transuranic waste that read 270 millirem neutrons per hour on contact, which exceeded the waste acceptance criteria for that facility under the RCRA permit. After performing an unreviewed safety question determination, Busche determined that the drum was safe to leave in place. However, the drum was still a violation of the Technical Safety Requirement (“TSR”). Upon convening a meeting of the Plant Review Committee, the committee, including Busche, notified the Department of Energy of the violation. Approximately three months later, Busche was called into a meeting with the senior DOE manager, Dave Moody, and senior URS manager, Farok Sharif, and was asked to rescind the report of the TSR violation. When she refused, Busche was removed from her position and reassigned to the Hanford site of URS… Beginning in 2010, the company’s focus moved away from nuclear and environmental safety compliance and toward meeting deadlines regardless of the quality of the work. In this atmosphere, URS and BNI management viewed Busche as a roadblock to meeting deadlines, rather than as a valuable check against noncompliance, and managers sought ways to retaliate against her and to circumvent her efficacy.” (Emphasis added) Read the entire complaint here: http://www.hanfordchallenge.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2013.2.12-Busche-Complaint.pdf
Babcock & Wilcox, URS et. al. Challenge Loss of Contract
Is this why the US Gov keep getting stuck with them? They don’t want to deal with the being challenged when they give another contractor a chance?
“NPP is a limited liability corporation (LLC) comprised of resources from: Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group, Inc.; URS Energy & Construction, Inc.; Northrop Grumman Technical Services, Inc.; and Honeywell International, Inc. CNS is an LLC comprised of resources from: Bechtel National, Inc.; Lockheed Martin Services, Inc.; ATK Launch Systems, Inc.; and SOC, LLC.” http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661586.pdf
“Nuclear Production Partners LLC (NPP), of Lynchburg, Virginia, and Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions LLC (INPS), of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, protest the Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) award of a contract to Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (CNS), of Reston, Virginia, pursuant to request for proposals (RFP) No. DE-SOL-0001458 to perform services associated with maintaining and securing the nation’s nuclear weapons. NPP and INPS challenge various aspects of the agency’s evaluation process, including assertions that the agency failed to comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation’s (FAR) requirements for cost realism analysis; failed to evaluate cost savings in a manner consistent with the terms of the solicitation; failed to evaluate other portions of the offerors’ technical/management proposals; failed to properly consider an alleged conflict of interest; and failed to properly consider an alleged Procurement Integrity Act violation.
We sustain the protests in part and deny them in part.” http://www.gao.gov/products/B-407948,B-407948.2,B-407948.3,B-407948.4,B-407948.5,B-407948.6,B-407948.7,B-407948.8
Matter of: Nuclear Production Partners LLC
File: B-407948.10, B-407948.11
Date: February 27, 2014
Kenneth B. Weckstein, Esq., Tammy Hopkins, Esq., Pamela A. Reynolds, Esq., Michael D. Maloney, Esq., and Aiden J. Delgado, Esq., Brown Rudnick LLP, for the protester. Marcia G. Madsen, Esq., Cameron S. Hamrick, Esq., David F. Dowd, Esq., Luke Levasseur, Esq., Michelle E. Litteken, Esq., and Polly A. Myers, Esq., Mayer Brown LLP, for Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC, the intervenor. Charmaine A. Howson, Esq., H. Jack Shearer, Esq., Young H. Cho, Esq., Shelley P. Turner, Esq., JiSan Lopez, Esq., and Michael Ling, Esq., Department of Energy, for the agency. Glenn G. Wolcott, Esq., and Sharon L. Larkin, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.
1. Agency’s conclusion that a portion of protester’s proposed cost savings were not feasible did not constitute a significant weakness or deficiency that the agency was required to address during discussions, and agency reasonably limited the scope of its corrective action to address the specific defects in its prior source selection process.
2. Protester’s multiple complaints regarding the agency’s evaluation and bases for its source selection decision reflect mere disagreement with the agency’s judgments and provide no basis for sustaining the protest“. Read entire document here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661586.pdf
“B&W: No more protests of $22 billion Y-12, Pantex contract, POSTED AT 5:40 PM MARCH 19, 2014, BY JOHN HUOTARI
Note: This story was last updated at 8:43 a.m. March 20.
After more than one year and three protests, a team led by the Babcock and Wilcox Co. will no longer oppose the transition to a new contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas“. Read the entire story here: http://oakridgetoday.com/2014/03/19/protests-22-billion-y-12-pantex-contract/