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LANL contractor nets $8.5M fee for legacy cleanup

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By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos National Laboratory’s contractor in charge of cleaning up legacy (pre 1999) waste at sites on the lab’s 40-square-miles of property, received incentive pay this year.

Los Alamos National Security, which works under the Los Alamos Environmental Management Field office, collected $8,458,736 of the $10,083,579 fee that was available.

EM-LA gave the contractor high marks for regulatory performance and management and successfully completing a test on a network of extraction and injection wells put in place to try and stop the spread of a cancerous chemical into a regional aquifer 1,000 feet below Mortandad Canyon.

The chemical, chromium-6, is a known cancer causing chemical. From the 1950s through the 1970s, it was used as a corrosion inhibitor in cooling towers at a LANL power plant, and along with the water in the cooling towers, it was regularly flushed out into the canyons.

The chromium plume was discovered in 2005. The contractor was also rewarded for completing soil clean up in Upper Los Alamos Canyon. In 2017, the contractor also processed 60 drums of remediated nitrate salts.

For quality of cleanup, the LANS received a score of “good.” For scheduling, regulatory compliance and cost control, LANS received a score of “very good” and for management LANS received a score of ”excellent.”

Last year, LANS was awarded 90 percent of its performance fee, receiving $9,133,211 of an available. Last year’s scorecard concentrated on much the same objectives, which included the preparation phases of halting the chromium plume and the preparing the 60 nitrate drums for remediation.

The lab has come a long way since 2014, when a waste drum, that wasn’t legacy waste, it sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad ruptured because it was not packed probably. In a Dec.18, 2014 letter to LANL Director Charles McMillan, Contracting officer Robert Poole told McMillan that because of the incident, LANS’ fixed fee of $17,147,045 and its incentive fee of $18,164,435 was reduced to $6.2 million.

“The actions taken in this letter are in direct response to issues of significant operational and cost magnitude identified in the Los Alamos National Security, LLC Performance Evaluation Report for FY2014,” Poole said in the letter.

The radiological accident is considered to be a key factor in why the DOE did not extend LANS’ management and operations contract, and is currently looking for other contractors to manage the lab.