August 3, 1997 in City

Murray Wants Review Of Hanford Managers Explosion, Other Concerns Prompt Request

Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray wants a review of the new management structure at the Hanford nuclear reservation, in part because of a May explosion at a plutonium plant.

The new Project Hanford Management Contract is a 5-year, performance-based contract supervised by Fluor Daniel Hanford.

Murray’s request is prompted by several concerns and events that have surfaced in the past several months, including the May explosion at the Plutonium Finishing Plant.

“I believe it is time to undertake a comprehensive review of the Project Hanford Management Contract so we can ensure the contract is a success,” Murray wrote on July 25 to Energy Secretary Federico Pena.

Hank Hatch, Fluor Daniel Hanford’s president, said the request was appropriate.

“We welcome a review of this sort,” Hatch said.

Murray, D-Wash., praised the completion of several projects ahead of schedule and under budget.

“However, these great successes become overshadowed when an event like the plutonium reclamation facility explosion is mishandled,” Murray wrote.

Murray is concerned about the poor response of Hanford officials after the explosion. The Energy Department has been sharply critical of the post-explosion response, and Fluor Daniel has publicly apologized to workers at the plant.

Murray also wants to review safety issues pertaining to the explosion and other accidents, problems in getting a safety management plan approved, overhead costs, job creation and the ability to meet cleanup deadlines.

Hatch believes the complicated switch from a traditional DOE contract to the Project Hanford Management Contract concept has “gone basically well.”

The new contract has been criticized for increasing “indirect” costs - which cover overhead and shared equipment and service costs.

Estimates made in March put the figure for such costs at $345 million for fiscal 1997, which was $26 million higher than Westinghouse Hanford Co.’s final year in fiscal 1996.

But Hatch said Fluor will end up well under the March estimate when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. “We won’t exceed $300 million,” he said.

Hatch said injury statistics indicate safety on the site has improved. “Fewer people are being hurt on site,” he said.

Murray’s letter also raised concerns about complaints her office has received about a recent 25-year, performance-based contract to overhaul and run Hanford’s steam plants.

The complaints said the contract with Johnson Controls “is unfair, does not reduce costs to the government, and is being improperly carried out,” Murray wrote.

Johnson Controls has a $160 million, 25-year contract in which its fees are directly tied to performance goals. DOE believes it will save $108 million over 25 years with the setup.

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