Dept. of Energy authorizes SIMCO to begin operations work Feb. 4
CARLSBAD, New Mexico — On Feb. 4, Salado Isolation Mining Contractors, or SIMCO, will assume full responsibility for management and operation of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) that performs a vital mission for the U.S. Department of Energy’s national nuclear cleanup.
SIMCO is the company chosen by DOE to manage and operate WIPP, a work scope valued at up to $3 billion over 10 years if all options are exercised. In early November, the company began a 90-day effort to safely transition the management and operations for the WIPP to a new contract.
“We appreciated the incumbent workforce and local communities’ support and collaboration that ensured a smooth contract transition,” said Mark Bollinger, DOE’s acting manager for its Carlsbad Field Office that oversees WIPP. “The WIPP team did a great job to maintain its focus on safe and uninterrupted plant operations throughout the contract transition.”
SIMCO’s authorization to begin work under the new contract comes after DOE accepted the company’s ‘Declaration of Readiness’ for operations. The Declaration of Readiness capped off SIMCO’s transition effort that encompassed a comprehensive ‘People, Plant, Paper’ approach. This included a series of detailed activities for onboarding nearly 1,100 employees and people to the new contract; performing more than 110 plant inspections and program reviews; and transferring more than 5,500 existing procedures, policies, and documents to SIMCO. The company also met and consulted with dozens of local community leaders and elected officials throughout the transition.
“I’m looking forward to working alongside everyone and continuing safe and efficient operations at WIPP to support the DOE’s national cleanup mission,” said Ken Harrawood, SIMCO’s President and Program Manager at WIPP. “Our team is excited to begin a new era and partnership here at WIPP with our employees, local communities, and stakeholders.”
SIMCO’s core values of safety, quality, productivity, and cost effectiveness guided its approach during contract transition and will carry over into its operations under the new contract.
SIMCO is a single-purpose entity comprised of Bechtel National, Inc. SIMCO will utilize Los Alamos Technical Associates as a New Mexico-based small business teaming subcontractor.
About the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
WIPP, the United States’ only deep geological repository for nuclear waste, is a system of disposal rooms mined out of an ancient salt bed more than 2,000 feet underground. It has operated since 1999, accepting waste from 22 government sites across the U.S. The waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, soil, and other items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other human-made radioactive elements, known as transuranic or TRU waste. The waste has been accumulating since the 1940s as part of the nation’s nuclear defense program.
About Bechtel National, Inc.
Bechtel National, the U.S. government services arm of Bechtel Corp., has more than 44 years of experience successfully managing DOE sites in Washington, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Through Bechtel’s global operations, the team brings world class mine construction, safety, and maintenance experience including cutting edge design and operations knowledge, and methods and tools to improve safety, schedule, and cost.