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Parsons proposes new early deadline for Salt Waste Processing Facility

July 28, 2018 GMT

Parsons, the Salt Waste Processing Facility contractor, has submitted a proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy that would establish a new early completion date for the project, a DOE spokesperson said Thursday.

The exact schedule, though, is currently being finalized, and the DOE is reviewing the proposal as a whole for time- and money-related specifics, Savannah River Site manager Michael Budney said earlier this week.

The overarching project deadline – commissioning and startup by January 2021, described by a federal project manager as a promise to Congress – remains in place, according to DOE information.

Parsons’ submission lays out a completion target ahead of 2021 that would be rewarded if realized, a DOE spokesperson said.

Once online, the SWPF is expected to process millions of gallons of radioactive waste currently stored in aging underground tanks. The facility is meant to bolster the liquid waste mission at SRS.

SWPF construction concluded two years ago. The DOE signed off on it shortly after.

The plant is now going through testing.

The SWPF will not be online by a previously agreed to early startup date of December, according to DOE officials. The “change proposal,” to use Budney’s words, is seemingly a follow-up to the missed opportunity.

“Realized risks,” a DOE spokesperson reiterated Thursday, have contributed to SWPF delay. Approximately 460 valve controllers in the facility need replacing after a small batch failed during non-radioactive trials.

As of Thursday, more than half of those necessary repairs and replacements have been completed, a spokesperson said. All replacement parts are currently in-hand, Budney has said.

In March, the DOE sent Parsons project manager Frank Sheppard Jr. a cutting “notice of concern.” The notice accused the contractor of “degrading performance,” poor management and lackluster safety practices, which the DOE said significantly impacted “project delivery.”

Inquiries made to Sheppard on Wednesday about the new timeline have not been returned.