IRVINE — Fluor Corp., which two months ago nailed down the largest environmental cleanup contract yet awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy, confirmed Monday that it will not bid on a second DOE contract estimated to be worth $800 million.
In August, the international construction and engineering services company beat out 200 other companies for a $2.2-billion contract to clean up the 1,050-acre site of a former uranium fuel plant in Fernald, Ohio.
Analysts suggested that Fluor's capture of the Fernald contract would have worked against it in bidding on the second cleanup, which involves plutonium waste at a DOE site in Hanford, Wash. The plutonium was used in atomic weapons production from 1943 until 1987, when the plant was shut down.
"You just don't like to get greedy in these things," said Gail Brice, president of Brice EnviroVentures in Newport Beach, which specializes in brokering environmental contracts for companies.
Deborah Land, spokeswoman for Fluor Corp., said Monday that "the decision was ultimately reached between Fluor Daniel and DOE for us to focus our efforts on the Fernald site."
At its peak, the five-year contract will involve 5,000 workers at the Fernald site, Land said. It also includes an option for three more years of work worth an additional $1.8 billion.
As of Dec. 1, Fluor Daniel Inc., the company's main subsidiary, will take over full site responsibilities in Fernald, Land said. "It takes a lot of time and effort to develop these proposals. We decided we'd better put all our efforts into Fernald at this time," she said.
Brice noted that the DOE likes to spread its contracts around. "It's called sharing the wealth," she said. Having just gotten a huge contract, Fluor may have decided that the second job would probably go to a competitor anyway, Brice added.
Once Fluor acquires experience by managing the cleanup site at Fernald, it will probably be in an even stronger position to bid for other DOE contracts.
"Obviously, there are 15 other sites (after Hanford), and we certainly will look at those," Land said.
In 1990, the Energy Department created the Environmental Restoration Management Contract program to clean up 17 atomic-weapons production sites over the next 30 years.
Fluor has been building its presence in environmental projects since creating its Environmental Services Unit in 1989. Of the company's $8 billion in new contracts so far this year, about half are environmental in nature, whether cleanups or modifications of existing plants to meet new regulations.
The next sizable DOE contract after Hanford will probably be at a site in Rocky Flats, Colo. Bidding on that job is not expected to begin for a year.
"Certainly we think we'll be well-positioned for Rocky Flats," Land said.