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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS

Fluor Gets Extension Pact for Uranium Site Cleanup

November 21, 2000|From Times Staff and Wire Services

Fluor Corp. said Monday the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the company's Fluor Fernald environmental cleanup unit a $2.4-billion, 10-year contract to manage the final closing of the former uranium-processing facility.

The Aliso Viejo engineering and construction company has been the main cleanup contractor at the Fernald Environmental Management Project near Cincinnati since 1992.

The company said it has already cut more than a decade from the original cleanup schedule and reduced taxpayer costs for the project by $3.1 billion.

The value of services is expected to be about $290 million a year and is based on government funding. Fluor will manage the cleanup with help from subcontractors it hires.

The final fee from the Energy Department will be determined by cost and schedule performance, Fluor said. But the contract could give it about $120 million if work is completed between 2006 and 2008, company spokesman Jeff Wagner said.

Since 1992, the company said, Fluor has made "substantive, visible cleanup progress" that includes the safe shutdown of the site two years and $7 million under budget, the demolition of 90 of 278 buildings and the treatment of more than 6.5 billion gallons of contaminated water.

But the project has also brought Fluor some headaches.

Early in the contract, federal auditors criticized Fluor for wasting money or failing to manage some aspects of the work properly. In 1996, a pilot plant for using high heat to reduce radioactive wastes to glass chunks for long-term disposal caught fire and had to be shut.

Last year, though, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said the Fluor-led Fernald cleanup team had generally performed well.

Times staff writer Marc Ballon and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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