December 10, 2014
Jack R. Craig, Jr.
Re: Transition of Legacy Clean-up Work at Los Alamos National Laboratory
Please consider these preliminary comments and requests concerning the transition of legacy clean-up work at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
First, we request that alternatives to the current Department of Energy contract process be considered. The privatization of the nuclear weapons complex may be failing the U.S. taxpayer. Cost overruns plague the current system. Different variations of the same contractors still continue to line up for different variations of the same contracts. Yet, with a few exceptions, cleanup only crawls along. Many of the sites are still contaminated decades after the work was completed. And now, WIPP is shut down.
We ask that alternatives such as looking to governmental agencies instead of private contractors be tasked with cleanup at Los Alamos. For instance, could the Army Corp. of Engineers do the job?
We also strongly request that alternatives to “No-Bid” and “Cost-Plus” contracts be considered first. Recently, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain spoke to prohibit the Pentagon from awarding cost-plus contracts, arguing such deals encourage nefariousness. (DefenseNews.com, December 5, 2014)
Second, if a conventional contract is used, we request that the following specific items be included in the proposed new EM contract at LANL. We also ask that these items be included in the ‘bridge’ contract:
- Must be tied to LANL Consent Order and LANL RCRA permit.
- Any “campaigns” must be legally binding, and not used as justification to miss Consent Order milestones.
- Should be more incentive based – less fixed.
- Should be more transparent like ARRA, including public availability of Performance Evaluations.
- Should have dramatically lower overhead costs, for example lower security and no LDRD costs. These overhead costs should be made public just as the old Functional Support Costs were available to the public.
- Must include public update meetings semi-annually.
- Should favor local/regional economic development.
- Must have public update meetings at least semi-annually.
Third, for the new bridge contract and any final contract we ask:
- Cleanup must continue at current pace during transition.
- There must be a new lifecycle baseline – with the range with assumptions spelled out. Comprehensive cleanup must be considered, not just cap and cover.
- Corrective Measures Evaluations must be completed on all areas as one of the priorities.
Finally, concerning the new bridge contract, the synopsis doesn’t address the issue of how much LANS will be paid under the to-be-finalized bridge contract in relation to how much it would have been paid under the existing contract. It also doesn’t state which of the tasks mentioned are different than under the existing contract. We request that costs and tasks be fully described in the to-be-finalized bridge contract.
Thank you for your consideration in these matters and please call if you have any questions.
Jay Coghlan Scott Kovac
Executive Director Research Director