Westinghouse Selected To Operate Ohio Uranium Facility
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Department of Energy on Tuesday picked the Westinghouse Corp. to take over the operation of its problem-plagued uranium foundry for atomic weapons production at Fernald, Ohio.
Energy Secretary John Herrington said the department plans to give Westinghouse a 51/2 -year operating contract totaling approximately $1.2 billion to run the aging Feed Material Production Center.
″It’s our intention to make sure that Fernald is a good neighbor as well as an efficient and cost-effective contibutor to the nation’s defense program,″ Herrington said. ″The new contractor understands that and will help us achieve our goal.″
Energy Department officials said Westinghouse already has selected Kellogg Rust Constructors Inc. of Houston to make several ″major plant renovations and upgrades″ during the next five years.
The plant produces low-grade uranium components uses in atomic weapons. It came under scrutiny last December when it was discovered that about 300 pounds of radioactive uranium dust had leaked into the air because of a failure in its filtering system.
Since then, Energy Department officials have estimated that has much as 215,000 pounds of uranium dust may have been released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the plant’s operation in 1954.
NLO Inc., which is now operating the plant under a contract with the government, had informed the department earlier that it would not seek to renew the contract upon its Sept. 30 expiration.
Herrington last week had singled out the Fernald facility as one of the problem plants in the department’s nuclear weapons program in announcing new extensive environmental reviews for all of its atomic facilities.