Duratek awarded part of uranium-waste job

$558 million contract with Energy Department

August 31, 2002|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

Duratek Inc. said yesterday that it has won part of a $558 million contract with the Department of Energy to convert depleted uranium hexaflouride, a byproduct of weapons production, into a chemical that can safely be reused or disposed of.

The Columbia-based company and two other firms will design, build and operate facilities in Paducah, Ky., and Portsmouth, Ohio, where the uranium will be converted into triuranium octoxide.

The companies will also be responsible for maintaining the uranium and converted triuranium octoxide.

The three companies formed a separate entity, Uranium Disposition Services, to perform the job, which will last through 2010.

Duratek will manage the venture and receive about 26 percent of the contract, or $145 million.

"We'll essentially run the project," said Duratek Chief Financial Officer Robert F. Shawver.

Shawver said the project was a milestone for Duratek, which has 1,300 employees and annual revenue of about $250 million.

"We've never been on a team that's won a project that is this large," he said. "It's an exciting project for Duratek."

Virginia-based Framatome ANP Inc. will provide the technology that will break down the uranium into the new product.

New Jersey-based Roe Enterprises Inc. will design the buildings and provide engineering services.

The Energy Department has 56,000 metric tons of the uranium in a facility in Tennessee, 198,000 metric tons in Ohio and 450,000 metric tons in Kentucky.

The uranium stored in government facilities at the East Tennessee Technology Park will be transported to Portsmouth for conversion.

The uranium was used over the years in the production of nuclear weapons.

The three companies were selected over five other bids for the contract.

"Being chosen among a competitive field of bidders, we believe recognizes the depth of the capabilities and experience Duratek has built for managing large projects and operating nuclear facilities for DOE," Robert E. Prince, Duratek president and chief executive, said in a statement. "This is a key long-term project and we are very committed to making it a success."

Shares of Duratek rose 46 cents to $6.50 yesterday.

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