US Chemical Demilitarization: Expansion and Update
In a recent post, DID noted that Bechtel National Inc. in San Francisco, CA had received a delivery order amount of $27.6 million as part of a $315.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for activities to facilitate future closure of the Aberdeen Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (ABCDF). Yet Bechtel also received a recent contract $94.3 million delivery order amount as part of a $409.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract “for construction of a chemical demilitarization facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground.” What’s going on?
DID got in touch with the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, and Public Affairs Officer Jeff Lindblad offered some clarifications:
The $27 million is for stage one closure of ABCDF – the development of plans outlining how the facility will be closed. Obviously, this is far from straightforward when dealing with chemical weapon disposal facilities.
Following 9/11, the Department of Defense re-evaluated the chemical disposal program, looking at where they accelerate destruction of the USA’s stockpile. Aberdeen was one location selected for accelerated destruction due to one agent that was conveniently stored in one-ton steel containers. This required a reordering of the destruction process, modifications to the facility, and offsite treatment of the resulting hydrolysate byproduct at an approved and permitted commercial treatment facility.
Here’s where the latest $94.3 million contract comes in:
“When the project cost for mustard agent destruction and Ton Container Cleanout Facility disposal were being negotiated, the total cost was estimated at $244.6 M (this is cost without fee). The true cost was actually an additional $94M (over target baseline) so the true cost of agent disposal was actually $244.6 M + $94M. The contracts for this money are being modified to reflect the true cost–they are not new contracts for new work.”
DID also asked about the $409 million figure, and how it squares with these amounts:
“Yes, the cost of the contract is estimated to be $409.9 million. These are not separate contracts. The Army estimated that the cost of accelerated agent destruction operations at the ABCDF, to include design and construction would cost $315.6 million. Since ABCDF was a first-of-its kind facility, it became apparent that the estimated project costs were not accurately representative of what the project was going to cost. With the various technical difficulties and operational issues that were being encountered, the project was outgrowing the original estimate and necessitating the establishment of a more realistic budget.
At that time, the Army entered into negotiations with the contractor for a new project baseline, which was estimated to be an increase of $94.3 million. This brought the estimated contract amount up to $409.9 million. This amount includes $344.3M direct costs associated with the design, construct, and operation of the agent disposal facility, to include the cost to implement international treaty compliance, adhere to new environmental regulations etc., a $27.5M contract modification (cost-plus-fixed fee) for closure planning. The remaining balance of funds is for extraneous costs i.e. contractor and workforce incentive fees etc. The estimated contract end date for disposal operations was Sept. 2005, and the estimated end date for closure planning was April 2006.”
That explains that. Bechtel National Inc. in San Francisco, CA is the prime contractor executing this project at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, and work is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2006. This was a sole source contract initiated on Dec. 2, 2004 by the U.S. Army Field Support Command, Rock Island, IL (DAAA09-02-G-0005).
The CMA has a number of storage and disposal sites, each of which has its own prime contractor. Prime contractors hold the design, build, operation and closure portions of the contract, while subcontractors to the prime contractors vary by site. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), DuPont, and Southwest Research Institute are among those that provide support under the prime contractors.
The following is a list of the prime contractors at each CMA disposal site:
- Aberdeen, MD: Bechtel;
- Anniston, AL: Washington Group Int’l;
- Blue Grass, KY: Bechtel-Parsons;
- Newport, IN: Parsons;
- Pine Bluff, AR: Washington Group Int’l;
- Pueblo, CO: Bechtel;
- Tooele, UT: EG&G Incorporated; and
- Umatilla, OR: Washington Group Int’l.
Note that decontamination at the Pueblo, CO and Blue Grass, KY sites are managed by a separate Department of Defense body, the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives group based out of Aberdeen, MD. Those sites use alternatives to standard incineration techniques.