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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Dec. 9, 2023

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Feds seek bids for new multi-million dollar Eastern Washington nuclear site contract


KENNEWICK — The Department of Energy is requesting bids for an occupational medical services contractor for the Hanford nuclear reservation site.

The site now employs about 10,000 workers.

DOE did not release an estimated value of the upcoming contract, but the last contract awarded for occupational medical services was valued at the end of 2018 at $152 million for up to seven years.

However, that contract did not include the workers at the Hanford vitrification plant, which has yet to start treating radioactive waste.

During its construction and startup phase, the Hanford occupational medical services contract did not cover its workers, but the new contract will be expanded to include vit plant workers as the plant prepares for operation and starts treating waste.

The new contract will have a base period of three years, including a 60-day transition period, plus two option periods of two years each for a possible total of seven years.

The contract is reserved for a small business with no more than $25.5 million in average annual receipts.

DOE released its request for bids, or “request for proposals,” on Thursday. Responses are due April 10.

The 586-square-mile Hanford site in Eastern Washington by Richland was used to produce plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program during World War II and the Cold War.

Now more than $2.5 billion is spent annually on cleanup of radioactive and hazardous chemical waste and contamination.

The current occupational medicine contract is held by HPM Corp. of Kennewick and expires on Dec. 31, 2023.

Services range from basic first aid to exams to evaluate employees’ injuries and illnesses to set possible work restrictions.

The HPMC contract includes an option to extend services through the end of 2025, but the current contract does not include vitrification plant workers, DOE said in its announcement Thursday.

But in addition, HPMC has been suspended by the Small Business Administration from applying for or receiving new federal contracts.

HPMC accused of fraud

In March 2022 the company reached a $3 million agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern Washington to settle accusations of COVID loan fraud.

Among the reasons that companies can be barred from new federal contracts is a lack of business honesty and integrity.

DOE said in 2022 that it agreed with SBA’s decision to suspend HPMC.

“We recognize the fraudulent activities taken by the HPMC owners do not reflect the service and commitment of the corporation’s workforce and medical providers,” DOE said in a statement then.

DOE also said the company is under new leadership. Hollie Mooers previously served as president and owner, but Laurie Miller is now president.

“Under new leadership and with strict adherence to Hanford’s ethical compliance culture, DOE is confident that the HPMC workforce will continue to provide the highest quality healthcare services to the Hanford workforce through the completion of its current contract,” DOE said in 2022.

HMPC and its then owners secured a loan of just over $1.3 million in April 2020 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

A year later the U.S. Small Business Administration forgave the initial loan and about $13,500 in interest.

HPMC continued to receive full payments under its DOE contract during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in fact its business at the Hanford site increased because it was awarded additional contract work related to testing for COVID-19 and vaccine administration, according to a court document.

According to an investigation by the DOE Office of Inspector General, the CARES Act loan money was not spent by the contractor but was transferred in July 2021 to the personal checking account of Hollie Mooers, the founder and president of HPMC, and her husband, Grover Cleveland Mooers, then named as co-owner.

That was about three months after the loan and interest were forgiven.

In September 2021, about two months after the loan was transferred to the Mooers’ personal account, the full amount of the loan money was distributed by a financial planning firm to various charities, according to a federal court document.

HPMC officials said during the investigation that the the donations were handled as personal donations of the Mooers rather than donations from HPMC.

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