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On the cusp of a management and operating contractor change at the Y-12 National Security Complex, current contractor B&W Y-12 has brought in a new executive to direct the multi-billion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility project. Retired Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, a Bechtel executive who once headed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was named UPF director and will report to Jim Haynes, B&W Y-12’s deputy general manager for projects and also a Bechtel veteran. The move appeared to be aligned with plans of the Consolidated Nuclear Security team, a Bechtel-led team that early this year was awarded the $22 billion consolidated contract to manage the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons facilities.

However, that contract award is under protest, which froze all activities associated with the transition of contract until after the Government Accountability Office has ruled on the protests by the losing bidders—including a team headed by Babcock & Wilcox. The GAO is expected to announce its decision by April 29. “This project is so important we could not delay making a move like this until we find out from the GAO what their decision is,” said Bridge Correll Waller, a spokeswoman for B&W Y-12, which is a partnership of Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel. The two partners in B&W Y-12 split and bid separately on the Y-12/Pantex combined offering.

‘You Can’t Just Stop Doing Business’

Jason Bohne, a spokesman for Bechtel, would not confirm if Strock is part of the CNS leadership team, which has not been announced publicly except for Haynes—who will become president of CNS if the contract award is upheld. Strock joined Bechtel in 2007 after a long tenure with Army Corps of Engineers and, among other roles, served as Bechtel’s manager of global construction. When asked about the timing of the Strock’s appointment so close to a contractor change, Waller said, “You can’t just stop doing business. UPF is moving forward.”

Mark Seely, the UPF director for the past two years, will now take the lead for design completion and construction readiness, Waller said. His new title will be UPF senior project manager. A major redesign effort was launched last year after the initial work on UPF did not allow enough room to accommodate all of the needed processing equipment and operating space. As part of the leadership changes, Tony Giordano, the project manager for UPF, will be focused on preparation for the Critical Decision-2 baseline package, Waller said. “Because we see that as the most critical near-term deliverable,” she said. Giordana’s title is now UPF project manager of critical decision planning and baseline development.

Asked if the appointment violated the ban on transition activities until the GAO ruling, Bohne emphasized that Strock’s appointment as UPF director was done under the auspices of B&W Y-12, not CNS. Bohne said Strock is familiar with the work on UPF because of his previous roles as Bechtel’s manager of global construction and manager of functions. The new production facility at Y-12 is estimated to cost somewhere in the range of $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion. In a statement that accompanied the leadership changes, Haynes said, “UPF is one of the most important construction projects our nation has embarked upon since the Manhattan Project. Carl Strock’s proven leadership and accomplishments make him the ideal person to lead our UPF team as we enter this critical stage of preparing for construction.” Strock will coordinate the contractor’s work on UPF with John Eschenberg, who is the federal project director for the National Nuclear Security Administration. —From staff reports

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