CIRI Subsidiary North Wind Heads Up Facility Management at Nuclear Site

North Wind crews build a sediment pond at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Photo by Joel Irwin.
North Wind crews build a sediment pond at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Photo by Joel Irwin.

When you work for North Wind Solutions (NWSol) at its project site in southern Ohio, it’s never “just another day at the office.” That’s because the office is the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

For half a century, the plant was a mainstay in the U.S. for producing enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and power plants – until about 15 years ago, when it ceased operations.

Now, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is overseeing the decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) of the plant, which is located near the town of Piketon, Ohio. According to the DOE, D&D is the process of taking an inactive, excess or abandoned facility to a final disposition end state. Because of residual radioactivity, other hazardous constituents and the physical condition of the facility itself, D&D presents unique hazards that must be addressed.

Enter North Wind Solutions. This spring, the DOE awarded to the Portsmouth Mission Alliance, a NWSol majority-owned joint venture, a five-year contract to provide infrastructure support services at Portsmouth.

The Portsmouth facility is gigantic. Primarily made up of three process buildings, it covers 640 acres or one square mile – more ground than the Daytona International Speedway. A big plant. And a big contract for NWSol, which is owned by CIRI subsidiary the North Wind Group.

“It’s a five-year baseline contract,” said John Bukowski, president of NWSol. “During that time we will gain experience and qualification in a number of areas that are strategic to North Wind, allowing us to grow elsewhere within the Department of Energy market sector.”

Roughly 170 employees perform work under the contract, including facility surveillance and maintenance, telecommunications, fleet management, health and safety programs, grounds maintenance and security.

“It’s one of NWSol’s largest contracts, and we are implementing our Metrics Based Management (MBM) Program to manage it,” said Brent Clark, Portsmouth Mission Alliance performance and integration manager. “By utilizing MBM, each level of management can track its performance and make informed decisions regarding scope execution.”

The Portsmouth contract follows a contract at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where NWSol was responsible for round-the-clock waste operations support at the lab’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center (TWPC), dealing with radioactive elements like plutonium and americium.

“In some of our more recent larger contracts, including specifically the TWPC at Oak Ridge, along with the Portsmouth contract, we enter into a formal partnering agreement with our DOE client,” Bukowski said. “That allows us to effectively plan and control the work we are performing together, in a mutual partnership.”

Portsmouth Mission Alliance Project Manager Damon Detillion has worked at the Portsmouth site since 1980. The Portsmouth contract “is definitely a good opportunity,” he said. “So far, in our first five months that we’ve been working with the DOE and the D&D contractor (Flour-B&W Portsmouth), both have very positive comments on the services we provide. Of all the contractors that I’ve worked with here at the site, North Wind is one of the best.”

Bukowski said NWSol’s resume, particularly with regard to work rooted in the DOE Office of Environmental Management, is only expected to grow in the near future. “Our plan is to leverage the experience we have gained at sites like the TWPC and Portsmouth, where we are performing work as a prime contractor, and to take that experience and apply it to similar missions that the DOE has at other sites across the country. There will be a new round of competitive procurements, of which North Wind plans to be a significant contributor.”

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