- Bechtel and AECOM — which purchased the subcontractor involved, URS Corp. — have agreed to pay $125 million to settle U.S. Department of Justice claims that they did not provide "quality materials or services" during construction of a nuclear waste processing plant in Washington state and made false statements to the government, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- Also covered under the deal are DOJ allegations that Bechtel used funds intended to further work at the Hanford plant site for its lobbying agenda, according to U.S. News & World Report.
- Both Bechtel and AECOM deny any wrongdoing and said they agreed to pay the fines to avoid lengthy court battles. Bechtel will pay $67.5 million, and AECOM will pay $57.5 million. The agreement is the culmination of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by three individuals.
The companies have been working for 13 years to complete the nuclear waste processing facility that will be able to convert 56 million gallons of radioactive material into glass so that it can be safely stockpiled. The site now has the largest accumulation of nuclear waste in the country. Bechtel won the contract to build the plant in 2000, and URS is a subcontractor. AECOM purchased URS after the whistleblower suit had been filed.
This case was a deviation for 118-year-old construction giant Bechtel, which has a long history as a go-to engineering and construction company for the government, as it was responsible for such landmarks as the Hoover Dam. The contractor is also a big name abroad, and it recently renewed its contract on the Jubail City project in Saudi Arabia. The company has been working on the 250,000-acre port-side industrial development since the 1970s, and the next phases involve residential construction and educational facilities, including an 18-000 student "greenfield" university.