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EPA seeks efficiency in new contract

| August 13, 2004 12:00 AM

By Brent Shrum, Western News Reporter

A new round of residential cleanups is scheduled to begin later this month under a revised contracting system Environmental Protection Agency officials hope will result in reduced costs through increased competition.

Three firms have been chosen to participate in the five-year, $37 million contract. They are Environmental Restoration, Libby Restoration — a team including Sterling Construction Services, Marcor and SaLut — and MCSO Environmental — a team including MCS, Envirocon and IRS Environmental.

Each contractor is being given four properties to clean of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, said local EPA Superfund project manager Jim Christiansen. Based on their experiences with the initial four properties, each company will submit bids for the cleanup of a block of around 20 properties. Contracts will continue to be let in blocks, with the three companies competing for the work, Christiansen said.

Christiansen acknowledged that the new system will result in some short-term turmoil. Over time, he said he expects one firm to become established as the contractor doing most of the residential cleanup work while another becomes dominant with contracts at the landfill.

Based on input from contractors, Christiansen said he expects to compress the cleanup schedule next year into eight or nine months to result in steadier work over a shorter period of time.

According to the EPA, additional benefits of the new contracting system include more experienced workers with a longer-term commitment and increased flexibility to allow a new contractor to be brought in as backup without having to develop, advertise and award a new contract.