(TNS) — The contract for Mission Support Alliance at Hanford has been extended for up to six months while the Department of Energy prepares to award a new sitewide services contract for the nuclear reservation.

This is the second extension of up to six months granted to the contractor owned by Leidos and Centerra Group.

The contract was initially awarded for 10 years and valued at $3.2 billion. Mission Support Alliance employs almost 2,000 people.

After the first extension, the contract was set to expire Nov. 25, but that was too little time for the four-month transition to the new contract.

The contract includes services such as security, fire protection, utilities, land management, management of the HAMMER training center, information technology and infrastructure.

“The proposed contract extension (through May 25) will allow Hanford site infrastructure services, which support the cleanup operations being conducted by other Hanford site contractors, to continue uninterrupted while the department completes the acquisition process for a follow-on procurement,” DOE said in a message to Hanford workers Monday.

Congress was notified last month that DOE had picked a winner for a 10-year contract award of more than $3 billion.

Three Democrat senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee — Dianne Feinstein of California, Patty Murray of Washington and Jeff Merkley of Oregon — told Energy Secretary Rick Perry in late September they objected to the proposed award to a company that is being sued for false claims and submitting false bills to DOE.

Although the senators did not provide specifics, they appeared to be referring to a Department of Justice lawsuit against Mission Support Alliance and Lockheed Martin.

Leidos said the senators appeared to have confused Mission Support Alliance with a new and legally separate company, Hanford Mission Integration Solutions.

Hanford Mission Integration Solutions has bid on the new services contract. Like Mission Support Alliance, its primary owner is Leidos.

The Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit in February accusing Mission Support Alliance and Lockheed of defrauding the federal government out of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

It has alleged improper profit payments and inflated estimates of the costs for payment rates.

Mission Support Alliance and Lockheed have denied wrongdoing, with Leidos saying the allegations happened before Leidos acquired an interest in Mission Support Alliance in 2016.

Other Contracts Extended

DOE also has extended two other major expiring contracts at Hanford recently, both for up to a year.

Washington River Protection Solutions will continue to manage 56 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in underground tanks through Sept. 30.

And CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. will continue environmental cleanup in the center of the site, some remaining cleanup near the Columbia River and treatment of contaminated groundwater through the same date.

It is the second one-year extension for each, bringing their initial 10-year contracts to as long as 12 years.

Together they employ about 4,000 workers.

Hanford is contaminated from the past production of nearly two-thirds of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program through World War II and the Cold War.

©2019 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.