Monday, October 8, 2018

Nuclear Weapons Maker to Receive Extra $420,600 to Help Repair Oakland Bridge

In addition to managing US nuclear labs, AECOM does billions in business building overseas military bases and maintaining Air Force drones.

By Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Oct 8, 2018 at 10:08 AM

click to enlarge Caltrans and the city of Oakland are repairing the 23rd Avenue Bridge.
  • Caltrans and the city of Oakland are repairing the 23rd Avenue Bridge.

The Oakland City Council is considering increasing an existing contract by $420,600 for a total of $1.25 million to repair the 23rd Avenue Bridge, but the modified contract is with AECOM, an engineering company that has been involved in designing and manufacturing nuclear weapons components, and in the past, helped manage a desert test site where nuclear weapons experiments were conducted.

Oakland has an anti-nuclear ordinance that usually bars companies involved in designing and building nukes from doing business with the city. But city staffers are recommending that the council waive the prohibition for AECOM due to the fact that the company, and its URS subsidiary, have been involved with the 23rd Avenue Bridge project since 2003 and finding another firm to do the technical work would be difficult.

The original $229,400 contract form 2003 for design and engineering services was signed when URS was independent from AECOM and before URS was a prime contractor with the U.S. Department of Energy, which oversees the nation's nuclear weapons programs. But in 2005, URS became part of a consortium of companies that took over management of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where most of the U.S. military's nuclear weapons are designed and some weapons parts are manufactured. The next year, URS took over management of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the nation's second nuclear weapons design and testing lab.

AECOM bought URS in 2014 and as a result became a partner in the nuclear labs' management company. Three months ago, the federal government selected a new team to manage the Los Alamos lab, dropping AECOM as one of the firms involved there. But AECOM is still part of the Livermore Lab group.

Prior to this, AECOM helped manage the Nevada National Security Site where nuclear weapons are tested in "subcritical" experiments that don't result in fission or fusion explosions.

AECOM has billions of dollars worth of other contracts with the U.S. military, doing everything from building overseas bases to maintaining drone weapons systems. As a result of its nuclear weapons contracts, AECOM was one of several companies that Norway's sovereign fund put on an investment blacklist last January.

In 2012, Oakland's City Council increased the contract with URS to work on the 23rd Avenue Bridge to $829,400. But according to the city, "several unforeseen conditions and needed re-design work" require that the contract be increased again to $1.25 million. The funds are mainly state and federal transportation grant dollars.

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