Bechtel

Bechtel is involved in with a number of US nuclear weapons facilities including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Y-12 Complex, and the Pantex Plant. Bechtel is also part of the team working on the new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent for the US arsenal.

Company profile

Bechtel Group, a private company based in the US, operates as an engineering, construction and project management company. Its business units are infrastructure, nuclear, security and environmental, oil, gas and chemicals and mining and metals markets.[i]

In the financial year 2017, Bechtel Group reported revenues of US$ 25.9 billion (€ 21.6 billion). Profits are not reported by the company.[ii]

Stock exchange listing

Bechtel is not publicly traded.

Contact


Nuclear weapons

Bechtel’s business unit, US Government Services, assists the US Department of Energy (DoE) in the areas of nuclear weapons development, scientific research and environmental clean-up.[iii] Bechtel is also involved in providing nuclear propulsion components for the US Navy, though that falls outside the scope of this report.[iv]

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The Lawrence Livermore National Security partnership includes Battelle[v] and Texas A&M University.[vi] LLNL plays an important role in the research, design, development and production of nuclear weapons,[vii] including the life extension program of the B61 nuclear bomb[viii] and of the W80-1 nuclear warhead for air-launched cruise missiles.[ix] The contract for LLNL was awarded in 2007 and currently runs through September 2023.[x] The maximum possible fee to be collected under the contract is US$ 45.5 million (€ 37.6 million) a year.[xi] The US National Nuclear Security Administration has been criticised for renewing lucrative deals at LLNL despite poor performance of the contractors.[xii]

Y-12 Complex – Uranium Processing & Savannah River Tritium Operations

Bechtel is a member of Consolidated Nuclear Services (CNS), which took over the management and operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Texas under the same contract in 2014. CNS is a Bechtel -led joint venture including Leidos, ATK Launch Systems (now part of Northrop Grumman), SOC, and Booz Allen Hamilton[xiii] as a teaming subcontractor.[xiv]

The US$ 446 million (€ 326.5 million) contract has a base-term of five years, with options for an additional five years. In June 2019 the first of three options might be entered.[xv] The contract includes design and construction of a Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 National Security Complex and an option for Savannah River Tritium Operations at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.[xvi] The construction of the UPF facility started in 2018. CNS states “UPF will be built by 2025 for no more than US$ 6.5 billion through a series of seven subprojects”.[xvii] CNS is responsible for the construction. Bechtel states UPF “will be a multi-building, state of the art complex for enriched uranium operations related to nuclear security. It will not only ensure the long-term viability, safety, and security of the enriched uranium capability in the US but also support the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, the downblending of uranium to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and provide uranium for fuel for US Navy submarines and aircraft carriers.”[xviii]

Pantex Plant

Bechtel is a member of Consolidated Nuclear Services (CNS), which took over the management and operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Texas under the same contract in 2014. CNS is a Bechtel -led joint venture including Leidos, ATK Launch Systems (now part of Northrop Grumman), SOC, and Booz Allen Hamilton[xix] as a teaming subcontractor.[xx]

Pantex has been described as the primary US facility for “the final assembly, dismantlement and maintenance of nuclear weapons”.[xxi]

W76-1/ Mk4A warheads

At the Pantex Plant in Texas the life extension programme for the W76 warheads deployed on Trident II (D5) ballistic missiles is expected to continue through 2019.[xxii] The programme is on track to complete production in 2019.[xxiii]

W76-2 warheads

In January 2019, the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said to researchers of the Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor that “it has started building the first low-yield, submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead”, the W76-2, at the Pantex Plant. Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor reports that “the NNSA has said it will convert ‘a small number’ of W76-1 warheads into W76-2 warheads” as outlined by the Trump administration in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. The conversion to the W76-2 will cost a minimum of USD 125 million (€ 110.1 million).[xxiv]

W80-1 Alt 369 warheads

In October 2017 CNS completed the first W80-1 Alt 369 update. The W80-1 is the nuclear warhead on the US air-launched cruise missiles. “The W80-1 Alt 369, scheduled to run through December 2020, will remain operational until the transition to the life-extended W80-4”.[xxv]

W88 Alt 370 warheads

Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory are “[t]he design and engineering labs for the W88 Alt 370, while multiple nuclear security enterprise facilities are responsible for other aspects of the W88 Alt 370”. The Pantex Plant is responsible for producing the conventional high explosives and final assembly of the complete W88 Alt 370 for delivery to the US Navy. The W88 is the nuclear warhead deployed on the Trident II (D5). The US National Nuclear Security Administration “is on schedule to provide the W88 Alt 370 first production unit in December 2019 and will complete all production by 2024”.[xxvi]

Ground-based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD)

Bechtel is part of both the Boeing and the Northrop Grumman GBSD teams, likely for their expertise in launch facilities.[xxvii] The GBSD program aims to develop a replacement for the current Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system around 2030.[xxviii] The US Air Force “plans to replace the [Minuteman III] missiles with a new Ground-based Strategic Deterrent around 2030”.[xxix]


[last updated 13 May 2019]

The following companies are profiled in the latest report.

In some nuclear-armed states – in particular the United States, the United Kingdom and France – private companies are hired by governments to carry out work on maintaining and modernising nuclear arsenals.

This report looks at the companies most heavily involved in the nuclear weapon industry. The contracts these companies have with nuclear armed countries are for materials and services to keep nuclear weapons in their arsenals. The companies described are substantially involved in the nuclear weapons programmes of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, or India and are themselves based in France, India, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In other nuclear-armed countries –Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea – the maintenance and modernization of nuclear forces is carried out primarily or exclusively by government agencies.

Methodology

The nuclear weapon producers identified were selected on the basis of a predetermined set of criteria.
– Information on investments is publicly available.
– The company is directly involved in the development, testing, production, maintenance or trade of nuclear weapons related technology, parts, products or services.
– The company’s involvement is related to warheads, or to delivery systems such as missiles, that are specifically developed for nuclear tasks. This includes technology that is designed for ‘dual use’ (military and civilian) but excludes technology that is not designed for, but can be used in nuclear warfare. It does not include delivery platforms such as bombers and submarines.

State owned or controlled nuclear industries are outside the scope of this research, as are companies not publicly listed. Our research uncovered a number of Universities involved in nuclear weapons programmes, but these are also outside the scope of the report.

The list of nuclear weapon producers investigated was compiled through a wide variety of sources, including financial institution exclusion lists, civil society reports, media reports, etc. Additional details on the contracts and components is on the website.
We welcome information at any time about possible nuclear weapon producing companies to investigate.