Argonne awards $10 million contract to veteran-owned small business

By Jo NapolitanoDecember 16, 2009

ARGONNE, Ill. – The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory recently awarded a $10 million contract to a veteran-owned small business using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Clauss Construction, a California-based company, has been tapped to decontaminate and demolish Argonne’s Building 330, the former site of Chicago Pile-5. CP-5 was the fifth and last member of the distinguished family of "Chicago Pile" reactors, whose legacy ranges from the earliest efforts to develop nuclear reactors to current research aimed at retiring them safely.

The decontamination and demolition project, which is currently underway, will be completed in 12 to 14 months. The contract is the largest awarded by Argonne using ARRA money. After the work is completed, the land will be restored to native vegetation.

Mark Peters, Deputy Laboratory Director for Programs, said the demolition of Building 330 will help Argonne focus on newer types of research.

"By tearing down this building and others that we no longer need, we clear the way for new construction that supports our developing programs in sustainable energy technologies, like advanced batteries and solar power," he said.

Peters said the ARRA funding was crucial for this particular demolition project.

"We had plans in place to demolish the building, but had difficulty finding the money to do it," he said. "The ARRA funds allow us to complete this project ahead of schedule and let us keep more of our operating budget for research."

The demolition company’s owner, Patrick Clauss, is a service-disabled veteran. A former Marine, he served in Vietnam for 13.5 months, ending in 1968. After earning his college degree and working in construction for decades, he established Clauss Construction in 1991.

"Back then, we had three people; myself, a bookkeeper and my brother," Clauss said. "Now, we have about 80."

Clauss said he was able to bid on the project thanks to a 5-year-old federal law that created a special category for service disabled veteran-owned businesses such as his, so that they might better be able to bid on federal contracts. His company has completed several other government projects, including extensive clean-up work for NASA.