Thursday, August 9, 2007
While Big Dig general contractor Bechtel Parsons/Brinkerhoff has mostly avoided responsibility for woes on the oft-criticized $15 billion project, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group has tabbed the company as one of the top violators among federal government contractors.
According to a July 18 report by the Project on Government Oversight, Bechtel has more than $4 billion in federal government contracts and has had 10 “instances of misconduct” since 1995, resulting in $1.9 million in fines and damages.
The incidents cited by POGO involve discrimination settlements, asbestos violations, hazardous waste and radioactive materials laws, nuclear-safety violations and other environmental infractions.
The report also refers to a National Transportation Safety Board report that partly blamed the fatal 2006 Big Dig collapse on mistakes made by Bechtel.
Bechtel ranked 14th out of the nation’s top 50 firms on POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database. The top offender was Lockheed Martin, which had 40 incidents of misconduct resulting in $288 million in damages.In one instance cited by POGO, Bechtel was slapped with a $162,000 fine in Hanford, Wash., after workers at a plutonium plant were found mishandling hazardous material. The company also was hit with a $330,000 fine that was later reduced to $198,000 at a Hanford water treatment plant for shoddy inspections and other violations.
In 1998, the company was fined $90,000 by New Hampshire environmental officials for violating wetlands laws during construction of a natural-gas pipeline.
A Bechtel spokesman said the instances represent “less than 1/20th of 1 percent of our total government contracts since 1995,” and that the company “stands behind that record.”