Companies interested in managing the two main civilian nuclear-weapon production sites under a potential 10-year, $28-billion contract with the National Nuclear Security Administration will be allowed to visit the facilities on Sept. 22 and Sept. 24.

The agency announced in June that it would not pick up further options on incumbent Consolidated Nuclear Security’s contract to manage the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. The semiautonomous Department of Energy branch aims to transition to a new contractor by Oct. 1, 2021, and just about every major player in the DoE business is expected to line up for a shot.

BWX Technologies [BWXT], which ran the sites before Consolidated Nuclear Security, has said it is interested in the follow-on work, as has Amentum — the former AECOM [ACM] Management Services. One source said BWX Technologies and Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] have explored a joint bid.

Interested teams can send a maximum of two representatives to Y-12 on Sept. 22, and to Pantex on Sept. 24, according to a notice published late last week. Y-12 processes uranium for nuclear-weapon secondary stages, and manufactures the stages, which are also called canned subassemblies. Pantex is the NNSA’s servicing center for all U.S. nuclear weapons. The Texas panhandle site is in charge of everything from minor modifications and routine maintenance to major weapons life-extension programs.

Visitors to both locations will have to abide by COVID-19 protocols, which include mandatory face coverings, health questionnaires, and temperature checks. Both facilities put those protocols in place over the summer, after it became clear that nuclear-weapon servicing and production would have to continue under pandemic conditions for the foreseeable future.

One-on-one meetings between NNSA representatives and potential bidders will come after the scheduled site visits. With COVID-19 still raging, the meetings will be virtual, the NNSA said. The agency expects to release its final solicitation for the work after the scheduled tours.

The draft solicitation was issued last month. It says Consolidated Nuclear Security will remain on site at Y-12 after the new contractor takes over, solely to finish building the Uranium Processing Facility.