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URS Corporation’s "oldest predecessor company was founded in 1904. URS was established in 1951, and incorporated in 1957 as Broadview Research—a research group active in the area of physical and engineering sciences. In 1967, management developed a growth strategy focused on building a multidisciplinary professional services firm. In 1968, Broadview Research acquired United Research Incorporated of Cambridge, Massachusetts. During this period, the name Broadview Research was changed to United Research Services and later shortened to URS.

"Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, URS continued to expand through internal growth and strategic acquisitions that enhanced our engineering, architectural, and environmental practices. These acquisitions included Madigan-Praeger, Coverdale and Colpitts, John A. Blume & Associates, Hill Dreman Chase, and Dalton, Dalton and Newport.

"In 1996, URS further expanded with the acquisition of Greiner Engineering, which broadened our presence in the transportation market. In 1997, Woodward-Clyde Group joined URS, bringing additional environmental capabilities and a broader international presence to the organization. When Dames & Moore Group joined the Company in 1999, it further expanded our geographic base, strengthened our program and construction management expertise, added to our FORTUNE 500 client base and expanded our presence in the mass transit market. In 2002, the acquisition of EG&G Technical Services, a provider of management and technical support services to U.S. government agencies—the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security in particular—placed URS in the ranks of the leading U.S. federal services contractors.

"In November 2007, URS acquired Washington Group International, a leading engineering, construction and management solutions company. Founded as Morrison Knudsen Company in 1912, the firm grew into an internationally recognized leader in engineering, mining, civil and industrial construction. In 1996, Morrison Knudsen Corporation merged with Washington Construction Company to form a company with global capabilities spanning five markets: infrastructure, mining, industrial/process, environment and power. In 1999, the company acquired Westinghouse Government Services Company LLC, a science and technology services leader. This acquisition brought U.S. Department of Energy hazardous facilities management and operations capabilities, technology evaluation and application expertise, and the world’s largest staff of nuclear safety analysts to the company. In 2000, Morrison Knudsen changed its name to Washington Group International and further expanded its market leadership by acquiring Raytheon Engineers & Constructors, a global leader in chemical demilitarization and power facility development." [1]

It is one of three partner organizations that form Nuclear Management Partners.

AECOM and URS have joined together as one company

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Director Joseph Ralston

URS Director Joseph W. Ralston is also a participant in the Pentagon military analyst program, a military analyst for CBS and a lobbyist for The Cohen Group. [2] He's also appeared on PBS's "Charlie Rose" show [3]

Ralston is one of three retired four-star generals reported to have declined the offer to become "war czar" "to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies." [1]

In August 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named Ralston, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "to serve as her special envoy for countering the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a group designated a terrorist organization by the United States." [2]

"General Ralston has served as Vice Chairman of The Cohen Group since 2003; as a director of Lockheed Martin since 2003; and as a director of The Timken Company since 2003. General Ralston's military career began in 1965 and concluded in 2003, when he retired from active duty." [4]

URS sent to investigate fracking site, where benzene found in fluid provided by Halliburton

In mid-October 2010, farmers near a coal seam gas "fracking" site in Queensland announced that they will have their water supplies tested for toxic benzene and other chemicals after Origin Energy found contaminated water near drilling sites. The discovery of BTEX - a mixture of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene - around eight coal seam gas wells near Miles, west of Brisbane, marks the first time a resources company has admitted to contaminating water at a fracking site. Origin detected the chemicals in mid-October and told the Queensland government, which is legislating to ban the use of BTEX chemicals during coal seam gas drilling. Origin has shut down all 17 of its drilling rigs across a 40-kilometre-wide area while an investigation is carried out.[5]

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to fracture rock formations and force gas to the surface. The controversial process has fuelled protests from landholders in Australia and the United States, where government tests have detected harmful levels of hydrocarbons, including BTEX, in drinking water wells in areas where fracking is used. Origin refused to disclose the mixture of chemicals used in the fracking fluid that it was using on the site. The US company Halliburton supplied the fluids. Origin's manager of oil and gas operations, Paul Zealand, said BTEX was not being used as a fracking fluid, and that the contamination may have come from diesel fuel or lubricants used on machinery at the gas drilling sites. An engineering consultancy, URS, and the government will investigate.[5]


Accessed February 2009: [6]


Web: http://investors.urscorp.com

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. History, URS, accessed February 7, 2009.
  2. David Barstow, "Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand," New York Times, April 20, 2008.
  3. "A conversation with Joseph W. Ralston and William F. Kernan about Iraq," Charlie Rose show, March 31, 2003.
  4. Directors, URS, accessed February 7, 2009.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ben Cubby, "Origin stops coal seam gas drilling after chemicals found in water" Sydney Morning Herald, October 21, 2010.
  6. Directors, URS, accessed February 7, 2009.