Washington State Regulators Fine Feds More Than $1 Million Over Hanford Cleanup Data
The Washington Department of Ecology has issued a more than $1 million penalty to the U.S. Department of Energy for withholding important information at the Hanford cleanup site.
Ecology leaders say without access to this data, they can’t effectively protect the land, air and water for residents in eastern Washington and surrounding communities. They say they’ve attempted to negotiate this issue with federal Energy managers for years.
Washington state regulators say the federal Energy Department is legally required to provide access to this data as part of the binding Tri-Party Agreement. That document was signed in 1989 and governs cleanup of the Hanford site.
Hanford is one of the most contaminated sites in the world – including toxic materials like 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste.
The Department of Energy says it has filed an appeal with the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board. A spokesperson wrote: “We will continue to provide appropriate access to information in a way that allows us to continue to adhere to federal laws and requirements.”
The DOE stores and treats waste in tanks with equipment that is 50, 60, or even 70 years old. Washington’s Ecology Department says it can only ensure the safety of aging infrastructure if the federal government provides transparent access to those operating records.
The Ecology Department says it aims to use the penalty funds to support eastern Washington communities.
The report from the independent Government Accountability Office says the U.S. Department of Energy has not found the root causes of the partial collapse of the waste-storage tunnel, and that failures in DOE’s investigation, inspections and maintenance of other aging and contaminated facilities is concerning. Continue Reading Federal Watchdog Criticizes Energy Department For Hanford Cleanup, Tunnel Collapse
From 1949 to 1989, the massive plant’s job was to turn caustic liquids containing plutonium into solid plutonium “buttons,” as they were known. The finished buttons were about the size of hockey pucks and were used for America’s nuclear weapons. Continue Reading Hanford’s Long-Shuttered Plutonium Finishing Plant Is Now Demolished After Delays, Safety Issues
At Hanford, in southeastern Washington, contractors have just completed much of the demo work at the site’s Plutonium Finishing Plant. But now crews have to finish the job. And that’s the tough part. Continue Reading Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant Demolition Job Reaches Even More Delicate Phase