Washington Suing U.S. Over Slow Cleanup at Hanford Nuclear Reserve
Washington state has decided to sue the federal government over its slow cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, arguing that the window is closing to safely remove Hanford’s 53 million gallons of radioactive waste from storage tanks before they leak.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire announced today that the state would sue the Department of Energy, breaking an agreement between the state, the federal agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed in 1989.
The waste stored in 177 tanks at the former weapons production site poses “dire consequences” for the Columbia River, the state’s lawsuit notice said, with at least 67 single-wall tanks already leaking.
But the Department of Energy and its contractors have consistently missed deadlines, Washington state charges, and the agency’s schedule calls for completing cleanup by 2047 at best. The state says it has “serious doubts” about the Department of Energy’s ability to deliver if it “continues on its path of poor planning, poor management and failure to seek sufficient funding to keep the project on track.”
“On Energy’s present course,” the state said, “it is inevitable that additional tanks will leak.”
In a statement, the U.S. Department of Energy said it is making significant progress at the site and is “disappointed” by the lawsuit.
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