new plan to reclassify nuclear waste would allow the federal government to walk
away from its obligation to clean up millions of gallons of toxic, radioactive
waste at Hanford, Washington state officials said this week.
state filed comments https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/FinalStateCommentsonHLW-FRNotice_1-4-19.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
this week with the U.S. Department of Energy opposing a plan to
“reinterpret” the classification of 56 million gallons of waste stored in
underground tanks on the Hanford nuclear site in southeastern Washington.
comments were accompanied by a letter https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/Gov-AG-DOE-LtrCommentsRe_InterpretationofHighLevelWaste.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
from Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
is an attempt by the federal government to grant themselves the unilateral
authority to leave high level, radioactive waste in the ground at Hanford. This
dangerous idea will only serve to silence the voices of tribal leaders, Hanford
workers, public safety officials, and surrounding communities in these
important conversations,” Inslee said. “This is unacceptable, and we will not
stand by while this administration plans to abandon its responsibility to clean
up their mess.”
underground tank waste is the deadly legacy of a half-century of plutonium
production for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Hanford tanks hold 60 percent of
the nation’s most dangerous nuclear waste.
all of that waste is classified as high-level. Plans for its treatment and
disposal have been developed to isolate it from the environment until it is no
longer dangerous. The federal Energy department seeks to reclassify a
potentially large percentage of the waste as lower level waste.
would allow treatment and disposal options that would not guarantee long-term
protection for local communities, groundwater and the Columbia River,” said the
state in a press release.
said his office will follow this issue closely.
will not tolerate shortcuts in the federal government's cleanup of Hanford,”
Ferguson said. “Unilaterally re-classifying high-level waste based on criteria
not found in statute, and without consultation with other regulators and
states, is dangerous and wrong. My office will ensure the federal government
honors its cleanup obligations.”
Bellon, director of the State Department of Ecology, called the move
has done its part to support national security,” Bellon said. “In return, we
have been repeatedly assured that Hanford will be cleaned up to a standard that
protects our health and environment, and that tank waste will be incorporated
into glass for long-term stability. There is only one reason to reclassify
Hanford’s high-level waste, and that is to clear the way for cheaper, less
protective waste treatment. That is just not acceptable."