Friday afternoon’s news dump has brought a new page in the never-ending Hanford nuclear reservation drama.
Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson are now calling on a federal judge to amend the state’s 2010 agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to set new requirements for treating and retrieving tank waste and the building of new double-shelled tanks at Hanford.
Doing so would try and keep Hanford’s cleanup moving, according to a statement from the governor’s office. Within 13 months of signing the 2010 agreement, the federal government told the state that it wouldn’t meet the waste-treatment-plant deadlines, according to the statement.
“We need much stronger accountability to ensure our citizens are protected and the Hanford site is cleaned up,” Inslee said in the statement. “Fifty-six million gallons of hazardous chemical and radioactive waste continue to be held in Hanford’s storage tanks — now decades beyond their intended use. I have allowed the federal government substantial time to come forward with a plan that satisfies those obligations and they have been unable to make that commitment so far.”
Hanford’s single-shell and double-shell underground tanks were constructed between the 1940s and 1980s, according to a 2013 story by Seattle Times reporter Craig Welch, and “hold such a complex and caustic brew of salts, gas, liquid and sludge that the precise mix of ingredients isn’t even known for all of them.”
“As a result, the tanks have long been the 586-square-mile site’s trickiest cleanup problem and are at the heart of the nation’s most
expensive construction project: a $13.4 billion treatment plant to stabilize that waste by turning it to glass.”
The changes Inslee and Ferguson are seeking include:
- New dates for completion of all waste-treatment-plant facilities.
- Additional double-shell tank capacity.
- Pacing deadlines to reduce single-shell tank-waste volume by 50 percent by 2031.
- Additional requirements for reporting and notification to the court.