Cleanup Costs Rise
Associated Press Write, 20 April 2000
By Matt Kelley
(AP) - The Energy Department says it now has a better idea how much
it will cost to clean up the environmental damage from America's nuclear
weapons program: Between $168 billion and $212 billion through 2070.
up to 44 percent more than the department estimated two years ago. Seventeen
of the 113 sites nationwide will take as much as a decade longer to
clean up, while the department hopes to finish work at five sites more
quickly than earlier forecast, according to a new agency report.
officials say the changes in cost and time occurred because they now
have a better handle on the scope of the contamination and what is required
to clean up the sites.
numbers this year were more accurate and realistic. That was the difference,''
department spokesman Tom Welch said Wednesday.
current and former nuclear weapons sites include some of the most highly
radioactive areas in the country - Hanford in Washington state, Savannah
River in South Carolina, Rocky Flats near Denver and the Idaho National
Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.
is responsible for cleaning up 1.7 trillion gallons of contaminated
groundwater, 100 million gallons of highly radioactive liquid, 2,000
tons of spent nuclear fuel and 18 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium
at the sites.
increased cost estimates contained in the report, which was released
Friday, are not surprising, said David Adelman, a lawyer for the Natural
Resources Defense Council.
DOE has had to admit some failures ... and be a little more realistic
about the complexity of the problem,'' said Adelman, who monitors the
nuclear cleanup for the environmental group. Those failures, he said,
included attempts to use new cleanup technology at Hanford and Idaho
that did not work.
also noted the cleanup schedules do not include the long-term monitoring
and security needed at the sites after the department's planned cleanups
way we look at it, the dates for cleanup have been absurdly optimistic
given the complexity of the issues and the magnitude of the problems,''
estimates for some of the major sites include:
$55.6 billion to clean up Hanford, up from a 1998 estimate of $54.8
billion. The estimated end of the cleanup in 2046 was unchanged.
$36.8 billion to clean up Savannah River, up from $29.7 billion in 1998.
The cleanup deadline of 2038 was unchanged.
$21.4 billion to clean up the Idaho laboratory, up from $16.3 billion.
The deadline of 2050 was unchanged.
$7.7 billion to clean up Rocky Flats, where the plutonium triggers for
nuclear weapons were made until 1989. The latest estimate is up from
$7.3 billion in 1998. The department hopes to finish the cleanup by
2006 instead of 2010.