Second quarter of 2002
radioactive remediation accelerated Completion date
brought forward from 2070 to 2035
WISE-Paris, 05 April 2002
Washington State Governor Gary Locke announced on 13
March an agreement
reached with US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham that reverses a planned
$300 million cut from cleanup funds earmarked for the massive Hanford
nuclear reservation in the Pacific north west state. The federal government
will also provide an additional $150 million in fiscal year 2003 to
accelerated cleanup activities this year.
The funding cut would have threatened construction of a vitrification
plant for immobilization of the nuclear waste in glass. This would have
had a knock-on effect on other projects, as the vitrification plant
is also expected to serve in the cleanup of other areas of the Hanford
site which may then be converted into industrial parks, brownfields
or conservation sites. There are over 1,500 areas of contaminated soil
at Hanford. The funding cut had been part of the Bush administration's
proposed FY 2003 budget. A Letter of Intent -restoring the cut - has
now been signed by the State of Washington, the Department of Energy
(USDOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), modifying
the existing Tri-Party Agreement.
The letter states in part, "This represents a transformation in
Hanford Site cleanup, with the objective of accelerating completion
from a 2070 timeframe to 2035, and possibly as soon as 2025. It establishes
a bias for action and continuous improvement throughout cleanup."
Hanford Nuclear Reservation on the Columbia River in southcentral Washington
State- which produced plutonium for nuclear weapons from 1943 through
1989- could be cleaned up at least 35 years faster than originally estimated.
There are 177 large-scale underground nuclear waste tanks at Hanford,
containing some 54m gallons of high-level wastes. An estimated 440 billion
gallons of contaminated liquids were discharged to the soil since 1944.
Now US-DOE will produce a draft work plan by 1 May 2002 showing how
these goals can be met and the Tri-Parties hope to produce a mutually
acceptable work plan by 1 August 2002.