Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson today issued new demands to the U.S. Department of Energy to ensure timely Hanford cleanup in the form of a proposed plan to revise the 2010 Consent Decree. The proposal aims to prevent the federal government from delaying cleanup of Hanford's radioactive and hazardous tank waste.
The state's plan seeks to keep Hanford cleanup on track in spite of the federal government's repeated statements that it will not be able to meet important cleanup deadlines. Today's action is the first step under the Consent Decree that could precede a request from the court to establish new requirements.
USDOE also submitted a draft plan to the state today, though an initial review by the state shows the plan does not provide sufficient detail. Inslee and Ferguson expressed frustration that it took the federal government more than two years from when the state was first told that deadlines were at risk to provide a draft plan for a path forward. The official proposal received this morning from the federal government does not provide details on how USDOE will meet the at-risk deadlines and get back on schedule despite repeated requests by the state.
"Although I appreciate Secretary Moniz placing a high priority on Hanford, the state needs a plan that includes a detailed and comprehensive path forward," said Governor Jay Inslee. "Our proposed amendments to the consent decree address this need by providing very specific steps for meeting these deadlines to ensure Hanford cleanup is completed in a timely manner."
The state's plan includes four requirements for the federal government:
1. Timely Waste Treatment: The Waste Treatment Plant is behind schedule. The state demands a revised step-by-step schedule to complete construction of the Waste Treatment Plant and begin treating waste as soon as possible. The state's plan requires the completion of all waste treatment by the same ultimate deadline--no later than 2047.
2. Remove Waste from Leaky Tanks: The state demands new specific requirements to get the waste out of the leaky single-shell tanks as soon as possible. The state's plan creates rigid pacing deadlines to ensure waste removal from the single-shell tanks is completed no later than 2040. It further requires new double-shell tanks to be built to accommodate waste until the Waste Treatment Plant is completed.
3. Address Environmental Risks: The state demands new environmental safety requirements for groundwater treatment and to minimize leaking as the waste is removed and treated.
4. Additional Accountability: The state has been frustrated by the lack of timely information from the federal government. The state demands new terms to the court-ordered Consent Decree, including regular progress reports filed with the state and the court.
"Today, the state is demanding the federal government meet its legal commitments at Hanford," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. "We are proposing new requirements to increase accountability, protect the environment, and reduce the possibility of further delays."