NPR Story
5:52 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Washington State Tells Feds Hanford Cleanup Must Go Faster

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson complained Monday that the federal government will likely miss major deadlines for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

They want the feds to stick to agreed upon deadlines and are demanding new tanks to replace the leaking old ones. But the feds say they too have a plan.

Hanford has two big problems. First, the old temporary underground tanks that were built to hold the radioactive waste are leaking. Second, the construction of a massive factory that is supposed to take all that goo and treat it is way behind schedule.

The state wants the feds to build new tanks and State Attorney General Ferguson, says his agency is ready to ramp up the legal pressure to make that happen.

“We’re at the beginning stages of utilizing those legal tools," he says. "There is a long process ahead of us … we want this to be worked out if we can with an agreement with the federal government.”

The Department of Energy is responding with its own plan. Instead of new tanks, it’s proposing another factory. This new, smaller addition would pre-treat the liquid waste and would be easier to get up and running.

The state’s response to the feds: the new plan is short on details and enforceable deadlines.

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The Northwest News Network's Austin Jenkins contributed to this report.

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