Radioactive Waste Cleanup Deadlines at Hanford

EPA to Slap Dept. of Energy with Fines for Missing Radioactive Waste Cleanup Deadlines at Hanford


Watch KOIN News Interview with Dan Serres re: Hanford

The U.S. Department of Energy (Energy) missed a major cleanup deadline at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and now the agency’s regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency, is planning to start levying fines of up to $10,000 per week. The radioactive waste at issue is stored in pool-like basins near the shores of the Columbia River. Fifty-one miles of the Columbia River flows past the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, including some of the highest quality habitat for endangered salmon in the Columbia River Basin.  

“People eat fish from the Columbia River caught just offshore of Hanford. This is why it is imperative that the Department of Energy stick to its promises when it comes to removing dangerous radioactive waste,” stated Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “If a private company blew even a fraction of the deadlines that Energy has blown for Hanford cleanup, the company would have been fired years ago,” stated Serres.

The Cold War ended in the late 1980s, but the government left behind radioactive rods in abandoned pools. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Energy is significantly behind schedule in removing this radioactive waste. Energy is pointing fingers at Congress for failing to fully fund Hanford cleanup.

“Energy has yet to explain how cleaning up such radioactive waste so close to the Columbia was not prioritized over less threatening cleanup actions,” stated Serres. “Overall, Energy’s inability to meet deadline after deadline calls for a major shakeup in leadership at Hanford.”

Columbia Riverkeeper is advocating for timely, thorough, and effective cleanup at Hanford. As a member of the Hanford Advisory Board and a watchdog organization, Riverkeeper works to increase public participation in Hanford cleanup decisions while arming the public with the in-depth analysis of Hanford cleanup plans.

Read Energy’s letter to Environmental Protection Agency asking for a deadline extension and the agency’s response.

This product was funded through a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology. While these materials were reviewed for grant consistency, this does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Ecology.