Major Delays Proposed for Hanford Cleanup: Public Comment Opportunity – Voice Your Concerns
Show that you are invested in the future of our nation’s most contaminated site with this simple action: submit a public comment. Columbia Riverkeeper is sending in comments about proposed delays to Hanford cleanup. You can too! Click here to sign on to our public comments by January 15, 2016. You may also add additional thoughts to the text box before submitting. Thank you for your continued support. Together, we can Stand Up for Hanford Cleanup!
About the Proposed Delays
The U.S. Department of Energy (Energy), WA State Department of Ecology (Ecology), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are proposing changes to the Tri-Party Agreement (TPA), the document that lays out the deadlines, called milestones, for the cleanup effort at Hanford. These TPA changes are a huge setback and include some of the largest delays in Hanford cleanup to date. Currently, the Central Plateau, where hundreds of liquid and solid waste dumping sites are located, is scheduled to be cleaned up by 2024. Under the proposed changes, cleanup plans would be delayed by more than a decade and the final cleanup date is listed as TBD (To Be Determined).
Overall, the TPA agencies are proposing extensions for 9 milestones, modifications to 6 milestones, and an addition of 19 new milestones. Go here for the full version of the TPA changes and here for the TPA agency fact sheet.
What do these changes mean?
Increased Risk to Human Health and the Environment
What happens in the Central Plateau, doesn’t stay in the Central Plateau. Every delay means more contamination gets into the groundwater from toxic burial grounds. Since the groundwater is moving toward the Columbia River, a 10 year delay increases the likely hood of radioactive and chemical wastes reaching the River. The same logic can be applied to the delays happening for the 618-11 burial ground and the 324 building, some of the most dangerous and toxic sites located near the river. We work, live, and play on the Columbia River and protecting it should be the highest priority.
Increased Cleanup Costs
With every passing year, the costs of cleanup will continue to rise. As contamination sinks further into the ground and affects more groundwater, the effort to go capture that waste will become more difficult and take longer. Because Hanford’s infrastructure is old and failing, additional money will need to be spent to fix roofs as well as sewer and water pipelines in contaminated buildings before cleanup will even begin. These extra costs are paid for by our federal tax dollars, dollars that will be wasted.
Cleanup completion of the Central Plateau has been changed to TBD (To Be Determined). This is unacceptable. The purpose of the Tri-Party Agreement is to ensure that Energy and their contractors are completing the work in a timely and effective manner. Without firm cleanup deadlines, Energy cannot be held accountable to completing this vital work. Washington State and Governor Inslee have repeatedly stated that having enforceable schedules is a firm requirement. The EPA and Ecology have even gone to court to hold Energy to deadlines before. Removing this type of oversight is a big mistake! Without firm deadlines, Energy is off the hook and we will continue to see more proposed delays.