local | Environment

Report: Hanford Unprepared For Early Start On Cleanup

Northwest News Network | Oct. 9, 2012 3:27 p.m.

Contributed By:

Jessica Robinson

Hanford Waste Treatment Plan's Pretreatment Facility as seen from the center of the construction site. Photo by US Department of Energy

Hanford Waste Treatment Plan's Pretreatment Facility as seen from the center of the construction site. Photo by US Department of Energy

A new report says plans to get an early start at cleaning up some radioactive waste at Hanford may not work the way managers envisioned. The document is the latest criticism of a project to treat waste at the southeast Washington nuclear site.

The Department of Energy is building a massive complex designed to turn 56 million gallons of radioactive waste into glass logs. Hanford managers had hoped to get a head start on one facility to treat lower level waste.

But the Department of Energy’s own inspector general now finds that they underestimated the cost to taxpayers of that roll out. The report also says the technology required hasn’t been tested properly and that permits would need to be modified for that earlier facility to open on time in 2016.

“They want to go fast, and I understand why,” says Tom Carpenter. He heads a Hanford watchdog group.

“And that’s resulted in taking shortcuts and ignoring their safety and quality requirements.”

Hanford managers say they’re already pulling back on plans for the earlier waste facility. A spokeswoman says they’re doing some of the analysis suggested by the report.

On the Web:

Inspector General report:

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/IG-0871.pdf

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 N3. To see more, visit http://www.nwnewsnetwork.org/.

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