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Energy Secretary Says Hanford Plant Schedule Might Slip

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant has been scheduled to begin operations in 2019. But U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Thursday that the southeast Washington facility might not start on time.

The comments came in response to questions from U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, during a committee hearing in Washington, D.C. Chu said the proposed budget for 20-13 is not as “aggressive” as his agency had previously planned.

“That funding profile is not in the cards anymore because of our budgets,” Chu told the panel. “So because of that we know that there is a risk that we could slip schedule.”

Hanford’s waste treatment plant would be built with about $50 million less in 2013 than last year under the President’s proposed budget. The plant is meant to bind-up 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge that’s currently sitting in aging, underground tanks near the Columbia River.

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