Feds warn state more Hanford cleanup deadlines at risk

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on June 7, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 7 at 7:06 PM

State leaders are disappointed that the federal government is in jeopardy of missing two important deadlines at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a statement expressing their displeasure with the notice from the Department of Energy, which oversees the cleanup of Hanford.

“The people of Washington deserve answers. The U.S. Department of Energy must show the State that it is doing everything within its power to avoid or minimize any possible delays,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Over 50 million gallons of waste leftover from more than 40 years of nuclear weapon production are being cleaned up Hanford. Millions of gallons of that waste have already leaked into the ground and water table at Hanford. Six underground tanks are known to be leaking today.

The DOE warned state officials today that deadlines for cleaning up one of the older and more vulnerable tanks farms at Hanford may be missed, as well as the completion of a plant to process low level waste.

“The Department of Energy has notified the states of Washington and Oregon that meeting two Consent Decree milestones is at serious risk. The Department is making these notifications out of an abundance of caution and will continue working with its contractors to mitigate the factors that contributed to these circumstances,” said DOE spokesperson Lindsey Geisler.

“Removing the waste from these aging tanks and completing the Waste Treatment Plant are two of the state’s highest priorities for cleanup at Hanford,” said Governor Inslee. “We expect the federal government to do everything within its power to avoid or minimize any possible delays in meeting all its legal and moral requirements to protect the health of our residents and the Columbia River. We are evaluating all our options to ensure those commitments are met.”

Governor Inslee has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the pace of the cleanup that has continually missed deadlines.

Watch: KING 5 Investigators series - Hanford's Dirty Secrets.

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