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Gov. Inslee’s Strong Statement on Hanford Cleanup Meeting with Energy Secretary

Gov. Inslee meets with Energy Secretary Monday
(Photo by Jeff T. Green/Getty Images)

Gov. Inslee released a statement after Monday’s meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz about issues with the Hanford cleanup and VIT plant.

The meeting came about largely because the Department of Energy has notified state officials they are in danger of missing legally mandated deadlines for having the VIT plant operational by the year 2020,  and recent news that the oldest double-shell waste storage tank at Hanford has leaked again.

In the last year, inspections of tank AY-102 have shown three distinct and sizable leaks between the inner and outer shells of the 1960’s era waste facility.   State officials have become frustrated over what they say is the lack of a detailed firm plan by the department to make sure the VIT plant becomes operational.   They’re also upset over what they say is a lack of direction and leadership from D.O.E. on the matter.

Monday, Inslee said this about his meeting with Moniz.  While he praised the attention Moniz and the D.O.E. have given Hanford in the last year he also said this about a recent government draft about how to deal with the problems at Hanford:

“…Unfortunately, the draft that was shown to us this morning did not contain the comprehensiveness and level of detail that the State has requested for months from our federal partners. While there are aspects of the plan that have merit, we need to have assurance that the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposal will lead to a plan that will be acceptable to the State. I have been considering the State’s options for ensuring an effective and safe Hanford cleanup. In light of today’s meeting, I will be consulting with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and my Department of Ecology and will have more to say on this matter in the coming days.”

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who was also part of the meeting, said in a statement he “had a candid conversation” about the expectations of our state in keeping citizens safe and dealing with the waste tanks.   Ferguson went on to say:

 “We made it clear last month we were expecting a comprehensive plan for a path forward, and I was disappointed with the scope of the federal government’s approach.

My legal team and I will be reviewing the information we received today and continuing our work to provide all available legal options to our clients– the Governor and the Dept. of Ecology– to enforce the obligations set forth in our 2010 consent decree and the Tri-Party Agreement requiring the U.S. Dept. of Energy to clean up the Hanford site.”

 Sounds a bit like a polite way of saying BIG legal action could be coming against the feds for what the state feels is “feet dragging” when it comes to a workable, concise and effective plan to deal with the millions of gallons of waste sitting at Hanford.


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