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Feds Propose Plan for Hanford’s Tank Waste Challenges

Ted S. Warrena
Associated Press

There’s a new plan for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The federal government is looking for ways to process certain types of radioactive waste more quickly, while managers there figure out how to solve major technical challenges at its massive Waste Treatment Plant.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz released the new framework Tuesday after a year of study.

The plan addresses leaking underground tanks at Hanford. It calls for working around the expensive, complex, and controversial Pretreatment and High Level Waste facilities. Some options include treating the radioactive waste partially in the tanks before it ever reaches the treatment plant. Another option would send some waste to a federal site in New Mexico.

And the federal government says it needs an interim facility to store the glassified waste at Hanford, since no national repository has been identified.

Moniz proposes to work on all these plans at the same time to hasten cleanup. Washington state officials say they’re encouraged but want more technical details. 

Hanford critics say the new plan fails to include new tanks. And say it’s not clear what all this will cost. 

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.