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U.S. Dept. of Energy tries to cut corners on Hanford cleanup; get it done faster, cheaper

In light of the recent Hanford "State of the Site" public meetings, as well as the positive accomplishments and problems we face in cleaning up Hanford, I would like to share my observations and concerns.

Last week the Hanford Advisory Board (HAB) met with a full agenda concerning the federal budget for Hanford cleanup, worker pension and safety issues, ground water cleanup actions, update on the Solid Waste EIS (environmental impact statement) and more.

I believe we are facing the worst crisis at Hanford and across the weapons complex that we have faced in my 12 years of involvement. We have a crisis in cleanup "philosophy" or attitudes of this administration. Department of Energy Headquarters (DOE HQ) in D.C. has taken control of management to the point that management at the Hanford site seems to have lost all of its power.

The Tri-Party Agreement (TPA), a legally binding roadmap to cleanup, and the environmental laws that govern the cleanup of lethal and long-lasting wastes are being "held hostage" by DOE HQ. The administration's current attempts to reclassify waste, and hold back cleanup dollars until the courts give a "satisfactory" answer is typical in our new "Age of Secrecy." This in turn impacts the cleanup budget.

Even more important, many of the new initiatives impact the health and safety of this region now and for future generations. The buzzword for the new philosophy is "acceleration." Faster, cheaper. At the annual State of the Site meetings held around the region, citizens demanded quality cleanup, long- lasting cleanup, honesty, reality. Are we getting that?

[ Hanford Watch ]

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