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Nuclear Waste Program

Ecology deems USDOE’s AY-102 pump plan unacceptable

March 10, 2014

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (USDOE) pump plan demonstrates the federal government’s lack of commitment to set a firm, near-term schedule for the removal of waste from leaking double-shell tank AY-102.

Ecology requested from USDOE a revised plan and schedule for emptying AY-102 at the earliest practicable time, as required by state regulations. The revised plan, submitted late Friday, admits the federal government’s obligation to remove the waste from this tank.

Ecology is still evaluating the technical details of the plan. However, on initial review, the plan lacks accountability for USDOE to meet its obligations under state law. The plan outlines only activities in preparation for pumping the tank, and even these are not scheduled to be completed until 2016. The state does not have confidence that any of the dates in this plan are achievable as they are attached to potential events that could impact schedules and cause further delays.

The announcement last week that a third leak has been discovered in this tank only reinforces the need to start pumping the liquid waste now. Waiting for two more years, at best, to address this hazardous condition is neither legally acceptable nor environmentally prudent.

We recognize the issues that USDOE is concerned with regarding available tank space, cost, and the absence of immediate danger to the public. However, those do not mitigate the need to take all precautions to avoid further risk to human health and the environment.

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