Ecology statement on notification of more at risk Consent Decree milestones

October 8, 2013 -- The State of Washington was disappointed, but not surprised, to hear from the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) on Tuesday that three more milestones agreed to in the 2010 Hanford Cleanup Consent Decree with the State are at substantial risk of being missed. The formal notice of the latest "at risk" milestones is consistent with informal information we've received from USDOE.

With today's notice, all the remaining deadlines set in the Consent Decree for the construction and operation of Hanford's Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) between now and 2022 appear to be at risk. USDOE previously notified the state of other at risk milestones in November 2011 and June 2013.

The Federal Court Order that established requirements for completing construction and beginning operations of WTP was signed in late 2010 by the State and Federal government with the understanding that all the requirements could be met. It also requires retrieval of waste from 19 of Hanford’s aging underground storage tanks.

In September, the State received a framework document from USDOE that provides a possible path forward on tank retrievals and the WTP. We will require additional technical information and further details on the schedule before we can determine the adequacy of the framework concepts and to clarify the phased approach. USDOE has committed to providing additional details in October, and the State looks forward to receiving and evaluating the additional information.

Removing the waste from aging tanks and completing the WTP are two of the state’s highest priorities for cleanup at Hanford. The federal government owes it to the people of the Northwest 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.