Tank Closure & Waste Management
Environmental Impact Statement


Ecology's Issues List

Update--The Office of River Protection has been working to conform the draft TC&WM EIS with the recent U.S. Department of Energy direction to re-evaluate the options for disposal of high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel.  A new schedule for release of the TC&WM EIS is anticipated for release by the end of the July 2009.


The U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) is preparing a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate options for managing and disposing of waste, selecting supplemental treatments, closing tanks, and closing the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) at Hanford. USDOE seeks comments on the scope for the new EIS.


A January 9, 2006, legal settlement requires USDOE to prepare the Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement for the Hanford Site, Richland, Washington. USDOE intends for the EIS to provide a comprehensive and integrated look at near-term waste management and tank waste cleanup actions at Hanford.

What are the key points of the settlement?

  • Expand the existing Tank Closure EIS, which was in development, and incorporate solid waste management decisions into the new EIS.
  • Create a single integrated groundwater analysis that addresses cumulative impacts and waste types in the Hanford Solid Waste EIS.
  • Use the Hanford Solid Waste EIS for limited decision making until the new EIS is complete.
  • Continues Ecology’s designation as a cooperating agency in preparing the new EIS.
  • Prohibit importation of offsite waste except as permitted in existing stipulations.

What is scoping?

The purpose of scoping is to

  • Identify concerns of the affected public and agencies.
  • Refine the issues and alternatives the EIS should examine in detail.
  • Ensure that the draft EIS addresses the right issues.

Scoping addresses the range of cleanup actions, their environmental impacts, and which alternatives to include or rule out. Sometimes the scoping process identifies issues in a proposal, which EIS preparers can address.

What are USDOE’s and Ecology’s roles in the new EIS?

For this EIS, USDOE is the Federal Lead Agency and Ecology is a Cooperating Agency. As the Lead Agency, the USDOE has the primary responsibility for preparing the EIS and the Record of Decision. The Lead Agency is responsible for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. This entails conducting scoping, seeking technical expertise from other agencies, preparing or contracting preparation of the draft EIS, collecting comments, publishing the Final EIS and publishing the Record of Decision.

As a Cooperating Agency, Ecology participates closely with USDOE to provide advice and assistance, particularly in matters like requirements in the State’s Environmental Policy Act and regulatory impacts and requirements. Ecology may offer advice and assistance in other parts of the process, as agreed to by the USDOE. The specific roles and responsibilities of each agency are spelled out in the Memorandum of Understanding between USDOE and Ecology, which is available at http://tinyurl.com/dody4.

What does the new EIS cover?

The EIS will form the basis for making important decisions about Hanford’s cleanup, including:

  • the final condition of the 177 underground tanks that hold high-level nuclear waste
  • the final treatment and disposal of those wastes
  • the final decommissioning of the FFTF
  • on-site disposal alternatives for Hanford’s low-level waste (LLW) and mixed low-level waste (MLLW) and LLW and MLLW from other USDOE sites

The EIS will reanalyze groundwater impacts. It will include a cumulative analysis of sitewide environmental impacts. The new EIS will include a reanalysis of onsite disposal alternatives for low-level and mixed low-level radioactive waste from Hanford and other USDOE sites. (Mixed waste contains both radioactive and dangerous waste components.)

Ecology's Issues List                                 

This list summarizes the issues Washington State Department of Ecology is following as the Tank Closure & Waste Management EIS development proceeds.  This list will be updated at least monthly.  It includes issues on which the two agencies (Ecology and USDOE) are not yet agreed.  Either agency may add an item to the list but both must agree to delete an item.  Missing numbers in the first column reflect items the agencies agreed to delete.


Last update: April 20, 2009


Memorandum of Understanding Issues List


Entry No.




Date & Current Status

Closure Date


March 13, 2006

Ensure all issues addressed in the settlement agreement http://tinyurl.com/dody4  are resolved.

03/06: Ecology is accumulating list information internally.

05/06: Compilation is complete.

03/07: Ecology continues to track the issues as EIS development proceeds.



March 13, 2006

Ensure Ecology’s comments on the Hanford Solid Waste Environmental Impact Statement are resolved in the TC&WM EIS

03/06: Ecology is accumulating list information internally.

05/06: Compilation is complete. The USDOE may expect the first version of the list by June 2006.

06/06: Ecology shared its list with USDOE.  A final list is expected in July. Ecology continues to track the issues as EIS development proceeds.

08/06:  The final list is expected in September.

10/06: Ecology provided the final list to ORP on 09/28 in a list that combined the items on the draft list into groups for response. 

12/06: ORP has not responded to 09/28/06 list.

01/07:  Ecology agreed to establish completion criteria for ORP use in closing items.

06/07:  ORP sent Ecology draft responses and requests for clarification on some of the issues in March 2007.

08/07: Ecology is establishing criteria to close items Ecology staff involved with these comments should make sure to go though these comments and form a unified approach if something needs to be done.

1/08: Ecology submitted to and discussed with DOE a list of issues, and a series of meetings has been set up to go over topical areas.

6/08 – USDOE has completed Ecology’s list of topics.

8/08 – Ecology is conducting quality assurance slices to evaluate this area.

09/08 – Ecology completed quality assurance slices for impacts of fires on affected environment in 2000 and 2007, I-129 bulk vit inventory, supplemental treatment, waste form release, STOMP layering, tritium plume, QA and air.



March 13, 2006

Ensure cumulative assessment is thorough.

03/06: USDOE & Ecology are developing a schedule for briefings.

06/06 and on:  This item will remain open until EIS is much further along in its development.

10/06:  Ecology provided the USDOE with its initial comments on cumulative analysis data.

03/07: USDOE held a workshop on “Alternatives and Cumulative Impacts” on February 15th. Members of the public and the Tribes attended. Designees from the Tribes asked USDOE that the workshop topic in June be on methodology. The workshop is set for June 15.

06/07:  Workshop was held June 6, 2007

05/08: This will remain open until Ecology completes its review of the draft EIS.

8/08: Ecology is conducting quality assurance slices to evaluate this area.



March 13, 2006

Ensure alternative risk assessments are comprehensive.

03/06: USDOE & Ecology are developing a schedule for briefings.

06/06 and on:  This item will remain open until EIS is much further along in its development.



June 28, 2006

Ensure EIS development process is open and transparent.

06/06:  USDOE and Ecology are discussing the development of a communication plan.

07/06: Technical Review Group meeting will be held locally and have open summaries.  USDOE is drafting a communication plan with input from Ecology.

12/06 – Discussion and planning continue.  The Model Technical Review Group met; Ecology staff attended daily in-briefings and close-out meetings.

01/07: ORP published a list of opportunities for public participation in the TC& WM EIS.  The list appears on the USDOE Hanford web site.  

03/07 and on: USDOE put a schedule called “Public information and Outreach Plan” on its website

(http://www.hanford.gov/orp/ “Tank Closure EIS Information”, “EIS Meeting Schedules “)  

06/07: While USDOE has clearly exceeded the requirements of NEPA for public participation, Ecology supports making workshop materials available as handouts and on USDOE’s web site.



October 4, 2007

Ecology’s consultant is still waiting for the information it needs to complete their review of modeling for groundwater, vadose zone, and transport.

12/07:  The information is not yet available.

05/08 Modeling discussions are ongoing.

6/08: On May 15, USDOE has presented the items Ecology’s consultant requested.  USDOE will provide more information if the consultant requests it.

8/08 Ecology’s consultant will be meeting with USDOE’s contractor during August, September, and October to address the remaining questions.  

10/08: This will remain open until Ecology completes its review of the draft EIS.





March 28, 2008

Ecology thinks USDOE should update its website to have an accurate date or reasonable estimate for publishing the draft EIS

04/08: USDOE will revise the draft EIS publish date when that date is certain.





Get Informed

Department of Energy's TC & WM EIS info

STOMP Information and Documentation

NEPA Website

S&W Modeling Sum Report Test

Focus Sheet: Why the Tank Closure and Waste Management EIS Mattters