State, feds reject each other’s Hanford proposals

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The state of Washington and the U.S. Department of Energy on Friday each rejected the other’s proposal to amend a federal court agreement governing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site.

The state sent a letter to federal lawyers saying the Energy Department’s March 31 proposal that would have eliminated many deadlines for Hanford cleanup “is not acceptable to Washington.”

The Department of Energy says a state proposal also issued March 31 that would have left many deadlines in place was unrealistic.

While the state warns that it might consider legal action, the Energy Department says it wanted to keep negotiating the issues.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and now is engaged in cleaning up the nation’s largest volume of radioactive wastes. The site is near Richland.

The cleanup is governed by a federal court consent decree reached in 2010 that sets strict milestones for the cleanup process. But the Energy Department has said it is in danger of missing many of those milestones because of the scientific complexity of the work.

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