HANFORD: Senators Murray, Cantwell and Representative Newhouse highlight milestone in Hanford cleanup, urge continued federal work to fulfill obligation to Tri-Cities community

Department of Energy announces a multi-year project to address one of Hanford’s most contaminated areas is complete

(Washington, D.C.) –  U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today joined Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) to recognize Hanford workers for completing cleanup that began in 2009 on a high-hazard waste site, known as the 618-10 Burial Ground. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the burial ground once contained some of the most hazardous waste on the nuclear reservation in southeast Washington. The Congressional members commended this milestone and the employees who worked diligently to complete this project, while urging federal officials, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to continue the Department’s work on a long list of cleanup projects on the Central Plateau that involves about 1,000 waste sites, 500 facilities, and contaminated soil and groundwater. Earlier this year, the members urged the Trump Administration to provide strong funding for Hanford cleanup in order to reduce risks and long-term costs, meet Tri-Party Agreement milestones, and protect the health and safety of the Tri-Cities community, as it puts together its annual budget requests.

“I applaud the thousands of men and women who show up to Hanford every day and who made this milestone possible,” said Senator Murray. “They are carrying out critical work, and in turn, the federal government must always fulfill its obligation to ensure workers and the entire Tri-Cities community have the resources they need to continue cleanup in a safe, efficient manner that leads to everyone’s ultimate goal of this land being restored to its natural state.”

“Cleaning up the 618-10 burial ground was a massive undertaking. The Energy Department’s Richland Office has done an incredible job of decontaminating, demolishing, removing waste and remediating the river corridor,” said Senator Cantwell. “While this is an important milestone, the Hanford cleanup project still remains one of the largest cleanup projects in the world. I will continue to fight to make sure progress continues at Hanford and the Energy Department lives up to the commitment to cleanup this waste.”

“The accomplishment of this cleanup milestone is a testament to the commitment of workers of Hanford and the greater Tri-Cities community,” said Representative Newhouse“This success is an important reminder that a post-cleanup future is in sight for our community, and continued progress requires the federal government to fulfill its legal and moral obligation to finish the job.”

Additional background:

The 618-10 Burial Ground and two adjacent waste sites, about six miles north of the City of Richland, was one of the most challenging nuclear waste cleanup projects within DOE-Richland Operation’s mission. This 7.5-acre burial ground was used to discard radioactive waste created in the 300 Area, which was the center of Hanford’s radiological research and fuel fabrication activities during plutonium production in the 1950s and 1960s. As a result, it contained some of the most hazardous waste at Hanford. In 2009, DOE-Richland Operations began work to identify and characterize the waste and remediation activities began in 2011. Hanford workers removed 94 vertical pipe units which were buried more than 20 feet below ground; retrieved 2,201 contaminated 55-gallon drums; and excavated more than 305,000 tons of overburden and contaminated soil from the 316-4 and 600-63 waste sites, adjacent to the 618-10 Burial Ground. In total, more than 512,000 tons of radioactive contaminated soil and debris was removed from the 618-10 Burial Ground. With the hazardous waste removed, all that remains to be done is backfill the area and plant native vegetation to restore the area to its natural state. The Tri-Party Agreement milestone to complete this work is September 30, 2018. The Congressional members have consistently advocated for sufficient funding in DOE-Richland Operation’s budget to support the completion of the 618-10 Burial Ground.