US can label nuke waste as less dangerous to quicken cleanup

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. government will reclassify some of the nation’s most dangerous radioactive waste to lower its threat level.

The U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday that the decision is intended to make it cheaper and easier to clean up nuclear weapons production sites in Washington state, Idaho and South Carolina.

The material has languished for decades in the three states.

Critics say the change is a way for federal officials to walk away from their obligation to properly clean up a massive quantity of radioactive waste left from nuclear weapons production dating to World War II and the Cold War.

The waste is housed at the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina, the Idaho National Laboratory and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.