Hanford Waste Cleanup
6:08 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Federal and Washington State Court-Ordered 40-Day Negotiations Are Up

This week is the deadline for the state of Washington and the federal government to reach an agreement on how to clean up radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The two sides can’t agree on a timeline. But with this week’s 40-day deadline it seems the state and the U.S. Department of Energy have very different views of where things are.

This week is the deadline for the state of Washington and the federal government to reach an agreement on how to clean up radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
This week is the deadline for the state of Washington and the federal government to reach an agreement on how to clean up radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Credit Tobin Fricke / Wikimedia Commons

In statements released this week, the federal Department of Energy says, “the discussions to date have been constructive.” Meanwhile, the state says that after 40 days the parties haven’t reached an agreement, and that it is “considering its options.” That could mean legal action.

So far, top officials from Washington state and the federal government have had two face-to-face meetings. One early in May in Washington, D.C., and another here in Richland on May 21st. Those meetings weren’t public.

And information about those discussions is tight. The problem the two governments are trying to hammer out involves an agreement signed by both of them back in 2010. It set deadlines for the retrieval of Hanford’s tank waste and for building and operating a massive factory that would bind up the sludge in glass logs at Hanford. 

The federal Energy department has told Washington officials most of the deadlines in that agreement aren’t going to fly. It says the work is more complicated, and they need steady money from Congress to meet the deadlines.

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