Hanford Officials Agree On New Clean Up Deadlines

RICHLAND, Wash. - The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is famously home to 53 million gallons of radioactive sludge. But over it's long history, the site has also collected scads of work materials, lab supplies and clothing that are also contaminated. Now, federal and state officials have agreed on a new set of deadlines for cleaning up that tricky waste.

After 1970, Hanford managers started putting these radioactive items in wooden boxes and drums and dumping them in dozens of dirt ditches. At that time they didn't know what else to do with the waste. Now, the federal government has a huge tunnel in New Mexico to bury this kind of contaminated trash. A new proposed agreement between the federal government and Washington state sets deadlines to clean up that waste by 2035. John Price is with Washington State Ecology.

John Price: “This fills in a missing part of the Hanford cleanup story. Because we never had deadlines to get this type of waste off of the site. So we are really pleased and we think this is a good deal.”

But Seattle-area Hanford watchdog Jerry Pollet says the federal government isn't cleaning up the waste fast enough.

Copyright 2010 Northwest Public Radio