Over the last several years, Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers have mishandled barrels and boxes of hazardous and radioactive waste in the central part of the site.
Friday, the state of Washington slapped the U.S. Department of Energy with a $15,000 fine.
Washington state’s Department of Ecology is charging Hanford managers a total of $261,000, but suspending most of that as long as the feds adjust their operations.
In late 2011, a leaking box of radioactive waste was found, but Ecology wasn’t informed until months later. And, at another facility, a leaking barrel of chemical and radioactive waste was found, along with a questionable roof at a waste storage facility.
“There were just some really fundamental housekeeping things that were not being done in the way that is approved by the law,” explains Jane Hedges, a state Ecology manager in Richland.
The new agreement calls for the feds and their contractors to notify state regulators of spills immediately and pay more attention to how waste containers and buildings are maintained.