Oregon critical of nuclear cleanup plan

July 26, 2011 at 3:03 PM
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HANFORD, Wash., July 26 (UPI) -- Oregon says plans to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in neighboring Washington leave too much radioactive waste at the former nuclear weapons site.

The state of Oregon and the Hanford Advisory Board say the latest version of a $300 million federal plan to clean up plutonium and other radioactive waste dumped in the center of the facility on the Washington side of the Columbia River has improved but would still leave too much contamination in the ground, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Tuesday.

The plan, under discussion for five years, focuses on debris and liquid waste put in underground ditches and cribs in Hanford's central plateau beginning in World War II when plutonium production was in full swing.

The latest plan proposes digging up the contaminated soil and disposing of it in an on-site lined landfill or shipping the most highly contaminated waste to a half-mile deep repository in southern New Mexico.

A unit of the Oregon Department of Energy that scrutinizes Hanford work says it worries because excavation is limited to only 2 feet below the trenches and cribs.

Contamination has been measured up to 121 feet deep at some spots, the state says in its comments on the plan, and it wants Hanford to test soil as it is exposed and removing any hot spots found below the 2-foot mark.

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