Wash. nuclear cleanup plan criticized

May 2, 2012 at 3:21 PM
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HANFORD, Wash., May 2 (UPI) -- Washington State's plan for dealing with dangerous waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is incomplete and fails to address safety issues, critics say.

A draft of the 10-year "dangerous waste permit" issued by Washington's Department of Ecology fails to consider imports of new radioactive waste and the ultimate cleanup plan for polluted land and water at the former nuclear weapons production site, they said.

Activists said state regulators have failed in create safe guidelines for the U.S. Department of Energy, which is conducting the nation's largest nuclear cleanup effort at the Hanford site.

The department plans to bury and cap most of the contamination instead of removing it and bring even more nuclear waste to Hanford, they said, and the permit as it stands does not address that.

"They're saying, 'We're going to give you a permit even though this is a non-compliant facility and there's no closure plan,'" Gerry Pollet, executive director of the Hanford watchdog group Heart of American Northwest, told The Oregonian.

State officials said the permit requires the Department of Energy to apply for a permit modification if it wants to bring in more waste.

The state will also monitor cleanup operation in coming years to make sure they meet state law, they said.

"We're talking about decisions that are years down the road," Department of Ecology spokesman Dieter Bohrmann said. "We feel comfortable reissuing the draft permit now realizing that we're going to continue to look at all our options."

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