Cleanup at Hanford could take into 2070s

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UMATILLA INDIAN RESERVATION (KOIN) — Cleaning up the radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Facility will take decades. Some of that waste has already made it into the groundwater and into the Columbia River.

The Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board — a total of 20 citizens, state lawmakers, Oregon DOE and a representative from the confederated tribes — is meeting through Tuesday to brainstorm ideas for cleanup and to push the federal government to act.

The board will also look at the infrastructure needs at Hanford.

Over the years, the amount of contaminated groundwater near the Columbia has been reduced, but pumping out continues in those leaking tanks.

Since the board last met, a federal court set mandatory deadlines for federal cleanup, new treatment facilities and more stringent reporting guidelines.

Officials with the Oregon DOE said the cleanup could last well into the 2060s or 2070s — but the hope is technology will speed things up.

“Worst case is just that Congress would lose interest and quit funding the cleanup and instead of resolving some these issues, it would be fences and barriers to hope the problem goes away, which, of course, it wouldn’t,” said Ken Niles, the assistant director of the Oregon DOE.

KOIN 6 News will have more information on this Tuesday.

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