Murray presses DOE to fund Hanford cleanup


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Efforts to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater at the Hanford nuclear site continue, but US Sen. Patty Murray said a proposal to slash Hanford’s budget by $190 million is troubling.

Murray, Washington’s senior senator, questioned Secretary of Energy of Ernest Moniz on the 1000 waste sites still awaiting cleanup. She asked for his commitment “that these critical projects will be funded.”

“We have made great strides, but I feel, really fear, this budget overall foreshadows a decision by DOE to claim victory … and walk away from all the other cleanup,” Murray said

Moniz said they will fund projects, but certain robotic technologies must first be developed.

“We can’t just go in and move the dirt out until we develop the robotics,” he said.

A DOE spokeswoman in February said the proposed budget for the Richland Operations Office would drop by $190 million from spending this year, but that the Office of River Protection, which is responsible for the tanks holding waste, would see a budget increase of $86 million.

But Dan Serres with the Columbia River Keepers said there is more that can be done immediately to stop radioactive and chemical pollution from reaching the river.

“What they are short-changing in the proposed budget are the part of the Hanford clean-up that aren’t rocket science or new robotics,” Serres told KOIN 6 News. “It’s digging holes and moving very contaminated soil.”

But Moniz gave not hint the Department of Energy might reduce those cuts and instead talked about targeting high risk areas.

“We are trying to prioritize the risks, but let’s work together on that and come back with a plan,” he said.

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