HANFORD NUCLEAR WASTE
compiled by Dee Finney
|Hanford Department of Energy, Indian Nations Program
The DOE is responsible for the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear site in southeastern Washington state. Four tribes have cultural or treaty rights to the lands of Hanford, including the Nez Perce, the Umatilla, Yakima and Wanapum. This site describes the working relationships between Native Americans and the DOE. Some information about the environmental offices of these nations. (1997).
Hastings criticizes Initiative 297
This story was published Thursday, August 26th, 2004
By Annette Cary Herald staff writer
Hanford could end up as the permanent burial ground for far more of the radioactive wastes produced during World War II and the Cold War if voters approve Initiative 297, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., warned Wednesday.
The warning came as a break from the congressman's long-held policy of remaining publicly neutral on state ballot initiatives. Initiatives are for voters, not elected officials, to decide, he believes.
But I-297 would be so harmful that he is publicly opposing it, Hastings said in a speech to the Tri-City Area Chamber of Commerce.
"It is deeply flawed and should be defeated," he said.
The initiative to be decided in November would attempt to block nuclear waste from being imported to Hanford from other Department of Energy weapons sites. Supporters want no more radioactive waste to be brought to Hanford while DOE still has massive amounts of waste to clean up there from the past production of plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.
"We in the Tri-Cities know that the most dangerous wastes at Hanford are on schedule to be shipped out of our community and out of our state for storage at national repositories in other states," Hastings said.
But refusing to accept waste from other sites could jeopardize that plan, he said.
Waste now scheduled to be shipped from Hanford to other states includes 10,000 canisters of glassified high-level waste from underground tanks, 104,000 nuclear reactor fuel rods, 18 tons of plutonium-bearing materials and 2,000 nuclear waste capsules, he said. In addition, work has started on shipping 120,000 drums of plutonium-contaminated waste to a repository in New Mexico.
The planned shipments from Hanford would contain 90 percent of the radioactivity in the site's nuclear wastes, Hastings said. The materials would go to Nevada, New Mexico and South Carolina.
Shipments planned to be sent to Hanford, some of which would be permanently buried there, would hold less than 1 percent of the radioactivity already at the site, he said.
"The fundamental failure of I-297 is that while it tries to keep waste from coming into Washington state, it gambles all of Hanford's massive volumes of nuclear waste that other states won't do the same thing," he said.
"If Washington loses the I-297 gamble, then we may get to forever keep the 90 percent of Hanford waste currently headed out of our state."
That's not all that's wrong with the initiative, Hastings said.
It also would establish a new tax on the federal cleanup dollars coming into the state and divert money away from cleanup of contaminated ground water, soil and buildings at Hanford, he said.
Some of that tax would be required to be given away to interest groups, including the groups that wrote the initiative and put it on the ballot, he said. Heart of America has spent $446,000 on the initiative, according to state lobbying reports.
More than twice that much money could be diverted annually to interest groups from cleanup money if the initiative passes, Hastings said.
Some money also would be used to start a new public advisory board, he said. However, that would simply duplicate the Hanford Advisory Board, which has been providing Hanford advice for a decade, he said.
DOE honors Hanford project
This story was published Thursday, August 26th, 2004
By Annette Cary Herald staff writer
With work well under way on decontaminating Hanford's Plutonium Finishing Plant, managers are expecting that project to proceed as smoothly as the plant's plutonium stabilization and packaging project.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham recognized the stabilization and packaging project with an honorable mention in the Department of Energy's annual Project Management Awards ceremony this month.
For 30 years, the plant, called PFP, turned plutonium produced in nuclear reactors into metal buttons the size of hockey pucks for shipment to the nation's weapons production facilities.
When production ceased in 1989, nearly 20 tons of material containing 4.4 tons of plutonium were left in the plant in various stages of production. Workers spent four years stabilizing the plutonium and packaging it, finishing in February.
"One of our great successes has been a strong focus on the importance of sound and professional project management, which has required resourceful, innovative and dedicated, hard-working teams," Abraham said in a prepared congratulations to DOE's PFP team and seven other award winners. Fluor Hanford is the contractor in charge of the PFP project.
Contaminated materials have been packed into containers and sent to an underground repository near Carlsbad, N.M. In addition, 2,300 containers of plutonium are being guarded in a vault at Hanford until they can be shipped to the nuclear site in Savannah River, S.C., where other plutonium is being held.
But an estimated 165 pounds of plutonium was left at PFP after packaging was completed.
"It was spread through from years of production," said George Jackson, who managed the stabilization and packaging project for Fluor and now is executive vice president and chief operating officer at Fluor Hanford.
About 6,000 feet of duct work, 190 glove boxes for safe handling of radioactive materials and thousands of feet of process and drain lines were contaminated with plutonium.
About a third of that, which Fluor calls "hold-up" material, has been recovered. The legal deadline for removing all of that plutonium is Sept. 30, 2006.
In addition, the 14-acre PFP complex has about 60 buildings. Fluor has begun work to clean those and demolish them down to slabs on the ground.
The goal is to complete all work by March 31, 2009, Jackson said.
The original stabilization and packaging project was one of the best Jackson has been associated with, he said.
"All during it, the work force overcame one obstacle after another," he said.
Work included designing the systems and coming up with new methods to stabilize the plutonium when those used elsewhere in the DOE complex proved inadequate.
Many of the same workers will be doing the decontamination and decommissioning, giving Jackson confidence that the project will proceed with the same tenacious effort, he said.
The staff will be expanded from about 500 to about 650. The additional employees will include Hanford and other nuclear site workers with expertise in decontamination and decommissioning, Jackson said.
The three projects winning the top DOE awards for project management were the Stanford Positron Electron Asymmetric Ring 3 Upgrade Project, the Tritium Facility Modernization and Consolidation Project Team at Savannah River and the Laboratory for Comparative and Functional Genomics Project Team at Oak Ridge, Tenn.
n Reporter Annette Cary can be reached at 582-1533 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
AND THEIR BORGS
IN RESPONSE TO A DEBATE CONCERNING THE VIABILITY OF THE MANHATTAN PROJECT:
Date: 8/30/00 12:27:39 AM Pacific
Human Radiation Experiments
The Office of Human Radiation Experiments, established in March
1994, leads the Department of Energy's efforts to tell the agency's Cold
War story of radiation research using human subjects. We have undertaken
an intensive effort to identify and catalog relevant historical
documents from DOE's 3.2 million cubic feet of records scattered across
the country. Internet access to these resources is a key part of making
DOE more open and responsive to the American public.
Chapter 11: Introduction At the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, dozens of intentional releases were conducted in an effort to develop radiological weapons, some in tests of prototype cluster bombs, others using different means of dispersal; at Bayo Canyon in New Mexico, on the AEC's Los Alamos site, researchers detonated nearly 250 devices, which contained radiolanthanum (RaLa) as a source of radiation to measure the degree of compression and symmetry of the implosion used to trigger the atomic bomb. Other intentional releases were not classified, although not all were made known to the public in advance. At AEC sites in Nevada and Idaho, radioactive materials were released in tests of the safety of bombs, nuclear reactors, and proposed nuclear rockets and airplanes; in still other cases, small quantities of radioactive material were released in and around AEC facilities and in the Alaskan wilderness to determine the pathways such material follows in the environment. Public witnesses from several of these communities told the Committee that they remain deeply disturbed by these releases, wondering whether there is still more information about the secret releases in their communities that they do not know and how much will, at this late date, be impossible to reconstruct.
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