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Governor Gregoire: Hanford Cleanup Should Be a National Priority for Full Funding

For Immediate Release: February 9, 2007

OLYMPIA – Governor Chris Gregoire today responded to the impact of President Bush’s proposed budget on the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear site. US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman this week called Governor Gregoire to inform her that there is good news in the budget for at least some portions of the cleanup efforts. Responding to the news, Governor Gregoire said:

“The Washington delegation has worked tirelessly to ensure that the cleanup of Hanford is a national priority. The vitrification plant is the cornerstone for cleaning up Hanford and protecting the Columbia River. I appreciate Secretary Bodman's decision to resume construction on one of the highest priorities in Washington.

“I am glad to see that funding for the vitrification plant has been restored, but I am concerned that some important cleanup work still remains deferred under the President’s proposal. I remain committed, with our delegation, to strongly supporting full funding for nuclear waste cleanup at Hanford and all other Department of Energy sites across the country.”

Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy have briefed state officials about the President’s proposed federal budget as it relates to the Hanford site. The budget would restore funding for the Waste Treatment Plant to the previously committed level of $690 million per year, but defers some important work, such as:

  • Retrieving and treating buried waste that contains long-lived radioactive elements; and
  • Treating mixed, low-level radioactive waste generated and stored at the site.

As director of the Washington Department of Ecology from 1988 to 1992, Governor Gregoire negotiated the Tri-Party Agreement that secured the federal government’s commitment that they would fund and complete the site cleanup within established milestones. As Attorney General, she fought to ensure that the Tri-Party Agreement stayed on track.