Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Hanford News Conference
December 16, 2002
Good morning. Thank you for coming
Today I am pleased to announce that the state has reached an agreement with the U. S. Department of Energy to develop milestones for shipping and storing transuranic and other buried waste at the Hanford site in Richland.
Ecology Director Tom Fitzsimmons, Attorney General Christine Gregoire, and I have adamantly stated that Hanford would accept no additional waste shipments, even for temporary storage, until the U.S. Department of Energy developed milestones for the removal of current similar waste from the site.
This agreement, reached Friday, will provide us with that provision and we look forward to working with the Department of Energy to ensure these provisions are met.
This agreement means
* By March 1, 2003, we will have a timeframe in place for the cleaning of waste generated by Hanford.
* For every waste shipment sent to be held in Hanford, two shipments of waste will be removed from our state.
* The Department of Energy has reaffirmed its commitment to address our issues and ensure the safe handling and disposal of waste to the site
This issue was not resolved without the hard work of a number of dedicated people on behalf of our state.
I especially want to note the efforts of Gov. Mike Lowry and Ecology Director Tom Fitzsimmons.
I sent Gov. Lowry and Tom went to Washington, DC at my request to meet with senior officials from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Their goal was to get a deal done. And they delivered. After a number of long meetings on Friday, we finally got the assurances that we wanted.
My thanks to both of you for your commitment to this effort. Congratulations on a job well done.
I also would like to commend the efforts of the Attorney General and her office.
Chris and I agreed months ago that we would go to court to stop any shipments into Washington without an agreement to remove waste already at Hanford.
Chris was prepared to go to court last Friday if an agreement was not reached.
We were fortunate to have her expertise on stand-by if legal action had been necessary.
Also, I must thank our two U.S. Senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, for their help during negotiations on Friday.
Senator Cantwell even called Jessie Roberson, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, to support the state’s negotiations.
This was definitely a collective effort and a successful one and this agreement is an important first step in ensuring the safe and timely handling and removable of waste from Hanford.