Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski

Oregon to Join Hanford Cleanup Lawsuit

Oregon will seek to join Washington state in a lawsuit to speed the cleanup of radioactive waste at Hanford Nuclear Reservation, officials announced on Feb. 25.

"This suit is about compelling the federal government to uphold its commitment to protect fully our environment and our citizens," Gov. Ted Kulongoski said. "Further delay is unacceptable. The federal government must make this clean up a priority and meet its obligations to address the environmental and public health risks that the Hanford site continues to pose."

The agreement with EPA and Washington state's Department of Ecology requires the U.S. Department of Energy to stabilize 53 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste, much of it stored in 149 aging, leak-prone single-shell underground tanks. The 1989 agreement initially called for the treatment plant to be operational by 1999. After repeated extensions, the Energy Department is still likely at least a decade away from the treatment facilities coming on line, Oregon officials said. Although most of the free liquids have been moved out of the single-shell tanks, about 30 million gallons of waste remains in these tanks and further delays in getting the treatment facilities operational greatly increases the risk of future leaks and further environmental harm.

Unable to agree on a new schedule for operating the treatment facilities and for retrieving waste from the older tanks, Washington last November filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Energy Department of failing to abide by the 1989 agreement.

Oregon has filed papers seeking to join the suit. Oregon has a strong interest in the cleanup because the Columbia River flows through the Hanford site. Cleanup delays increase the risk of serious environmental damage to the river.

Washington state officials cheered the Oregon governor's announcement.

"We're pleased that Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has joined us in this important lawsuit," Gov. Chris Gregoire stated. "The federal cleanup at Hanford has been far too slow in achieving the critical environmental results mandated in the three-party cleanup agreement, which the federal government committed to. Washington and Oregon depend on clean, safe water to support their economies and the health and well being of their citizens. In the Washington and Oregon counties south of Hanford, 57,000 companies rely on water to provide 780,000 jobs."

Download Center

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2021

    October 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING
      On Route To Safe Material Handling
    • SAFETY CULTURE
      Normalization of Deviations in Performance
    • IH:INDOOR AIR QUALITY
      Arresting Fugitive Dusts
    • PPE:FOOT PROTECTION
      Safety Shoes Make the Outfit for Well-Protected Workers
    View This Issue