Senators grill U.S. Energy Secretary on Hanford cuts and what he’ll ‘kick down the road’

Source: Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald, March 3, 2020

The nation’s new energy secretary faced a tough crowd when he explained the administration’s proposed 28 percent cut to the Hanford budget at recent Senate hearings.

Among work that would be halted under the reduced budget is the cleanup of highly radioactive waste that has leaked from a building into soil a mile north of the city of Richland and near the Columbia River.

It’s part of the shifting of priorities at Hanford, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., at a Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.

Efforts have been refocused on starting to vitrify, or glassify, some of the site’s radioactive waste stored in underground tanks, he said.

Murray is particularly concerned about the cut of 39 percent proposed for the DOE Hanford Richland Operations Office, which would leave its funding at $556 million.

The Richland Operations Office is responsible for operating the 580-square-mile-site and all environmental cleanup except work to manage and treat the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste held in underground tanks, some of them prone to leaking.

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