At 5:30 PM today, the Hanford cleanup agencies will hold the public meeting (on-line) that is required by the Hanford Cleanup Agreement (“Tri-Party Agreement” or “TPA”) to give the public the information needed to comment on the federal Energy Department’s proposed budgets for Hanford cleanup in the coming years. (Link and info below).

Budgets are where the real decisions about cleanup priorities are made. Often, schedules and decisions made to cleanup areas and groundwater are made in the TPA, only to be repeatedly delayed when USDOE failed to request funding – or failed to prioritize the funding – to do the cleanup work. Now, we have a leaking High Level Nuclear Waste tank and USDOE refusing to fund emptying the tank – even though federal and state laws require immediate action to empty leaking tanks.

This email is to help you voice your opinion and share concerns today if you join the online meeting - because we know this is going to be frustrating due to USDOE's refusal to provide information. OR, use the bullets below to email in your comments to CleanupPriorities@rl.gov

For the coming federal fiscal year beginning October 1st (FY’22), USDOE’s requested $2.56 billion from Congress for Hanford Cleanup. This is obviously a great deal of money. But this is $110 million LESS than Congress appropriated for Hanford Cleanup this year – while there are new urgent needs, such as emptying the waste from leaking High-Level Nuclear Waste tank B-109 (USDOE only belatedly announced this leak on April 29th).

The annual meeting being held today is required by the TPA to enable regulators (Washington State Dept. of Ecology), Tribes and the public to review USDOE’s plans and “target” funding for FY’23 and outyears. Will USDOE fail again to ask for funds to remove waste from the leaking High Level Nuclear Waste Tank?

We are incredibly frustrated that USDOE is refusing to provide both Ecology and the public any of the information it is legally required to share in order for regulators to be able to determine if the funds requested are enough – or prioritized – to fund the cleanup work legally required under the TPA and hazardous waste laws in 2023 and beyond. This is a pattern that USDOE began under the past Administration, and it is intolerable that nondisclosure has continued.

Key points for today’s meeting – which we encourage you to voice strongly and ask Ecology to take enforcement action to require disclosure:
  • USDOE is repeating its refusal to provide the public, regulators or Tribes with its proposed budget blueprint, work to be funded and prioritization for the coming years in violation of the Tri-Party Agreement. 
  • The comment period (and required public meeting) is rendered entirely useless by USDOE refusing to provide the public with the most basic information needed to comment on what should or should not be funded and at what level, and what it would cost. 
  • Without disclosure, Ecology can’t do its jog as a regulator to ensure that cleanup funding is going to be used for the required cleanup work and not other USDOE priorities.
  • Ecology, the Hanford Advisory Board and the public have repeatedly objected to the violation of the TPA and total hamstringing of Ecology as a regulator as well as the public by failing to provide the budget plans and costs. It’s time for Ecology to enforce the budget disclosure provisions of the Hanford Cleanup Agreement (TPA paragraphs 148 and 149).
  • USDOE recently admitted that another High Level Nuclear Waste Tank (B-109) is leaking – and will keep leaking unless emptied. Federal and state hazardous waste laws say leaking tanks have to be emptied immediately. But USDOE refuses to plan to empty the waste. (Watch for news updates from us as we’ve documented that USDOE knew this tank was leaking for over two years before reporting the leak).
  • Join us to insist that USDOE prioritize funds to remove drainable liquid waste from B-109 starting Oct 1 with the new fiscal year, and to include the funds for using available pumping techniques and the "SAFE" offsite treatment and disposal of the removed waste.

Here’s the announcement and info on how to sign on at 5:30 today and the email to send in comments.
DOE will provide an overview of Hanford’s current projects and the regulatory agencies will provide their perspectives. A question-and-answer session will follow the briefing.
The virtual public workshop will be held July 15 at 5:30 p.m. PT. You can view the presentation, hear the speakers and ask your questions. To participate, please follow the instructions below: 
Visual (presentation only):
Click the GoToWebinar link: https://bit.ly/2QJa0lu
ID #: 927-903-634
1. Dial +1 509-372-3087 (local) or +1 800-664-0771 (long distance)
2. Enter Conference ID: 1333# 
A 30-day public comment period will run from July 15 to August 15, 2021. Please submit written comments no later than August 15 to CleanupPriorities@rl.gov

Thank you for caring and your support,

Gerry Pollet, Director
Heart of America Northwest
"The Public's Voice for Hanford Cleanup"