Billions and Billions Swerved
Cleanup of the most dangerous nuclear waste at the Hanford reservation in Washington state, the most contaminated site in the U.S., will likely be delayed again after the U.S. Department of Energy’s announcement yesterday that it plans to cancel its cleanup contract with BNFL. The move comes two weeks after the company said that the job would cost $15.2 billion, more than double its 1998 estimate of $6.9 billion. With the contract cancellation, the DOE risks missing cleanup deadlines that it had agreed upon with Washington state and the U.S. EPA. Hanford houses 54 million gallons of highly radioactive nuclear waste left over after decades of production of plutonium for nuclear weapons; the waste is stored in underground tanks, some of which are leaking.