Feds, Washington State Reach Agreement on Hanford Cleanup

After years of bitter wrangling, the federal government and Washington state on Friday reached an agreement on a timeline for cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southern Washington. Under the deal, the U.S. Energy Department will treat the equivalent of several hundred thousand barrels of radioactive waste, retrieving less-radioactive waste from underground by 2010 and more highly radioactive waste, which must be handled by robots, by 2018. The parties must consult Indian tribes and consider public comments before the deal can become final. Still outstanding is the controversial issue of whether plutonium-contaminated waste can be shipped to Hanford from other states for inspection and repacking; this question will need to be resolved by a federal court.