State, federal agency agree on Hanford cleanup deadlines

Washington state and federal officials announced a court-enforceable schedule Tuesday for cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site, ending more than two years of negotiations that followed dozens of missed deadlines.

Washington state sued the Energy Department last November over missed cleanup deadlines, though the two sides settled part of the lawsuit in February. That agreement accelerated cleanup of contaminated groundwater along the neighboring Columbia River, and both sides said it would shrink the 586-square-mile site to just 75 square miles by 2015.

The consent decree that was filed Tuesday morning with the U.S. District Court in Spokane sets new deadlines for the remaining points of contention: emptying underground waste tanks and building a plant to treat that waste.

The parties also agreed to review the schedule every six years.

The Associated Press