Hanford cleanup could cost more than $100 billion

The board is meeting at the Umatilla Indian Reservation

A sign warns visitors of soil contaminated by radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear site near Richland, Wash. (KOIN)
A sign warns visitors of soil contaminated by radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear site near Richland, Wash. (KOIN)

UMATILLA INDIAN RESERVATION (KOIN) — The Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board — a total of 20 citizens, state lawmakers, Oregon DOE and a representative from the confederated tribes — has wrapped up its latest board meeting by discussing ideas and solutions to cleanup tons of nuclear waste.

Cleaning up the most contaminated nuclear site in America is challenging. The price tag could end up being well more than $100 million and cleanup could take until the 2070s. The process has already been delayed for decades.

“How do we reassure the public that there won’t continue to be these kinds of delays that we’ve been seeing?” said Dirk Dunning with the Oregon Department of Energy. “By just continuing to make progress on the technical issues. Solve each one, move on. That’s about the only way I know how to get there.”

Simply put, it comes down to separating high and low level waste, moving it and treating it.

Maxine Hines is a former board member, but still follows the board meetings and progress. “There’s been a lot of improvement. The [groundwater] plumes are more contained, there’s been a lot of buildings taken down,” says a worried Hines. “That’s when I get really emotional because I want people to care enough to really look to the future instead of just looking for what works and dealing with the budget.”

Dunning thinks about the future, too.

“This is a job that the nation owes to the folks of the region. These wastes are not going to become less dangerous over time.”

The board will meet again in the last week of September in Hood River.

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