Happy New Year

What are we inheriting at Hanford in 2013?  This new year is already bringing lots of changes and opportunities out at Hanford.  At our last Inheriting Hanford discussion group we had a great conversation about the current state of cleanup out at Hanford and fun brainstorm session of what our predictions and hopes are for 2013.  With State and National elections, this year brings us a new Governor of Washington State, a new head of the WA State Department of Ecology, a new Secretary of Energy, a new manager at the Office of River Protection out at Hanford, and many more new faces-with-potential up and down the organization charts of agencies and contractors.

All of us concerned about a safe and effective cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Site are ready to engage the newest members of the Hanford “community” to ensure transparency of management and a prioritization of safety.  New tools for this year are the additional whistleblower protection provisions in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act which included “best practice” whistleblower protection rights for federal government contractors and passed with the testimony and support from Hanford whistleblower Dr. Walter Tamosaitis.  See Hanford Challenge Press Release for more on these new whistleblower protection provisions.  This could really help other federal contractor employees come forward with important concerns regarding safety and fraud.

With the support of Governor Inslee, hopefully DOE gets on board and moves quickly to construct new waste tanks.  New tanks are needed to safely contain Hanford’s high-level tank waste while we wait for technical issues to be resolved at the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP).

The WTP is under intense scrutiny and the safety of workers in the Hanford Tank Farms continues to be an issue.  This will be a pivotal year for the Waste Treatment Plant.  Will DOE remove Bechtel as the lead contractor on the project?  Will 2013 bring additional independent reviews?  Could this be the year the Department of Energy appropriately divides its missions so it can move forward with real energy policy and the problems of nuclear waste can be solved by a committed and independent agency?  How will Congress fund Hanford cleanup?  Will Washington State step up and increase its oversight capability to ensure permits are written correctly and that environmental laws are enforced?  Has enough information finally surfaced to bring about new thinking and real solutions?  Will the environmental communities of the Northwest see Hanford as an important environmental issue and join us in the struggle to ensure accountability and environmental protection at Hanford? We’ll see as the year unfolds! Happy New Year!

By: Meredith Crafton

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