Difficult Choices

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Post-holiday contemplation can be very fruitful. I’ve been thinking about the “Sophie’s Choices” we are faced with every day regarding Hanford cleanup. I know this is a dramatic statement.  I am not typically given to drama, but after attending a filming last week watching and listening to Ecology, DOE and Bechtel talk about the Waste Treatment Plant currently under construction I was both encouraged and discouraged. The budget numbers are out for 2014. Hanford is being provided with an enormous amount of money for cleanup for both of the Department of Energy field offices; Richland Operations and the Office of River Protection. It feels ungrateful to say it is not enough but it really is not enough. Not enough to meet Tri-Party agreement milestones, not enough to develop preliminary activities to support some future cleanup actions, not enough to move forward on groundwater and vadose zone remediation on the Hanford site and more.

Choices will have to be made. Actually, I think most of those major choices have already been made – directed by the higher-ups located in Washington, D.C. in various and sundry governmental agencies. We keep pushing off a variety of cleanup actions to some date in the future to be paid for by our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

All that being said, I am still hopeful that I will be alive to attend the start up ceremony for the Waste Treatment Plant. A safe, successful operating plant to vitrify the 56 million gallons of waste stored in underground tanks is the star we are all reaching for. The number of hardworking, technically astute folks working on that goal of Hanford cleanup is staggering, including those of us volunteering our time and effort in a variety of ways: attending public meetings, volunteering on the Hanford Advisory Board, talking with friends and neighbors about Hanford cleanup, encouraging young people to get educated on Hanford issues…the list goes on and on. Sharing the value of remediating and protecting our water is incredibly important, it is fundamental to survival. Hanford is filled with beautiful animals, incredible plants, Indian cultural resources, historical industrial artifacts, and for me – good memories.

Susan Leckband
Wife, mother, grandmother and former Hanford worker.

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