DOE study looks at industrial development at Hanford

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 25, 2012 

The Department of Energy is starting an environmental study on transferring 1,641 acres of the nuclear reservation for industrial development to create new jobs.

The Tri-City Development Council, which has been designated a community reuse organization for Hanford, has requested 1,341 acres near Richland city limits on the northwest corner of Horn Rapids Road and Stevens Drive. It's been joined in that request by the city of Richland, the Port of Benton and Benton County.

In addition, TRIDEC has requested 300 acres to the north of the larger parcel for a clean energy park in conjunction with Energy Northwest.

However, DOE will look at more acreage than requested by TRIDEC, according to a Federal Register notice.

It is proposing also studying 2,772 additional acres next to the requested parcels, with a goal of studying the environmental impacts of transferring approximately 1,641 acres of the total of 4,413 acres evaluated.

DOE may still have use for some of the land requested by TRIDEC, said DOE spokesman Cameron Hardy. For instance, the requested land includes a gravel borrow pit that DOE might yet need.

Looking at a larger area benefits the TRIDEC proposal, said Gary Petersen, TRIDEC vice president of Hanford projects.

It helps make sure that if the requested land has restrictions, easements or other issues that would cut into the amount of acreage available, nearby land could be used to make up the difference. It also would speed up the study process if more land eventually is transferred.

DOE has a comprehensive land-use plan for the 586 square miles of Hanford that reserves most land for preservation or conservation as environmental cleanup is completed from the past production of weapons plutonium. However, it also sets aside about 10 percent of the land for industrial use, including some land near Richland.

TRIDEC has proposed that the 1,341-acre parcel it has requested be divided into a 900-acre site that could be used for one or two large enterprises providing 2,000 to 3,000 jobs combined. In addition, three smaller 100- to 200-acre sites would support another 400 to 500 jobs combined.

TRIDEC's goal is to replace jobs lost at Hanford as portions of environmental cleanup are completed or less federal money is spent on the project.

"TRIDEC thinks this is a tremendous opportunity to attract manufacturers," Petersen said.

It's particularly interested in manufacturers of high-tech products or those that would require some technical skills in the workforce, such as a plant manufacturing advanced batteries being developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland or manufacturing small modular nuclear reactors.

The property has 250 megawatts of power available, water from the city of Richland, rail service and barge service to the ocean.

If TRIDEC does not have an industry immediately available to use the land, it would transfer the land to Richland or the Port of Benton while industry is recruited.

The 300-acre parcel is planned to be used for clean energy production by Energy Northwest or other companies or agencies.

DOE plans an environmental assessment of the 4,413 acres, rather than a more lengthy environmental impact statement to satisfy requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. It could to be completed in about 18 months.

The public may comment on what should be considered in the proposed study at a meeting Oct. 10 at the Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive. An open house will start at 5:30 p.m., with the formal meeting starting at 6:30 p.m.

Comments also can be sent until Oct. 19 to Paula Call, NEPA document manager, DOE Richland operations Office, P.O. Box 550, MSIN A2-15, Richland, WA, 99352.

-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com

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