Letter: Hanford lab closure risky

April 1, 2014 

The Department of Energy has decided to close the Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility (WSCF laboratory) at Hanford, claiming to save about $12 million. That's about 0.6 percent of Hanford's approximate annual budget of $2 billion. What's the real cost to surrounding communities?

WSCF annually receives and tests 50,000 to 70,000 thousand samples. Most are radioactive, containing low-level isotopes. The vast majority are shipped across the Hanford site and handled without incident, but not all.

The shipping industry handling future samples will be the same one you use to send packages. Thousands of radioactive samples will go to offsite labs, shipped through our communities like teddy bears or car parts.

Any sample leaks happen at Hanford. If WSCF closes, accidents will be closer to home. To save a half penny out of every two dollars it spends, DOE is shifting vulnerabilities to our communities. You'll take the risk involved with radioactive samples of soil, air and water.

WSCF has done this work successfully for more than 20 years. Tell DOE to keep and fully fund WSCF. Call your governor, senators and representatives.

As Tri-City resident and WSCF worker, I wonder: Why accept any risk to yourself or your family for so little in return?

JAN OLSEN, Kennewick

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