Letter: Unnecessary delays at Hanford

April 21, 2014 

A Department of Energy Construction Project Review (CPR) of the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) in January stated the vitrification plant's Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility, laboratory and balance of facilities can be completed in 2015.

DOE's Office of River Protection and state Department of Ecology have recently proposed revisions of cleanup milestones with increased budgets and up to eight-year delays in startups. The DOE delay of LAW vitrification operation to 2023 is for construction of a new Direct Feed LAW (DFLAW) facility to remove cesium-137 from tank wastes. The delay may increase to more than 10 years with congressional restrictions on WTP funding.

The existing LAW vitrification facility can be started in 2016 with decanted tank waste feed, without cesium removal, and with installation of supplemental shielding on selected LAW facility equipment. The resulting High-Level Waste (HLW) glass would contain technetium 99, and iodine 129, which are the limiting radioisotopes for disposal at Hanford as LAW, and would be considered for future disposal at a proposed federal repository.

The January WTP CPR recommends ORP, by June 1, 2014, to "consider a complete and rigorous alternatives study for completing the ORP mission that includes, but is not limited to, the DFLAW option."

We, the public, should not stand for another 10-plus years of delay for tank waste vitrification.

ALLYN BOLDT, Kennewick

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