3 amendments related to Hanford added to bill

Tri-City HeraldMay 21, 2014 

Three amendments related to Hanford were approved and added Wednesday evening to the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

The House could vote on the full bill today.

Just one of the three amendments offered by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., drew debate.

Hastings is proposing that $20 million be restored to the Department of Energy budget for environmental cleanup. The increase could help offset a proposed reduction of about $100 million from the DOE Hanford Richland Operations Office budget by increasing the amount authorized to be spent. The amount still would have to be approved in an appropriations bill.

Hastings argued on the House floor that legal obligations to clean up contamination left from World War II and Cold War nuclear weapons production take precedence over DOE research programs. The additional cleanup money would be taken from spending for nuclear-weapons research, including work done at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., argued that the research is critical to national defense and important to meeting the nation's future energy needs.

The amendment was approved on a voice vote.

Voice votes also approved Hastings' amendments to allow access to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain and to prohibit the study of shipping plutonium to Hanford while Hanford is missing or at risk of missing legal deadlines for environmental cleanup.

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