The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency region that includes the Hanford nuclear reservation will be led by Alaska state commerce commissioner Chris Hladick.
Hladick will join the agency as administrator for its Region 10 office in Seattle in December, according to EPA.
EPA is one of the three Tri-Party Agreement agencies that set legally binding cleanup deadlines at Hanford. EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology are parties to the agreement as Hanford regulators and the Department of Energy, which is responsible for Hanford cleanup, is the third agency.
In joining the EPA, Hladick will oversee a region that includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and about 270 tribes.
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Hladick previously held city manager roles in several small Alaska communities, including Unalaska and Dillingham.
When Hladick was city manager of Unalaska, the city settled a lawsuit with the EPA for $340,000 for Clean Water Act violations by the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in a release said Hladick’s passion for helping others, experience in managing government departments and familiarity with regional issues make him a “perfect fit” for the new job.
His pick won praise from Alaska’s Republican congressional delegation, plus Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who has been an advocate for Hanford cleanup.
“Hladick’s experience in both the private sector and local and state government provide him with collaboration experience that will be vital to move projects forward,” Simpson said. “I look forward to working with him.”
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Hladick knows the issues communities face when dealing with the EPA. Rep. Don Young said Hladick can begin rebuilding a level of trust and confidence in the EPA that Young says eroded under the Obama administration.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said Alaska’s delegation had been “relentlessly pushing” to have an Alaskan serve as the regional administrator. He said Pruitt worked with the delegation to find a well-qualified candidate.