The Department of Energy has submitted a statement of dispute to the Environmental Protection Agency over DOE’s failure at Hanford to meet a legal deadline at the end of September to start removing radioactive sludge from Hanford’s K West Basin.
When DOE missed the deadline and proposed no new deadline or schedule, EPA began to fine DOE up to $10,000 a week. EPA said the original 2002 date by which sludge removal was to be completed has been extended 13 years.
DOE submitted the statement of dispute Wednesday, but refused to provide the document to the Herald Wednesday or Thursday and also refused to allow EPA to release it.
“While the dispute process moves ahead, we can say that our goal remains the same — to reach an agreement with the Department of Energy to get this important K Basins cleanup work completed as quickly as possible, helping to protect the Columbia River,” EPA said in a statement Thursday.
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The sludge is stored in underwater containers in a basin built in the 1950s about 400 yards from the river.