The U.S. House proposed budget for Hanford in fiscal 2017 would partially restore money cut in the Obama administration’s budget request released in February.
The administration proposed an increase of about $86 million to almost $1.5 billion in fiscal 2017 for the Hanford Office of River Protection, which is responsible for 56 million gallons of waste held in underground tanks and the vitrification plant being built to treat the waste.
But it proposed a cut from current spending of about $190 million to $800 million for the Richland Operations Office, which is responsible for all other environmental cleanup at Hanford after the site was used to produce plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
The House budget proposal would match the administration’s increase for the Office of River Protection and restore about $40 million of the cut to the Richland Operations Office.
The House budget would bring Richland Operations Office spending up to about $838 million.
The administration’s proposed FY 2017 budget cut for Hanford funding, and specifically the Richland Operations Office, would result in cleanup delays, increased total project costs and missed legal milestones.
Rep. Dan Newhouse
The proposed increase comes as the overall environmental management budget for DOE is reduced.
The Richland Operations Office is responsible for projects such as cleaning out and tearing down the Plutonium Finishing Plant, removing radioactive sludge from underwater storage in the K West Basin near the Columbia River and cleaning up a highly radioactive spill beneath the 324 Building near Richland and the Columbia River.
It also is responsible for cleaning up contaminated groundwater and cleanup of other contaminated buildings, waste sites and soil near the river and in central Hanford. Its budget also must cover sitewide services, from security to maintaining roads.
“The administration’s proposed FY 2017 budget cut for Hanford funding, and specifically the Richland Operations Office, would result in cleanup delays, increased total project costs and missed legal milestones within the river corridor,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., when the proposal was released in February.
I find it unacceptable that the president’s budget essentially robs Richland Operations to pay for the Office of River Protection’s waste treatment mission.
Sen. Patty Murray
The U.S. Senate’s proposed Hanford budget is expected to be released today.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called the administration’s budget proposal “inadequate” and “shortsighted” when it was released in February.
She pressed Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz for information on DOE’s plans for cleanup under a reduced budget scenario in March as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“I find it unacceptable that the president’s budget essentially robs Richland Operations to pay for the Office of River Protection’s waste treatment mission,” she said then.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., also grilled Moniz as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. A funding shortfall would endanger continued progress on projects managed by the Richland Operations Office, she said.