Hanford tank farm work on track, under budget

Work being done with federal economic stimulus money at the Hanford tank farms is on schedule and under budget, according to the Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General.

It audited spending of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money at the tank farms, but made no suggestions for changes or improvements in a letter of report.

Washington River Protection Solutions received $324 million of the $1.96 billion in Hanford economic stimulus money to upgrade infrastructure at the Hanford tank farms, where 53 million gallons of radioactive waste are stored in underground tanks.

The audit found that the tank farm contractor had spent $176.6 million as of late November to complete work that had been estimated to cost $199 million.

Furthermore, Washington River Protection Solutions is expecting to finish all planned work with economic stimulus money $9 million under budget, the audit said. The saved money will allow additional work to be done, it said.

The stimulus money was to be used for work related to 73 goals or milestones, and 34 of those milestones had been met when the audit was done. Of those, 11 milestones were completed at least 30 days early, the audit said.

When all economic stimulus work is completed, 15 additional milestones are expected to be completed at least 30 days early, the audit said.

The audit also found that the economic stimulus money was used for appropriate projects to support a goal of upgrading infrastructure and preparing to deliver radioactive waste to the vitrification plant, where it will be treated.

The Office of Inspector General had planned to see how much earlier work had been done with stimulus money than it would have been done otherwise. But it found that the original contract awarded to Washington River Protection Solutions had not foreseen the level of detail needed to make that comparison.