Hanford

Public gets more time to consider controversial radioactive waste issue

The Department of Energy is proposing changing what is considered high level radioactive waste at Hanford and other sites.
The Department of Energy is proposing changing what is considered high level radioactive waste at Hanford and other sites. AP

The Department of Energy has agreed to extend the public comment period on its proposal to loosen its interpretation of what it considers high level radioactive waste.

The 60-day public comment period, which was set to end Dec. 10, has been extended until Jan. 9

The extension came at the urging of Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and 75 organizations across the nation, including Hanford Challenge, Columbia Riverkeeper, Heart of America Northwest and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Defining less of the nation’s nuclear waste as high level could speed up environmental cleanup at places like the Hanford nuclear reservation and save billions of dollars.

It could give DOE more flexibility on how it deals with some of the 56 million gallons of waste stored in underground tanks.

The Energy Communities Alliance — which includes Hanford Communities, a coalition of local government near the Hanford Site — supports the proposal.

But critics like Hanford Challenge say it also could mean more toxic waste would be allowed to remain in the ground at Hanford.

Comments may be emailed to HLWnotice@em.doe.gov.

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