Hanford workers begin moving radioactive waste away from Columbia River
The Trump administration is proposing cutting Hanford nuclear reservation spending for fiscal 2020 by $416 million.
The nuclear reservation’s annual budget would drop from about $2.5 billion this fiscal year to $2.1 billion next year under the budget request submitted to Congress by the administration.
The biggest hit would be to the Richland Operations Office.
Its budget would drop by almost 25 percent. Current spending of about $954 million would drop by about $236 million to $718 million under the administration’s proposal.
The budget for the Office of River Protection would drop by almost 12 percent, or about $181 million. Spending would be reduced from almost $1.6 billion to about $1.4 billion.
Money proposed for the Office of River Protection included $715 million for the vitrification plant and $677 million for the tank farms.
A further breakdown of how the money is proposed to be spent on individual projects had not been released on Monday.
The Office of River Protection is responsible for 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks and the $17 billion vitrification plant being built to treat much of the tank waste for disposal.
The Richland Operations Office is responsible for general operations of the site, including roads and utilities, and all other environmental cleanup, including polluted groundwater, unneeded buildings, old dump sites and contaminated soil.
Congress sets Hanford budget
The 580-square-mile site is contaminated from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
The administration proposes a spending amount for Hanford annually to Congress, which then sets the spending amount for the next fiscal year.
“Unfortunately, presidents on both sides of the aisle have proposed funding cuts that would slow down Hanford cleanup,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. “And just as I have worked before with my colleagues through the appropriations process to restore funding, I will do so again.”
The federal government created the waste at Hanford and has a moral and legal obligation to finish cleaning up the site, he said.
In 2018 Washington’s congressional delegation was able to increase the administration’s spending proposal for the current fiscal year by about $342 million more than proposed by the Trump administration.
The proposed spending cut comes as a new estimate of remaining cleanup at Hanford at least triples the estimated cost released three years ago.
The Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost Report released at the end of January puts the remaining cleanup costs for Hanford at $323 billion under a best case scenario. At worst it could be $677 billion.
The estimate before the current one put the remaining costs as of 2016 at $108 billion.