Fresh Litigation Over Hanford A 'Definite Possibility' Says Washington AG

Feb 21, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The latest Hanford waste leak will be on the agenda as Washington Governor Jay Inslee meets Friday with US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu. Meanwhile, Washington’s Attorney General says legal action to force a more aggressive clean up schedule at Hanford is possible.

The meeting between Governor Inslee and Secretary Chu follows last week’s announcement of an apparent new leak at Hanford - up to 300 gallons of highly radioactive waste per year from a buried single-shell tank. There is no imminent threat, but Inslee says he wants to have an in-depth conversation with the outgoing Energy Secretary about the pace of Hanford clean-up.

The Governor says more legal action is always an option. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, speaking on TVW’s Inside Olympia program, says fresh litigation is now more likely.

“We have cases pending right now [in] the DC Court of Appeals, Eastern District of Washington where we have the consent decree," Ferguson says. "So there’s ongoing legal issues that are there and I think it’s a definite possibility that this most recent news could change the equation a bit on how we move forward, yes.”

Under a 1989 pact known as the Tri Party agreement, the US Department of Energy must meet specific milestones in the clean-up of 56 million gallons of radioactive waste.