Oregon joining lawsuit to speed Hanford cleanup - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Oregon joining lawsuit to speed Hanford cleanup

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon is joining the state of Washington in a lawsuit pressing the federal government to speed the cleanup of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski said in a statement Wednesday that further delay is unacceptable.

Attorney General John Kroger added that the pollution threatens the Columbia River.

Located in southwestern Washington, Hanford produced the plutonium used in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, effectively ending World War II.

A treatment plant to clean up millions of gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks was supposed to be operating 10 years ago. The latest timetable calls for a deadline of 2015 to stabilize the stored waste, and 2020 to deal with groundwater and soils.

Gov. Gregoire's and Attorney Gen. McKenna's statement on Oregon support of Hanford lawsuit

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna issued the following statement today on the decision by Oregon to join Washington in litigation to compel the U.S. Department of Energy to complete the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear reservation:

"We're pleased that Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has joined us in this important lawsuit. The federal cleanup at Hanford has been far too slow in achieving the critical environmental results mandated in the three-party cleanup agreement, which the federal government committed to.  Washington and Oregon depend on clean, safe water to support their economies and the health and well being of their citizens. In the Washington and Oregon counties south of Hanford, 57,000 companies rely on water to provide 780,000 jobs.

"Washington state negotiated in good faith for an acceptable change in the cleanup schedule. The negotiations failed to produce an agreement with legal safeguards to make sure the federal government finishes the job of emptying the hazardous and radioactive waste from the tanks and appropriately treating it. We had no reasonable alternative but to file our lawsuit in November to seek relief from the U.S. District Court. We welcome Oregon's support in this necessary litigation."

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