Hanford clean up to take longer, cost more

December 1, 2005

A secret government study says soaring costs are among the latest problems plaguing clean up of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, north of Richland, Wash.

The Seattle Times said the report was leaked to it after months of unsuccessful efforts to get the U.S. Energy Department to release it under the open-records laws.

The study, completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May, focused on construction of a plan to seal radioactive waste in glass, considered a key step in the clean up effort, the Times reported. The report estimates costs could soar to $9.65 billion, making it among the most costly construction projects in the nation. And, the report said, it may not be completed until 2015.

The U.S. Department of Energy, which runs Hanford, had refused to release the report to state officials, a citizen oversight panel, the news media or even some members of Congress.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is a 586-square-mile site where plutonium production for nuclear weapons left tons of radioactive and toxic waste. It is considered one of the world's most polluted sites.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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