Hastings’ Provisions Protect Hanford, Promote Tri-Cities Vision for the Future
Rattlesnake Access, B Reactor Park, Hanford Land Transfer, Cleanup Funds and Hanford Protections Included in House-Passed Defense Bill
Several Tri-Cities’ priorities are encompassed in provisions authored by Congressman Doc Hastings and included in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2015 that passed the House of Representatives today. “This is about taking the steps necessary to move Hanford cleanup forward and implement our community’s vision for the future as more work at the site is completed,” said Hastings.
A Hastings amendment authorizing $20 million above the Administration’s proposed funding level for the Environmental Management program was approved unanimously. The starting point for Fiscal Year 2015 cleanup funding was set in the Administration’s budget request, which cut over $100 million from Hanford. The Hastings amendment is aimed at ensuring that the Richland Operations Office can meet cleanup commitments including completion of the River Corridor Closure project.
Watch Hastings debate the EM funding amendment on the House floor:
A second provision, added by Hastings, prevents further studies on bringing plutonium to the State of Washington at a time when the federal government is not meeting its existing legal cleanup commitments here. The Administration has proposed halting MOX – a facility that is under construction in South Carolina to treat plutonium, including the plutonium shipped from Hanford in 2009. The Department of Energy released a report in April outlining alternatives to MOX – including an option involving additional missions for the already challenging Waste Treatment Plant and another involving restarting Fast Flux Test Facility despite previous actions by the Department to drill the core of the reactor.
“Completing MOX is in the best interest of Hanford cleanup, but at a minimum zero time or money should be wasted studying options that would be harmful to cleanup progress here,” said Hastings. “DOE just finished shipping plutonium from Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) to South Carolina 5 years ago – studies that involve shipping it (and more) back here make no sense and would only divert focus from real cleanup work. As with Yucca Mountain, this is another example of this Administration creating a problem when a solution already exists. Whether it’s an irresponsible budget request for Richland or a continued failure to provide details about a path forward for the Waste Treatment Plant, the Department has plenty of real challenges without producing reports on unworkable alternatives to MOX.”
Hastings’ amendment to ensure public access to Rattlesnake Mountain was also included in the House-passed defense bill. The amendment mirrors legislation passed by the House unanimously in 2011 and 2013.
The defense bill also includes Hastings’ provisions to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park and to execute a small transfer of Hanford land no longer needed for cleanup back the community for economic development by December 31, 2014. These priorities were included in the House National Defense Authorization Act last year before being removed during final negotiations with the Senate.
“As cleanup is completed, opportunities to diversify our economy through land transfers and to draw visitors to our area out at B Reactor and through access to Rattlesnake Mountain and other parts of the Hanford Reach National Monument are critical to carrying out our community’s plans for the future,” said Hastings. “I’m hopeful the Senate will join us in these plans and allow these priorities to become law.”