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Energy Secretary Bodman Statement on Hanford Solid Waste Settlement Agreement

January 9, 2006 - 9:43am

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Richland, WA - U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) and the State of Washington have entered into a settlement agreement that will lead to a final order and the dismissal of the challenge to Hanford's Solid Waste Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in the lawsuit Washington v. Bodman. DOE, with Washington State as a cooperating agency, will prepare a new EIS that will include updated, site-wide groundwater analysis.

"With this agreement, both parties will be able to shift their focus and resources away from litigation and toward partnership and our shared cleanup goals," said Secretary Samuel Bodman. "The settlement of this lawsuit signals a new day in our cleanup efforts, where both the Federal government and the State jointly address Hanford's cleanup challenges and seek common ground and quality solutions."

Historical Overview

In 2003, the State of Washington initiated litigation on issues related to the importation, treatment and disposal of radioactive and hazardous waste generated off-site as a result of nuclear defense and research activities.

In 2004, DOE issued the Hanford Solid Waste EIS, which evaluated potential environmental impacts of the storage, treatment and disposal of low-level, mixed-low level and transuranic waste at the Hanford Site. The State of Washington amended its lawsuit to challenge the adequacy of this EIS.

In July 2005, as part of the discovery process related to the 2003 lawsuit, DOE was informed by its support contractor, Battelle Memorial Institute, of discrepancies in the EIS data related to the impacts of waste disposal on Hanford's groundwater. DOE immediately notified the Federal Court, the State of Washington, and Congress of the discrepancies in the data, and initiated a review to identify additional quality assurance issues. DOE's review is complete and a report publicly available. The settlement agreement, negotiated with the assistance of the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division, outlines DOE's plans for resolving the data quality issues identified.

The Settlement Agreement

Under the agreement announced today, DOE and the State of Washington agree that:As a first step in implementing the Settlement Agreement, DOE, in consultation with the State, will hold public meetings and seek public input to finalize the scope of the new, comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.

  • DOE will prepare a new, expanded, comprehensive EIS that will combine the scope of the 2004 Solid Waste EIS and the ongoing Tank Closure EIS;
  • The State of Washington will have a significant role in establishing key analytic parameters for the new EIS, resolving issues, participating in reviews, and giving overall input as a cooperating agency;
  • DOE will not import waste from other sites pending the completion of the new, comprehensive EIS, except in certain limited instances to which the State has previously agreed. The exceptions are listed in the Settlement Agreement;
  • The current Solid Waste EIS will remain in place to ensure that ongoing cleanup operations continue. When completed, the new EIS will replace the existing Solid Waste EIS.

Both the Settlement Agreement and the results of the EIS Quality Assurance Review are available at http://www.em.doe.gov/.

Media contact(s):

Mike Waldron, 202/586-4940

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