The White House budget request for fiscal 2019, released Monday, would cut spending at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site by $230 million. The total budget would be $2.185 billion for the budget year beginning Oct. 1.
The Office of River Protection (ORP) would receive $1.438 billion, which is $61 million below current spending for the Hanford office charged with management of 56 million gallons of chemical and radioactive waste stored in underground tanks. The proposed ORP budget would include $705 million for the Waste Treatment Plant, $678 million for the tank farms, and $56 million for the Low-Activity Waste Pretreatment System, which is needed to start vitrifying low-activity radioactive waste as soon as 2022.
The DOE Richland Operations Office would receive $747 million under the administration’s budget request, which is $169 million below current spending levels. The Energy Department did not release a project-by-project breakout for the Richland Operations Office, which is responsible for Hanford Site operations and all cleanup other than work related to the tank farms.
The proposed cuts would “make this budget proposal downright dangerous for everyone who lives near the Columbia River,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called the budget numbers “extremely disappointing, especially in the wake of recent events highlighting the hazards that must still be addressed and the risks this cleanup poses to workers, the public and the environment.” In May, one radioactive waste storage tunnel for the PUREX Plant was discovered partially collapsed, and radioactive particles have spread during open air demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant.