Weapons Complex Monitor Vol. 33 No. 10
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Weapons Complex Monitor
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March 11, 2022

Hanford funding increases for key construction in fiscal 2022 budget deal

By Wayne Barber

The final fiscal 2022 compromise budget reached by Congress this week continues the era of flush funding for the Department of Energy’s nuclear cleanup branch, which rises to nearly $7.9 billion for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, up from $7.6 billion.

Under the spending plan, which on Friday had cleared Congress and awaited President Joe Biden’s signature, the DOE Office of Environmental Management will see its Defense Environmental Cleanup appropriation rise to $6.7 billion, or $284 million more than the fiscal 2021 budget.

Non-defense environmental cleanup is $334 million under the deal, up more than $14.5 million from the prior year but a little lower than the request, under the compromise package.

The agreement provides a total of $860 million for the overall Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning fund, $19 million more than the fiscal 2021 level of $841 million and $28 million more than requested.

Since fiscal year 2022 began Oct. 1, 2021, DOE and other agencies have stayed open via a series of continuing budget resolutions that kept appropriations largely at fiscal 2021 levels, with a few exceptions. 

Among those exceptions, the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund (UED&D) was allowed since Oct. 1 to exceed 2021 spending to keep critical work on schedule at shuttered Cold War enrichment sites.

Under the fund, Portsmouth would receive $467 million in fiscal 2022, about $37 million more than the 2021 level and about equal to the administration’s request. Paducah is slated to receive $240 million, equal to the prior year and $41 million more than requested. Oak Ridge is penciled in for $105 million from the fund, $30 million less than 2021 and about equal to the request. 

Meanwhile, at the site level, the Hanford Site in Washington state would get nearly $2.6 billion for fiscal year 2022, up about $24 million in total, year-over-year. The Richland Operations office would receive $950 million and the Office of River Protection almost $1.65 billion. Congress declined to accept the White House’s request to cut River Protection by $104 million for fiscal year 2022.

Funding for construction of Hanford’s High-Level Waste Facility at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant would jump to $144 million from $25 million in fiscal 2021, more than doubling the 2022 request. The omnibus budget also includes $20 million in spending for the treatment plant’s Pre-Treatment Facility, up from zero in fiscal 2021. The money for design and engineering of the Pre-Treatment Facility is supposed to ensure compliance with the 2016 Consent Decree and Tri-Party Agreement milestones that govern Hanford cleanup, according to an explanatory statement published by congressional appropriators along with their omnibus spending bill.

At the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, DOE’s other major liquid-waste, Cold War plutonium cleanup, the omnibus would increase the Environmental Management appropriation to nearly $1.6 billion, up more than $60 million year-over-year.

The Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee would receive $486 million in cleanup funds during fiscal 2022, up $11 million from fiscal 2021. The bill also has the requested $12.5 million for an On-site Waste Disposal Facility. 

The appropriation for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico would rise $30 million year-over-year under the omnibus to $443 million. That’s $13 million more than requested. Increased spending for construction of the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System drove most of that increase. The new ventilation system, which has not proceeded as quickly as DOE once envisioned, will let personnel at the transuranic waste site mine out new disposal space even as their colleagues emplace newly arrived waste in the facility’s deep-underground storage areas.

Idaho National Laboratory’s cleanup appropriation under the omnibus would grow by $9 million to $443 million in fiscal 2022. That’s over $70 million more than requested.

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