No decisions were made about possible ways to speed up certain cleanup operations at the Hanford Site during a meeting Thursday between top officials from the Energy Department’s Office of Environmental Management and the Washington state Department of Ecology.
Acting Assistant Energy Secretary for Environmental Management (EM) James Owendoff met with Ecology Department Director Maia Bellon in Olympia, Wash. The central topic was speeding expediting construction of the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP), which will convert up to 56 million gallons of waste at Hanford into a glass form for disposal. “We listened and chatted with them,” said Ecology spokesman Randy Bradbury.
Bradbury expects that an additional meeting will be held in the next couple of months although no date has been set yet.
The visit follows a Sept. 20 letter from Owendoff to Bellon in which he cited several potential measures to advance environmental remediation at the former plutonium production site, including accelerating conversion of liquid waste into glass for storage via the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach at the Waste Treatment Plant.
Owendoff has stressed the importance of WTP, being built by Bechtel National, since becoming acting EM-1 earlier this year. But the plant has a history of schedule delays and cost overruns. The project has been estimated to cost north of $16 billion.
The state agency issues permits for DOE waste facilities in Washington. The Energy Department would need a state permit in order to accomplish some of the items Owendoff has proposed.