Hanford Will Be Priority For Next Energy Secretary, Sen. Wyden Says

By Anna King

RICHLAND, Wash. – Problems at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will be a key issue in the confirmation hearings for the next Secretary of Energy. That’s what Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said after he toured the southeast Washington site Tuesday.

Wyden chairs the Senate committee that will consider President Obama’s pick to replace Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Oregon Democrat toured Hanford’s tank farms, where millions of gallons of radioactive waste is stored. Two of those tanks have possible leaks. Wyden also saw the massive treatment plant meant to stabilize all that sludge. And the factory is facing serious technical questions and management strife. Wyden says he’ll make sure the new Secretary of Energy commits to cleaning up Hanford’s legacy waste.

Ron Wyden: “When you have a confirmation hearing that is one of the best opportunities to secure policies that are going to make a difference.”

Wyden also says on his tour, guides from the Department of Energy could not answer his questions about what changes are needed to clean up this waste, when those changes will be competed and how much they will cost.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio

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