Two recent incidents have raised concerned about worker safety at the former nuclear-weapons production site, where crews are engaged in a massive cleanup that costs more than $2 billion per year.
SPOKANE — President Donald Trump’s proposed budget includes a cut of about $120 million for the Hanford nuclear reservation, despite two recent incidents that raised concern about worker safety at the former nuclear-weapons production site.
Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and it now is engaged in a massive environmental cleanup that costs more than $2 billion per year.
“The Tri-Cities community sacrificed a lot to help our country win World War II and the Cold War,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, a member of the appropriations committee, said Tuesday. “The president’s proposed budget for Hanford, despite urging from both sides of the aisle, is a real disappointment.”
The 2018 budget proposal still must go through Congress.
The budget calls for spending $6.5 billion across the nation to clean up the legacy of nuclear-weapons production. That is the agency’s largest budget request in a decade for environmental cleanup, the agency said.
At Hanford, the president’s budget calls for a cut of more than $120 million for the agency’s Richland Operations Office, which deals with many nuclear-waste sites and facilities on the sprawling site. It leaves spending nearly flat for the Office of River Protection, which deals specifically with the contents of 177 underground nuclear-waste storage tanks that contain some of the most toxic wastes.
In the past two weeks, Hanford, near Richland, saw the partial collapse of a tunnel that contains nuclear waste and a possible new leak from one of the huge, double-walled storage tanks built in the 1970s. Last week, a robotic crawler inserted into the space between the two walls of Tank AZ-101 came out of the tank with unexpected radioactive contamination. Hanford officials are trying to determine the cause.
The tunnel collapsed May 9.