In a confirmation hearing, Sen. Maria Cantwell pushed Rick Perry to commit to cleaning up the Hanford nuclear reservation.
During questioning from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in a confirmation hearing Thursday, Energy Secretary-nominee Rick Perry said he would make cleaning up the Hanford nuclear reservation a priority.
“I am committed to working with you in prioritizing what is one of the most dangerous, polluted sites we have in the country,” Perry told Cantwell, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources committee. “The country’s commitment to do this has been a failure, from my perspective.”
Earlier this month, Washington’s congressional delegation asked President-elect Donald Trump to support Hanford’s cleanup. The nuclear site contains millions of gallons of nuclear waste from weapons production.
Perry said he planned to visit Hanford with Cantwell and discuss with labor unions any concerns about the site’s safety.
“Maybe one of our most important duties is making sure the men and women working on a very dangerous site have the appropriate protection they deserve,” he said.
Perry promised to work with the state of Washington on the comprehensive cleanup plan for the site.
“One of my strong suits will be to reach out to governors and members of the Legislature that have these challenges,” he said.
Earlier in the hearing, Perry faced sharp comments from Cantwell about Perry’s past statement about abolishing the department he is now in line to lead, as well as questions on climate change and support of the fossil-fuel industry.
Perry said he regretted recommending the Energy Department’s elimination and acknowledged that climate change is real.