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Originally published March 21, 2014 at 8:28 PM | Page modified March 21, 2014 at 9:17 PM

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Hanford Columbia River area work could get biggest cut

The White House’s proposed fiscal 2015 federal budget for cleanup related to the Hanford nuclear reservation includes cuts of about $71 million for work along the Columbia River.

Tri-City Herald

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About $71 million would be cut from the budget to perform environmental-cleanup work along the Columbia River under the administration’s fiscal 2015 Hanford budget request, according to information released Thursday.

The administration’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal for Hanford of just less than $2.15 billion was released about two weeks ago, with more specific information about what work could be done just made public.

The proposed budget holds funding steady for the Hanford vitrification plant and increases it almost $25 million from the current year for the Hanford tank farms, where 56 million gallons of radioactive waste is stored underground.

But it decreases spending for the Richland Operations Office, responsible for all work but the vitrification plant and tank farms, by about $98 million, or 9.7 percent below spending this year.

Work along the Columbia River takes the biggest hit.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has long planned to finish most cleanup along the Columbia River by the end of 2015 and then shift resources to cleaning up central Hanford.

But central Hanford would not benefit from the decrease in spending near the Columbia River. The budget there would go down by about $12 million from the current year.

Near the Columbia River some major cleanup work needs to be finished with the $267 million in the proposed budget, which is down from almost $338 million this year.

In the Office of River Protection proposed budget, an increase of almost $25 million to bring tank-farm spending to $545 million would pay for work related to the integrity of 177 underground tanks. One single-shell tank is known to be leaking waste into the ground and a double-shell tank has a leak that is contained between its shells.

The additional money also would start preliminary design work for a proposed new underground facility that would remove high-level radioactive waste from liquid tank waste, which is mostly low-activity waste, and allow it to be sent to the vitrification plant’s Low Activity Waste Facility for glassification.

The U.S. House will start considering the proposed administration budget for the DOE on Tuesday.

Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Rep. Doc Hastings said earlier this month that they were concerned that the administration’s proposal to Congress for Hanford funding was low.

Murray has succeeded in getting more money for Hanford than proposed by the administration in recent years with support from Hastings in the House.

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