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00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d430000The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington was home to Native Americans and later to settlers. It turned into an top-secret military workhorse during World War II and the Cold War. Now, it’s one of the most pressing and complex environmental cleanup challenges humanity is facing in the world.This remote area in southeast Washington is where the federal government made plutonium for bombs during WWII and the Cold War. It’s now home to some of the most toxic contamination on earth, a witch’s brew of chemicals, radioactive waste and defunct structures. In central Hanford, leaking underground tanks full of radioactive sludge await a permanent solution. Meanwhile, a massive $12 billion waste treatment plant, designed to bind up that tank waste into more stable glass logs, has a troubled history.00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d440000Anna King is public radio's correspondent in Richland, Washington, covering the seemingly endless complexities of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Inslee To Energy Department: Let's Make Up, Make Progress On Hanford Cleanup

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Anna King
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Northwest News Network
File photo. A federal court ordered the U.S. Department of Energy Friday to step up its solutions and timeline to clean up tank waste at the Hanford nuclear site.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants a federal court order to bring more cooperation from the U.S. Department of Energy for cleanup of the Hanford nuclear site.

The court order is in response to a federal lawsuit filed by the state of Washington under the Inslee administration in 2014. The judge sided with the state Friday, saying the federal government has not been up-front about the cleanup of 177 underground tanks full of radioactive sludge. And that technical problems are plaguing a waste treatment plant still under construction that would bind-up that waste in glass logs.

Inslee said, “Look, these are really tough technical challenges. And the more people we have approach this from an attitude of partnership, rather than hiding the ball, the better off we’ll be.”

This is the second time Washington state has sued the federal government over these issues in the past decade. If the DOE disagrees with this ruling they can take it to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A statement issued Saturday by the the Energy department said, “DOE is reviewing the Court's Order and Consent Decree amendment. DOE remains committed to the successful treatment of tank waste at Hanford as soon as practicable."

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.