Washington State's Top Watchdog On Hanford Retires After Decade Of Service

Feb 22, 2016

For a decade, one woman has been the top watchdog on the Hanford nuclear reservation for Washington state. Jane Hedges retires February 26.

Hedges said her top career moment was getting hexavalent chromium mostly out of the Columbia River. That’s the same nasty chemical made infamous by Erin Brockovich.

But, still on the to-do list is getting millions of gallons of radioactive sludge pumped out of aging underground tanks. She wants it bound up in glass logs at a massive treatment plant still under construction.

“The thing that’s hardest for me is seeing that it’s going to take two more decades, three more decades, maybe longer,” Hedges said.

She said over her decade bird-dogging Hanford, she’s seen that plant’s startup slip, by years, a couple of times.

Hedges has worked at the Washington state Department of Ecology on Hanford for about 16 years, 10 as the director of the Richland office. Hedges said she has no immediate plans to do consultant work at Hanford.

She plans to take up some volunteer work and also travel to see her adult children with her husband, who recently retired as head winemaker at one of the Northwest’s largest wineries.