background_fid.jpg
Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Science and Technology
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.

Federal Report Blasts Hanford's Waste Treatment Plant Project

011813AK_Hanford_GAO.jpg
Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – A federal watchdog agency says work should stop on parts of Hanford’s troubled Waste Treatment Plant. That’s the complex factory in southeast Washington being built to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. A new report out Friday says the project will cost even more and take even longer.

The new report by the federal Government Accountability Office says the U.S. has paid contractors millions of dollars for work they didn’t do right. And the agency recommends trying to recoup those tax dollars.

The GAO called the U.S. Department of Energy’s management of the Hanford project “weak.”

“By just about any definition, [the] … project at Hanford has not been a well planned, well-managed, or well-executed major capital construction project.”

The report goes on to say that additional cost increases -- beyond the current $12 billion price tag -- and schedule delays of years are, “almost certain to occur.” The report adds some of these problems were identified years ago.

The Department of Energy points out that Energy Secretary Steven Chu and a hand-selected team of experts have been working to resolve technical and management issues with the project.

On the Web:

Hanford Waste Treatment Plant report (Government Accountability Office)

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio