Budget cuts threaten work at leaking nuke tanks

By

Published:

 

OLYMPIA — Federal officials say budget cuts may disrupt efforts to close the radioactive waste tanks currently leaking at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

In a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday, the Department of Energy said it will have to eliminate $92 million in funding for the Office of River Protection at Hanford, which will result in furloughs or layoffs affecting about 2,800 contract workers.

The Energy Department recently found that six tanks at Hanford are leaking radioactive waste, perhaps as much as 1,000 gallons a year. Those tanks have long surpassed their intended lifespan and officials are now searching for a solution to stop the leaking.

Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman wrote in his letter that the layoffs and furloughs may curtail progress related to closing the tanks.