Cantwell Urges Faster Hanford Waste Removal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to look at options for the interim and long-term storage of nuclear waste, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the committee, talked about the importance of working with stakeholders to find ways to make progress and move high-level defense waste out of Hanford.

“It’s complex, it’s hard, we’re making progress, but we need to get the high-level waste out,” Cantwell said. “Count me in the camp of the belief that consensus-based approaches are more likely to generate quicker results than the legal and long process that we have seen continue to play out.” 

Cantwell also highlighted the important role Hanford plays in nuclear waste stewardship for the entire country. 

“Well this is, believe me, a day-to-day task for us in the state of Washington, but we’re only doing it on behalf of the entire United States, and part of stewardship,” Cantwell said. “This should be every member of this committee’s responsibility. This is a responsibility of the United States of America, not just the state of Washington or the environmental director.” 

In her remarks, Cantwell asked about a proposal from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to move forward separately on handling commercial and defense waste. 

“One of the things that I liked about the commission recommendations was that they thought that separating commercial and defense waste, and dealing with that separately, might be one of those near-term opportunities to make more progress,” Cantwell said. 

Hanford is home to approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous waste. Cleaning up this waste is the second-highest federal obligation behind Medicare and Medicaid.