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$200 Million More Approved for Hanford Cleanup

EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy, with concurrence from the Washington State Department of Ecology, have issued a cleanup plan for the Hanford 100 Area D and H areas, which occupy approximately 7.8 square miles of the 586-square-mile Hanford Reservation in Washington state. The $200 million remedy includes removal, treatment, and disposal of contaminated soil and debris; upgrading an existing groundwater treatment system; monitored natural attenuation; and institutional controls to prevent contamination exposure until cleanup levels are met.

EPA reported that under the plan, groundwater will be cleaned up to drinking water standards and waste sites cleaned up to "suitable for residential use" levels. "This Record of Decision ensures the final remaining waste sites in the 100 D and H area will be addressed thoroughly and quickly," said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "Today's action reflects EPA's commitment to accelerating sites through the entire remediation process and returning them to productive reuse for the benefit of the health and livelihood of surrounding communities."

"This land and groundwater cleanup is an important puzzle piece in the larger Hanford Project," said EPA Regional Administrator Chris Hladick. "Since these areas are virtually on the banks of the Columbia River, this work to further reduce toxic and radiological threats to the river is particularly important."

"The federal government, Washington state, Native American tribes, and Hanford stakeholders made protecting the Columbia River a priority when cleanup began. That resolve led us to celebrating this success today as we prepare to finish this component of our work along the river corridor," Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management Anne White said. "The Department of Energy's environmental management program has a completion mindset and is focused on achieving end states, and the substantial progress made at the 100 D and H areas is a shining example of that."

The 100 Area was home to nine water-cooled plutonium reactors that were built between 1943 and 1963. Those reactors disposed of cooling water and solid wastes in more than 400 waste sites, trenches, underground drain fields, ponds, and burial grounds, and leaks in the reactors' wastewater piping and retention systems led to soil and groundwater contamination, according to EPA. Large-scale cleanup work of the 100 Area D and H units already has occurred under several earlier, interim Records of Decision since 1996 that represent an investment of $374 million. Of the 104 waste sites listed in the current final ROD, 99 have been remediated and are awaiting final confirmation that the completed work meets cleanup targets. Excavation of five waste sites, monitored natural attenuation, and the expansion of the groundwater pump and treat system remain to complete the project.

"Because most of the remediation work in the area has already occurred, the remaining waste sites covered by this ROD should be cleaned-up in the next two years, while 12 years of pumping and treating groundwater is expected to meet hexavalent chromium cleanup levels. Monitored natural attenuation for strontium-90 and nitrate is expected to meet drinking water standards in 44 years," EPA reported.

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