Oregon Department of Energy to Hold Public Meeting on Hanford High-Level Waste Reclassification Proposal on October 16

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Jennifer Kalez, 503-480-9239
Rachel Wray, 503-689-0294

SALEM – The Oregon Department of Energy will hold a public meeting on October 16 in Portland to discuss the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposal to reclassify high-level radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington. The public meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Eliot Center at the First Unitarian Church in Portland (1226 SW Salmon St.).

For more than 40 years, the federal government produced plutonium for America’s nuclear weapons program at the Hanford Nuclear Site in southeast Washington. The plutonium production created large amounts of radioactive and chemically hazardous waste. Since plutonium production ended in 1989, the focus at Hanford has shifted to cleanup.

As part of its ongoing cleanup efforts, USDOE has retrieved most of the waste from 16 underground single-shell storage tanks in the central plateau area of the Hanford Site. USDOE is now accepting public comments on its proposal to reclassify the remaining waste in the tanks as low-level radioactive waste, and to fill the tanks and ancillary structures with grout to stabilize and immobilize the waste. The tanks would then be covered by a surface barrier and remain at Hanford.

Hanford sits on the Columbia River, just 35 miles from Oregon’s border. From Hanford, the Columbia flows through prime Oregon farmlands and fisheries. “This is a precedent-setting decision that the U.S. Department of Energy is proposing,” said Ken Niles, ODOE’s Assistant Director for Nuclear Safety. “It’s important for Oregonians to understand what this federal decision may mean for the Columbia River and for Oregon. I hope they’ll join us for this meeting.”

ODOE submitted formal comments to USDOE regarding its proposal to reclassify the waste, and will have copies available at the October 16 public meeting. Attendees will hear from Oregon, Washington, and federal experts about USDOE’s proposal, and will have an opportunity to ask questions and make informal comments. Oregonians can also submit formal comments to USDOE through November 7, 2018.

ODOE’s evening meeting will follow an information meeting hosted by USDOE from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., also at the Eliot Center.

Details about ODOE’s event are available on our blog; more information about Oregon’s role in the Hanford cleanup is also available online.