$12 billion Hanford waste treatment plant may be over budget

Aug 30, 2011

RICHLAND, Wash. – A new Department of Energy document leaked to the press reveals that Hanford's massive waste treatment plant might be over budget. A project review committee says the plant is in jeopardy of opening on time.

The waste plant meant to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste is at risk, the report says. That toxic sludge is now sitting in aging underground tanks in southeast Washington not far from the Columbia River.

The committee questions that the plant can stay on budget, open on time or perform its mission completely if things don't change quickly. The plant could run over its $12.2 billion budget by as much as $900 million more.

And the report says, "... some significant technical issues have not been captured in the risk program."

The report also expresses concern that current economic climate means adequate federal funding for the project might be at risk.

The U.S. Department of Energy responded: "The Department remains committed to delivering a safe, efficient plant, which is why we continue to request these types of in-depth reviews."

"As the Construction Project Review team noted, our project management team has made significant progress on the project and in resolving issues. However, the Waste Treatment Plant Project is a challenging and complex endeavor, and these types of reviews provide regular, independent feedback that enables the Department to continuously improve its management of this important project. We look forward to receiving and reviewing the full report and, as with previous Construction Project Reviews, implementing actions to address the team's recommendations."

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