GAO to study Hanford treatment plant

Sep 21, 2011

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Waste Treatment Plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is getting more scrutiny after complaints over its safety culture. The U.S. Government Accountability Office – the investigative arm of Congress – is launching a review.

Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGett of Colorado asked for the study. Both are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Hanford's Waste Treatment Plant is an immense $12 billion factory meant to help stabilize 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge. That waste currently stews in aging underground tanks at Hanford in southeast Washington.

The accountability office plans to focus its research on a few major questions: Is the plant being built on time and on budget? Are key technical challenges being addressed by the Department of Energy? And is it working to design the plant at the same time contractors are building it?

The office is also asking the assistance of another federal watchdog agency -– the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

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