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Hanford Settlement Agreement Benefits Local Community and Environment

Release Date: 11/20/2007
Contact Information: David Einan, (509) 376-3883, einan.david@epa.gov or Tony Brown, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

Dept. of Energy agrees to pay nearly $855,000 for two Environmental Projects

(Richland, Wash. – Nov. 20, 2007) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have reached an agreement to address violations of the Hanford Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order (commonly referred to as the Tri-Party Agreement or TPA). The violations by DOE and its contractor, Washington Closure Hanford, LLC (WCH), occurred at the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility or ERDF landfill at the Hanford Superfund site, located in eastern Washington.

According to Elin Miller, EPA’s Regional Administrator in Seattle, proper management of ERDF is essential because the landfill is a key component of cleanup at Hanford, which is one of the country’s most complex and difficult Superfund sites.

The violations included failure to perform weekly inspections of the landfill’s leachate collection and removal system. Inspections are necessary to determine if the ERDF’s leachate collection and removal systems are properly functioning. In addition, DOE failed to comply with waste compaction testing requirements as outlined in the Waste Material Management Plan.

“With this enforcement action we sent DOE a message that they and their contractors have taken to heart,” said EPA’s Miller, “they have made changes to ensure that these types of violations don’t occur again at ERDF.”

Under the terms of the agreement, DOE, with its ERDF contractor WCH, will perform two Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) which will directly benefit the Hanford environment, as well as pay a penalty amount of $285,000. “DOE and WCH’s willingness to implement these two important projects sends a very positive signal and will benefit the local community and the environment long after the projects are completed,” said EPA’s Miller.

For one project, DOE and WCH will purchase two emergency response boats for Benton County Sheriff’s Office, costing $253,000. The boats will be used to provide a quick response to any hazardous material spills in the Columbia River.

For the other project, DOE and WCH will construct a greenhouse and nursery facility at the Washington State University (WSU) Tri-Cities campus, to grow native vegetation for habitat rehabilitation. This project would include the initial development, production, and propagation of native plants and seeds, as well as the planting of initial demonstration plots and the development of a re-vegetation manual on developing, planting, and deploying native plants and seeds. The project will cost $602,000 and will be implemented with assistance and cooperation of WSU and with the involvement of the Tribal Nations. This project is particularly timely considering the recent fire on the Hanford Reach National Monument.

The ERDF landfill site serves as the primary repository for contaminated soils, debris and other hazardous and radioactive waste from cleanup operations across the site. ERDF is designed to meet stringent requirements for hazardous and radioactive waste landfills.

Leachate is the liquid produced when water percolates through any permeable material. It can contain either dissolved or suspended material, or usually both.

For more information about EPA’s Hanford Superfund site, visit:
http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/webpage/hanford,+Washington?OpenDocument