Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the state will not extend today’s deadline for resolving the dispute with the U.S Department of Energy over cleanup of the Hanford nuclear reservation. The state has extended the deadline twice already since negotiations began in March.
With the conclusion of the dispute resolution period, the state has 30 days in which it may file a motion in the U.S. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, unless an agreement is reached with the Department of Energy on key terms for Hanford cleanup.
Washington state has been in dispute resolution with the U.S. Department of Energy as required under the terms of a 2010 consent decree that governs clean up at the federal Hanford site.
That decree requires Energy to finish constructing and begin operating a plant to treat Hanford’s tank wastes, as well as retrieve waste contained in single-shell tanks.
Since 2011, Energy has repeatedly informed the state that it would not meet certain deadlines contained in the consent decree.
This spring, both parties submitted and rejected proposals to amend the consent decree, which triggered negotiations.
The dispute resolution period that ends today involved several meetings between the two parties in an effort to reach agreement.
While progress has been made, no agreement has been reached.
The state has informed Energy that it will not extend the formal dispute resolution period again. This means that the state now has 30 days from today (Oct. 5, 2014) to decide whether to file a motion in the U.S. Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.
In the meantime, state officials have told Energy they will continue to work with the department in an effort to reach an agreement on a comprehensive plan to clean up tank waste at Hanford.
This plan needs a firm commitment from Energy to meet a schedule that is accountable to the people of Washington.