Cantwell Optimistic That New Nuclear Waste Strategy Can Speed Up Hanford Clean-Up

March 24, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, commended the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement to pursue separate disposal pathways for defense and civilian nuclear waste.

DOE’s new strategy may provide an opportunity to deal more quickly with some of the waste at Hanford. Defense waste currently represents approximately 15 percent of the nation’s nuclear waste burden — and about half of that is stored at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the state of Washington.

According to recent scientific reviews, some defense wastes are cooler and less radioactive than commercial spent fuel, which could make for faster progress on disposal solutions. By pursuing a separate strategy for some defense waste, the process can begin moving forward despite gridlock on disposal solutions for waste from all of the nation’s civilian nuclear reactors.

“Secretary Moniz’s statement marks an important step forward for communities affected by defense waste, including many in Washington state,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Figuring out how to make meaningful progress on defense waste is an important piece of our nation’s nuclear strategy and an obligation to our citizens. I look forward to working with state officials and the Department of Energy to find a sound, scientifically-driven path forward.”