Department fights fine at Washington nuclear facility
Richland, Washington-- The U.S. Department of Energy and two contractors
at the Hanford nuclear site have appealed a record $270,000 fine issued
by the state of Washington last month.
The State Department of Ecology contends the federal government shipped
unknown waste from another nuclear site to the south-central Washington
reservation. The penalty was the largest the state has ever issued to
the Energy Department.
In documents filed with the state Pollution control Hearings Board, the
Energy Department, contractor Fluor Hanford and subcontractor Duratek
Federal Services of Hanford contend the state is holding them to regulations
that do not apply to plutonium tainted waste shipped to Hanford from the
Savannah River nuclear site in South Carolina.
Even if the board does find the regulations apply, the fine is excessive,
the documents said.
"Ecology would have the board believe that the Hanford Facility is
an egregious violator of the state's dangerous waste regulations, but
the facts simply do not support such an unfair proposition," according
to the appeal documents.
The violations center on 83 drums of debris from Savannah River, which
has been conducting treatment studies on waste from Hanford's 177 underground
waste tanks. The waste is the remnants of decades of plutonium production
for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal.
Federal law allows the waste to be shipped to South Carolina for study
and returned to Hanford, exempting it from provisions of state and federal
hazardous-waste reg, clothing and supplies that may have been contaminated
in the testing process.
Waste brought to Hanford also falls under state regulations for hazardous
waste, which mirror federal regulations, state officials said.
The state fined the Energy Department and two contractors for not following
regulations, which include requiring trained workers to observe the packing
of the drums, verify the type of waste and place a tamper-resistant seal
on the drums.
The Energy Department and the contractors say they managed the waste in
a safe manner.