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EPA Signs $200 Million Remedy for 100 D and H Area at the Hanford Reservation Superfund Site

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Mark MacIntyre (

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, together with the Department of Energy and with concurrence from the Washington State Department of Ecology, has issued the Record-of-Decision, or Cleanup Plan, for the Hanford 100 Area D and H areas, which occupy approximately 7.8 square miles of the 586-square mile Hanford Reservation in south central Washington.

The $200 million remedy includes removal, treatment, and disposal of contaminated soil and debris; upgrading the existing groundwater treatment system; monitored natural attenuation; and institutional controls (ICs) to prevent contamination exposure until cleanup levels are met. Under the ROD, groundwater will be cleaned up to drinking water standards and waste sites cleaned up to “suitable for residential use” levels.

“This Record of Decision ensures the final remaining waste sites in the 100 D and H area will be addressed thoroughly and quickly,” said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s action reflects EPA’s commitment to accelerating sites through the entire remediation process and returning them to productive reuse for the benefit of the health and livelihood of surrounding communities.”

“This land and groundwater cleanup is an important ‘puzzle piece’ in the larger Hanford Project,” said EPA Regional Administrator Chris Hladick. “Since these areas are virtually on the banks of the Columbia River, this work to further reduce toxic and radiological threats to the River is particularly important.”

“The federal government, Washington State, Native American Tribes, and Hanford stakeholders made protecting the Columbia River a priority when cleanup began. That resolve led us to celebrating this success today as we prepare to finish this component of our work along the river corridor,” Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management Anne White said. “The Department of Energy’s Environmental Management program has a completion mindset and is focused on achieving end states, and the substantial progress made at the 100 D and H areas is a shining example of that.”

“The Department of Ecology, which served as the lead agency for this Record of Decision, is happy to see this important cleanup decision finalized,” says Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program Manager Alex Smith.  “We appreciate all the input from our partners and stakeholders into this decision, which provides for expanding the existing groundwater pump and treat system to remove harmful contaminants and protect the Columbia River.”   

Adjacent to the Columbia River, the larger 100 Area was home to nine water-cooled plutonium reactors, constructed between 1943-1963. These 100 Area reactors (while operating) disposed of cooling water and solid wastes in over 400 waste sites, trenches, cribs (underground drain fields), ponds, and burial grounds. Also, leaks in the reactors’ wastewater piping and retention systems led to soil and groundwater contamination.

Large-scale cleanup work of the 100 Area D and H units has already occurred under several earlier, interim RODs (since 1996) and represent an investment of $374 million. Of the 104 waste sites listed in the current final ROD, 99 have been remediated and are awaiting final confirmation that the completed work meets cleanup targets. Excavation of five waste sites, monitored natural attenuation and the expansion of the groundwater pump and treat system remain to complete the project.

Because most of the remediation work in the area has already occurred, the remaining waste sites covered by this ROD should be cleaned-up in the next two years, while 12 years of pumping and treating groundwater is expected to meet hexavalent chromium cleanup levels. Monitored natural attenuation for strontium-90 and nitrate is expected to meet drinking water standards in 44 years.

For more information about the Hanford Cleanup:

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Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 EPA established a task force to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment.