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Energy Department settles with EPA for waste management violations at Hanford

Release Date: 07/01/2013
Contact Information: Mark MacIntyre, EPA/Seattle 206-553-7302/206-369-7999(cell)

(Seattle – July 1, 2013) The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to improve waste handling practices and pay $136,000 in a settlement announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the agreement, DOE allegedly operated several dangerous waste storage units without proper permit authorization and placed waste in a landfill before treating it. Instead, DOE treated the waste after placement, a violation of existing dangerous waste regulations.

“Today’s agreement includes commitments by DOE to address these allegations and ensure that these units are properly managed,” said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. “When handling mixed (nuclear and hazardous) waste, there’s no such thing as being ‘too careful’. Strict compliance with all dangerous waste requirements is the only acceptable path here.”

Inspections were conducted by the EPA National Enforcement Investigations Center in 2011, where inspectors focused on the facility’s Solid Waste Operational Complex. At this facility, radioactive and dangerous wastes are stored and processed prior to shipment to other locations for treatment and disposal.

Under today’s agreement, DOE will:

    Close eight dangerous waste storage units that EPA contends had not received proper authorization under the state dangerous waste permit.
    Submit closure plans for the eight units through a state dangerous waste permit modification request.
    Close, or request an extension to the time allowed to close, an additional two inactive dangerous waste storage units.
    Treat dangerous waste before disposal as required by state & federal regulations.
    Pay a penalty of $136,000, payable to the U.S. Treasury.