Special committee assembled by Obama tours Hanford - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Special committee assembled by Obama tours Hanford

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RICHLAND, Wash. -- The Department of Energy and Energy Northwest Leaders toured Hanford's 200-area Wednesday, along with a special committee assembled by President Barack Obama.

The special committee is called the Blue Ribbon Commission. They are 15 experts reviewing the daily work of our nation's nuclear sites.

Wednesday, Hanford leaders gave them an inside look at their job with the hope of having a national repository site to one day, to dispose of all the waste.

Commissioners got an in-depth study session and saw, first hand, what type of work goes on at the Hanford site. They came ready to ask any and everything to better decide what is next for nuclear clean-up. The uncertainty of Yucca Mountain was also addressed.

Vic Parrish, the CEO of Energy Northwest said, "Our position is pretty clear--we think Yucca Mountain should move ahead. It should be licensed in anticipation of used nuclear fuel. I think that's pretty clear where we're at and I think that was a very strong message the commissioners heard today."

David Brockman, from the Department of Energy added, "We're really just trying to show them what the impact of that decision is on this community and how much waste we have waiting for a final site."

Safety concerns, among others, are hampering Yucca Mountain. Right now, no decision has been made on where the used nuclear fuel might go someday. The commissioners will not report to the Energy Secretary for a year.

Leaders say Wednesday's tour was a step forward. "For them to actually go out and see it and a get a sense for it, I think it just has a bigger importance," said Brockman.

Governor Chris Gregoire will be in the Tri-Cities Thursday speaking with the commissioners. The public is welcomed to attend and voice opinions. You can register at the Three Rivers Convention Center as early as 8:00 AM. The event lasts until 1:00 PM.