Energy Department Settles with EPA for Violations at Hanford - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Energy Department Reaches Settlement with EPA for Violations at Hanford

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RICHLAND, Wash. - The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency for waste management violations at Hanford. 

The DOE has agreed to improve waste handling practices and pay $136,000. According to the agreement, the DOE allegedly operated several dangerous waste storage units without proper permit authorization, and placed waste in a landfill before treating it.

The EPA says the 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."

THE EPA National Enforcement Investigation Center inspected the facility in 2011, where inspectors focused on the Solid Waste Operational Complex, where radioactive and dangerous wastes are stored and processed before they're shipped to other locations for treatment and disposal.

Under the agreement, the DOE will close eight dangerous waste storage units that EPA contends had not received proper authorization under the state dangerous waste permit. The department will also submit closure plans for the eight units through a state dangerous waste permit modification request and close, (or request an extension to the time allowed to close) an additional two inactive dangerous waste storage units. The DOE will also now treat dangerous waste before disposal as required by state & federal regulations, and pay a penalty of $136,000 to the U.S. Treasury.