WASHINGTON - A state Senate bill proposing to transfer authority for low-level radioactive waste management was voted out of the Senate Energy Environment and Telecommunications Committee yesterday.
Reporter Rex Carlin learned that Senate Bill 5319 proposes transferring authority for low-level radioactive waste management from the Department of Ecology over to the Department of Health.
A representative from the Department of Ecology Department has been involved because Ecology oversees the compact of member states that use the low-level radioactive waste site U.S. Ecology on the Hanford site. But the Department of Health is already the site radiation control agency, and most of the waste stored at U.S. Ecology is medical waste from around the state, so the goal of the bill is to shift management from joint administration to sole management by the Department of Health.
"This bill is basically going to streamline the process and administration by placing authority to renew the leases, manage maintenance, under the same department that regulates the site," said Senator Sharon Brown.
The Department of Health currently does the licensing for low-level radioactive waste, and if the bill passes, Health will start overseeing the Northwest Interstate Compact.
If this bill passes, the Department of Ecology will retain some involvement - still investigating legacy toxic chemical waste from decades ago - in an attempt to find out what the long-term environmental impact has been.