Federal Judge Strikes Down Initiative 297 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Federal Judge Strikes Down Initiative 297

YAKIMA, Wash. - A federal judge has struck down I-297, the initiative that kept additional radioactive waste from being sent to Hanford.

U.S. District Judge Alan Mcdonald in Yakima ruled voter-approved Initiative 297 violates the government's authority over nuclear waste.  Washington voters approved Initiative 297 in 2004.  The initiative barred the government from sending any more waste to Hanford until all existing waste is cleaned up.  The government sued, arguing the initiative violates its authority over nuclear waste under the Atomic Energy Act as well as its authority over interstate commerce.

The judge said voter concerns over dangerous wastes at Hanford are legitimate.  But, he said Congress has given the government authority to deal with issues of nuclear safety.

TRIDEC members said the ruling will actually help with clean up.

"It really does protect the Tri-Party Agreement, something the state, DOE and the EPA have used as a map for Hanford clean-up," said TRIDEC president Carl Adrian.

Heart of America sponsored the initiative.  They said they expected the measure to go to court and that it will be upheld on appeal. 

Initiative 297 was passed by a record 1.8 million Washington voters in November 2004, but has not been implemented because of the court challenge.