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EPA draft report criticize Washington State on oversight of Hanford nuclear site.

A draft report by the Environmental Protection Agency criticizes the Washington state Department of Ecology (Ecology) regarding the state's oversight of federal water and air pollution laws, including at the Hanford nuclear site.

Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge, which released the 196-page draft, said the report confirmed some of group's concerns regarding problems at the site.

The EPA report covers the state's compliance with clean air, clean water and hazardous waste laws and includes criticisms of how Ecology has overseen the Hanford site.

EPA listed inspection by Ecology of at least half of the permitted treatment, storage at disposal facilities at Hanford each year as a "top priority" issue.

The report cites an agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the state that the Ecology would provide "prior written notice of inspection plans," including which units and areas would be inspected.

EPA said that "created at least one instance when Ecology inspectors had to return to their office, write a notice to (DOE), and later return to the area where they had earlier observed a potential violation in order to complete the compliance evaluation."

The notification provision "significantly inhibits Ecology's ability to complete inspections which cover the entire facility and to make accurate and timely compliance determinations," EPA commented.

"Personnel inspecting the Hanford facility will be required to give no more advance notice to (DOE) than inspectors give to other facilities in the state," EPA said.

The state responded that its inspectors are free to pursue violations that are not in the scope of a notified inspection, and said the incident cited by EPA was due to a one-time interpretation by a DOE employee which has been corrected.

The report also commented that the state had two inspectors for nuclear waste with responsibility for four facilities including Hanford.

The state planned to increase the number of inspectors to four.

Carpenter hailed the increase in inspectors but said Hanford Challenged remains concerned that the state needs more of "an arm's-length relationship" with Hanford.

Over the past two years there has been only one enforcement action at Hanford while Ecology filed more than 1,000 enforcement actions against other polluters in the state, Carpenter said.

Source: News reports

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Publication:Nuclear Waste News
Date:Jul 2, 2013
Words:371
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