Report: DOE wasting cleanup money
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NOVEMBER 2, 2000

A day after tribal leaders in the Northwest questioned cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington, a House report is criticizing spending at the agency.

A report released on Wednesday accuses the DOE of wasting millions of dollars in developing technology to clean up nuclear waste sites throughout the country. The report was presented by Republican members of the House Committee on Commerce.

In recent weeks, Republican committee members have been critical of the energy policies of the Clinton / Gore administration. But their report focuses on a program created by Congress in 1989.

The Science and Technology program of the Office of Environmental Management is charged with developing cleanup technologies. The House report says many of these technologies, however, aren't being used.

At the Hanford site, for instance, the report says none of the technologies developed to clean 177 tanks of toxic waste have been effective.

The Hanford site was established in 1943 and produced plutonium for nuclear weapons. It was built on land used by several tribes in the area up until its creation.

Today, four tribes -- the Confederated Umatilla Tribes, the Nez Perce, the Yakama Nation, and the Wanapum, a non-federally recognized tribe -- are involved in various efforts at the site, from protection of cultural resources to clean up.

While in Washington on Tuesday, Secretary Bill Richardson presented a revised government-to-government policy of the DOE. But some tribal leaders said they wanted to see how Richardson would apply it at Hanford before believing in it.

Russell Jim, manager of the Environmental Restoration and Waste Management program of the Yakama Nation, said the tribe proposed an agreement with the DOE to protect cultural resources and treaty rights. He said it was met with resistance, however.

The DOE recently implemented an agreement regarding the cleanup of a uranium waste site in Utah. The Northern Ute Tribe has agreed to help fund the cleanup effort, which will be overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Related Stories:
Land returned to Ute Tribe (Tribal Law 11/1)
DOE revises tribal policies (Enviro 11/1)

Relevant Links:
Revised tribal policy, Department of Energy -
Indian Nations Program, Hanford Site -
Cultural and Historic Resource Pogram, Hanford Site -
Tribal Nations Involvement, Office of Environmental Management -