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Rising costs of nuclear cleanup can’t slow progress via Union-Bulletin.com

The nuclear waste is at Hanford because of national security efforts and it is a national responsibility to clean it up.

Cleaning up the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste buried in leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear reservation, which is bordered to the north and east by the Columbia River and southeast by the Tri-Cities, will be more difficult than estimated — and a lot more expensive.

The new estimate from the U.S. Department of Energy for environmental cleanup costs at the former nuclear weapons production site has increased by $82 billion. Yes, increased. The total estimate of the total cleanup costs is now a whopping $242 billion, which is enough cash to build 18 $13 billion-plus state-of-the art aircraft carriers for the U.S. Navy. This cost includes retrieving waste from tanks, closing or disposing of tanks and finishing building the plant that will turn the radioactive liquid into inert glass that can then be disposed.

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Beyond that, the cleanup project at Hanford has been running 25 years behind schedule. The billions of dollars promised by Congress flow to the Hanford project like molasses.

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The nuclear waste stored near Richland — about 70 percent of all of the nation’s nuclear waste — was created to make the atomic bombs dropped on Japan to end World War II. The creation of nuclear waste continued during the Cold War. This deadly waste is at Hanford because of national security efforts.

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