Hanford could see $100 million budget cut

Hanford could see $100 million budget cut »Play Video
RICHLAND, Wash. -- It seems like a never-ending process to get nuclear waste cleaned up at the Hanford site. But in order to keep cleaning, we rely on federal dollars. The Obama administration released their proposed Hanford cleanup budget for the 2015 fiscal year Tuesday - and it's a sizable cut. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Doc Hastings are not happy with the amount. KEPR looked into how the decrease will affect the cleanup and the Tri-Cities' economy.

With nuclear waste cleanup 50 years in the making, it's not a cheap job. So, the possibility that Hanford could receive almost $100 million less for the 2015 fiscal year is shocking to people close to the project.

"This is the biggest reduction of any of the sites, so we took the big hit this time," said Gary Petersen, TRIDEC's Vice President of Federal Programs.

Rep. Doc Hastings has put a lot of time and effort into Hanford cleanup. He released a statement Tuesday, angry about the cut.

"Any way you slice it, cleanup would undoubtedly be impacted by a cut of this magnitude to the Richland Operations Office," said Hastings.

The Office of River Protections, which funds tank farm activities and the waste treatment plant, is actually projected to get about $25 million more than in the 2014 fiscal year. But the Richland Operations Office, which funds cleanup for the Columbia River corridor and the plutonium finishing plant, is estimated to take a big hit. Sen. Patty Murray doesn't see how we can meet the state mandate without enough money. She released a statement Tuesday.

"I will be asking the Administration...whether this proposal will allow the federal government to meet its legal obligations to fund ongoing cleanup work at Hanford," said Murray.

TRIDEC's Gary Petersen says that's exactly the problem.

"When you reduce $100 million, $98 million to be specific, out of the budget, it means for certain, you're gonna miss some of these milestones," said Petersen.

As far as an impact on our economy, Petersen says we should still be OK because the amount of federal money circulating in a community our size is $3 billion.

"The economy is gonna be pretty stable. That's not a huge ripple. What it really impacts, though, is the milestones," said Petersen.

KEPR checked in with the Department of Energy to get their opinion on the proposed budget. They responded, "The Fiscal Year 2015 President's budget request provides the resources the Office of River Protection needs to continue making progress on its cleanup activities."