12-12-2017  12:03 pm      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

Joint Office of Homeless Services Announces Severe Weather Strategy

Those seeking shelter should call 211 or visit 211.org. Neighbors needed to volunteer, donate cold-weather apparel ...

Q&A with Facebook's Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams

A conversation on diversity and the tech industry ...

City Announces Laura John as Tribal Liason

Laura John brings an extensive background in tribal advocacy and community engagement to the city of Portland ...

Humboldt Sewer Repair Project Update: Dec. 4

Environmental Services continues to repair more than 3 miles of public sewer pipes ...

'Santaland' on Display at Oregon Historical Society

New exhibit features Santa’s throne, Rudolph, and elves from original Meier and Frank’s Santaland ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Payday Lenders Continue Attack on Consumer Protections

Charlene Crowell of the Center for Responsible Lending writes that two bills that favor predatory lenders has received bipartisan...

Hundreds Rallied for Meek Mill, but What About the Rest?

Lynette Monroe, a guest columnist for the NNPA Newswire, talks about Meek Mill, the shady judge that locked him up and mass...

Top 10 Holiday Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet

Dr. Jasmine Streeter explains why pampering pets with holiday treats can be dangerous (and pricey) ...

Why We Need More Black Men in Early Childhood Education

Royston Maxwell Lyttle discusses the importance of Black male teachers in early childhood education for the NNPA ESSA Media Campaign ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Environmental safety manager demonstrates protective clothing
The Associated Press

PHOTO: This July 9, 2014, file photo shows Bob Wilkinson, right, an environmental safety manager for the contractor Washington River Protection Solutions, demonstrating protective and clothing and a scuba-type tank-and-mask breathing apparatus used by workers in areas with potential exposure to possibly harmful vapors during a media tour of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is fining another federal agency up to $10,000 for each week it fails to start moving radioactive sludge away from the Columbia River at the most contaminated nuclear site in the U.S. The Tri-Party Agreement required the U.S. Department of Energy to begin removing sludge from a storage basin at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is fining another federal agency up to $10,000 for each week it fails to start moving radioactive sludge away from the Columbia River at the most contaminated nuclear site in the U.S.

The Tri-Party Agreement required the U.S. Department of Energy to begin removing sludge from a storage basin at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation by Sept. 30. The Tri-City Herald reported that the Energy Department has missed that deadline, and it is proposing an extension to an undetermined date.

The EPA on Tuesday denied the extension and began assessing fines. The fine for the first week is $5,000, increasing to $10,000 for each additional week that the Energy Department fails to start removing sludge.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and it is now engaged in cleaning up the nation's largest collection of radioactive wastes.

The Energy Department has 15 days to start efforts to resolve the dispute, and 30 days to submit a written statement if it disputes the EPA's denial of its proposal to set new deadlines.

The Energy Department said insufficient federal funding in fiscal 2013 and 2014 is to blame for the missed deadline. But the EPA questioned why the Energy Department had not proposed an extension until the deadline date, rather than when budgets were set in previous years.

The EPA already has extended deadlines for sludge removal numerous times, said the letter signed by Dennis Faulk, the EPA's Hanford program manager. The deadline for having all the sludge out of the K West Basin originally was 2002, and that has been extended 13 years, the letter said.

EPA denied the extension request because the Energy Department failed to say how long the extension would be, failed to identify related timetables or schedules that would be affected, and did not show good cause for the extension, the letter said.

"EPA has consistently made clear to DOE EPA's expectation that sludge removal work be funded and proceed," the letter said. "EPA has identified sludge removal as one of the highest Hanford cleanup priorities."

The basins attached to Hanford's K East and K West reactors were used to store irradiated nuclear fuel left over when much of the effort to remove weapons-grade plutonium stopped near the end of the Cold War.

As the fuel corroded underwater, it combined with dirt and bits of concrete from the pools to form a highly radioactive sludge.

The last of the 2,300 tons of fuel was removed from the basins in 2004. Since then workers have been dealing with the radioactive sludge that remains.

The next step is to get it out of the K West Basin and moved away from the river until it can be treated for disposal.

The Energy Department has spent $139 million to date on the sludge, with about $308 million total estimated to be required to get the sludge retrieved and treated for disposal.

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