SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER Gregoire threatens to sue over Hanford Attorney general says U.S. is budgeting too little money for cleanup of tank waste Wednesday, April 11, 2001 By LINDA ASHTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS YAKIMA -- Washington state is dissatisfied with the amount of money budgeted for cleaning up deadly tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and is threatening to sue if key project deadlines are missed. The proposed 2002 budget for the U.S. Energy Department's Office of River Protection -- which manages the tank farms -- is $814.5 million, up from $757 million this year, Cheryl Reid, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office, said yesterday. But she said $1.1 billion is needed in 2002 to fully fund the contract with Bechtel-Washington, which is to design and build a glassification plant to treat 10 percent of the nearly 54 million gallons of highly radioactive waste in the tanks. "The Department of Energy's proposed budget falls short of the amount needed to keep the Hanford tank-waste cleanup on track," Attorney General Christine Gregoire said. "If approved, this budget could leave the state with no choice but to engage in lengthy and expensive litigation over DOE's missed cleanup deadlines." Joe Davis, an Energy Department spokesman in Washington, D.C., said Secretary Spencer Abraham considers cleaning up Hanford tank waste a "critical need." Consequently, extra money was added to the Office of River Protection budget this year. But Reid said the extra funding is not only insufficient, but it came from other parts of the Energy Department's budget for Hanford. Overall, the Richland operations budget, which includes everything at Hanford except the Office of River Protection, lost money, dropping from $698.2 million budgeted this year to $584.2 million budgeted for 2002. "The impacts of the Bush budget priorities are unconscionable, as nuclear contamination spreads into the Columbia River," said Gerald Pollet, director of Heart of America Northwest, a Hanford watchdog group in Seattle. Sixty-seven of the 177 underground tanks have leaked more than 1 million gallons over the years, contaminating ground water and threatening the Columbia River. 1998-2001 Seattle Post-Intelligencer