Urban Politics #74: Restaring Hanford Nuclear Reactor


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

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Restaring Hanford Nuclear Reactor

This Monday (10/18/99) I will be introducing a Resolution at the Full City Council Meeting urging the United States Secretary of Energy to halt efforts to restart the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) nuclear reactor and the proposed Plutonium processing at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. I have 5 other co-sponsors on the resolution so I expect it to pass.

The sponsors of this legislation oppose the startup of new nuclear missions or facilities at Hanford, which would contribute additional radioactive or hazardous wastes, until the site is in full compliance with state and federal environmental laws and the threat of contamination from Hanford wastes to the Columbia River is eliminated.

Restarting the FFTF would signal a reversal in Hanford’s primary mission to shutdown and cleanup its nuclear waste as required by the 1995 Hanford Clean-Up Agreement.

The FFTF nuclear plant has been kept on hot standby for the last several years. That status has already diverted more than one million dollars from the cleanup effort, which is $200 million dollars short of its cleanup budget.

Two-thirds of the nation’s waste sits in the underground tanks at Hanford. One-third of those tanks has leaked more than one million gallons of radioactive waste into the soil and the groundwater that would flow into the Columbia River. The water from the Columbia River irrigates agricultural fields for food production, much of which is consumed by Seattle Citizens. The seizure of contaminated agricultural products and milk sometime in the future is not an inconceivable possibility if the leakage proves to be significant.

The City urges the Federal Government to allocate the funds saved from shutting down the FTTC reactor for protecting our region’s public health and environment through cleanup of Hanford’s nuclear legacy – as guaranteed in the Hanford Clean-Up Agreement.

Starting up the FFTF reactor would also expose our citizens to the importation of Plutonium fuel through Puget Sound or the Port of Seattle. The City of Seattle had previously opposed (Resolution #28848, December, 1993) the import of spent nuclear fuel through our Port due to the extremely high risk of shipboard fire. Plutonium fuel is a similar hazardous material that poses a similar risk.

Consequently this legislation also opposes the import of spent nuclear fuel or materials with similar high-risk properties – such as Plutonium fuel proposed for operation of the FFTF reactor – through the Port of Seattle or Puget Sound.

DOE Public Hearing

This Monday evening (10/18/99) at 7:00 PM the United States Department of Energy (DOE) will hold a Public Hearing on the scope of its Environmental Impact Statement on the restart of the FFTF reactor. The Public Hearing will be held at Seattle Center’s Northwest Rooms, Rainier Room.

The Resolution urges Seattle residents to make their views known at this and other public hearings, and urges the U.S. Department of Energy to respond to these views.

Keep in touch…

 

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