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Hanford Budget Could Slow Cleanup

Layoffs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation may be fewer than expected, but a reduced budget could slow cleanup of the site’s nuclear wastes.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Richland office recently finished divvying up the $1.093 billion budget for fiscal 1998.

The 2 percent drop from the $1.115 billion budget for fiscal 1997 is expected to slow the pumping of radioactive wastes out of Hanford’s single-shell tanks. It also may jeopardize some Tri-Party Agreement milestones. That agreement between the state and federal governments sets deadlines for cleaning up the nation’s largest collection of nuclear waste.

The budget is $36 million short of what the Energy Department’s Richland office believes is needed to meet its Tri-Party Agreement obligations for fiscal 1998 at the tank farms.

Bechtel Hanford Inc. plans to lay off between 130 and 150 people by September, which is less than the original worst-case scenario of 220.

Officials at Fluor Daniel Hanford still were trying to determine Wednesday whether the final budget would affect the company’s work force, the largest at Hanford.



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