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The Environmental Protection Agency fined the Department of Energy $75,000 over delays in cleaning up Hanford’s leak-prone K East Basin.

It is the Energy Department’s third fine in five years for missing deadlines for cleaning up the K Basins in violation of the legally binding Tri-Party Agreement.

While work began last week to drain water from the radioactively contaminated K East Basin, the Energy Department had a March 31, 2007, deadline to have the basin emptied and removed from the ground and an April 30 deadline to start digging up the contaminated soil beneath the basin.

The fine reflects not only those two missed deadlines, but also the EPA’s concern that the remainder of the schedule for the cleanup project is in jeopardy, said Nick Ceto, EPA Hanford program manager.

As work falls behind schedule to remove the K East Basin and treat the radioactive sludge now consolidated and stored in the nearby K West Basin, the EPA is concerned that the completion of cleanup of the Hanford corridor along the Columbia River will be delayed.

Hanford cleanup plans call for cleaning up the land along the river to shrink the contaminated area of the site to 75 square miles in central Hanford.

In connection with the fine, the EPA has extended the two missed deadlines and is requiring the Energy Department to come up with a credible schedule for the rest of the cleanup work connected to the K East and K West reactors.

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