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SATURDAY, JAN. 7, 2017

New problem arises at Hanford

The following abridged versions of editorials do not necessarily reflect the view of The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board.

Walla-Walla Union Bulletin

This week the Tri-City Herald reported that radioactive contamination is spreading within one of Hanford’s processing plants, and the situation could grow worse as the plant – unused since the 1960s – continues to deteriorate.

A report on the Reduction-Oxidation Complex recommends $181 million be spent on interim cleanup and maintenance of the plant, according to the Herald. The plant, referred to as REDOX, is not scheduled to be demolished until about 2032, or possibly later, because the nearby 222-S Laboratory will be needed for another 30 to 40 years to support the Hanford vitrification plant, which is where radioactive material is turned into inert glass logs.

The concern is that contamination could be spread outside the REDOX building by animals, a break in a utility pipe or a fire.

This is serious matter. So, too, is the 56 million gallons of radioactive nuclear waste stored in tanks. Sixty-seven of the tanks have confirmed leaks, and they are buried relatively close to the Columbia River. If – or, perhaps, when – that material leaches into the Columbia it will be a national disaster.

The millions needed to stop the spread of contamination of REDOX must be spent immediately.

Moving forward, Congress and President-elect Trump must view the cleanup as a real priority, with specific dates established to meet targets. And they must stick to the plan.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ambush-style slayings in Dallas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, were responsible for a significant and unsettling increase in the number of law-enforcement officers who died in the line of duty last year. Through Dec. 28, the number of fallen totaled 135, up 10 percent from 2015. The statistics are a sobering reminder of the need this new year to work on police-community relations so that the streets are safer for everyone.

The names of those lost, along with a summary of their deaths and tributes from friends and family, are available at nleomf.org, the website of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The list includes deaths from various causes, including traffic accidents or heart attacks while on duty, but especially striking is the increase in the number of officers shot to death on the job. That number – 64 – marked a 56 percent increase over 2015. The number of those killed in ambush-style attacks – 21 – was the highest in more than 20 years and the incidents in which multiple officers were killed – eight, claiming 20 lives – represented one of the worst streaks since 1932.

The families of the fallen officers begin the new year with loss still weighing heavily on their hearts. It is a pain no one should have to bear, and their grief is a reason to work harder for peace in 2017.



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