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Bob Dellwo, former councilman, dies

Bob Dellwo’s record of public service was long, colorful and varied. He spied on Soviet spies during World War II, ran for Congress in the 1950s, served as a Spokane park board member and city councilman in the 1980s and a plan commissioner and freeholder in the 1990s.

But Dellwo, who died Tuesday at 97, was known for other things in other circles, too. He was a champion for Native American rights for decades, serving as attorney for several Northwest tribes.

A runner long before it became chic or even common, he built a reputation as Spokane’s fastest senior citizen, winning his age category in Bloomsday for many years and holding records in the senior category for national competitions. Among them was being the oldest man to run a mile in under five minutes, his son Dennis Dellwo said.

Born in Poulson, Montana, in 1917, Dellwo came to Spokane to attend Gonzaga, graduating from the university in 1940 and Gonzaga Law School in 1942. Accepted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation right after finishing law school, he was stationed first in Washington, D.C., and later Denver and Portland.

One of his jobs during World War II was tracking Soviet spies who were sent to Portland under the guise of securing war supplies from U.S. allies. The FBI knew that some of the Soviet delegation had backgrounds in chemistry and physics, and they were sent to get information on activities at Hanford. Dellwo bugged their apartments, meeting rooms and cars; he posed as a telephone repairman to bug the offices of the Communist Party in Portland.

He also posed as an engineer for the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, and took some Soviets on a tour of Eastern Washington, but kept them well away from Hanford, Dellwo told The Spokesman-Review in a 1995 story, shortly after details of that World War II spy program were declassified. When they asked what was going on at Hanford, “we told them it has to do with hydroelectric power,” he recalled.

After leaving the FBI in 1948, Dellwo settled in Spokane, where he and his wife Madeline raised eight children. The Spokane County Democratic chairman, he ran against Rep. Walt Horan, the long-time Republican incumbent, in 1950 and 1952. He built a law practice that involved government law and representing tribes like the Coeur d’Alenes.

 “He was instrumental in fighting for the sovereignty of the tribe,” Ernie Stensgar, Coeur d’Alene tribal chairman, said in a 2004 ceremony at GU Law School.

He was appointed to the city Park Board in 1983 and the City Council in 1986 to fill the vacancy created when Vicki McNeill was elected mayor. He was elected to the seat in 1987. Politics ran in his family: his father was the House speaker in Montana, his son Dennis served in Washington’s House of Representatives.

After losing his council seat in 1991, Dellwo stayed active in local civic affairs, serving on the city Plan Commission and later winning a seat as a freeholder in an effort to write a new county charter. And he continued to run, in Bloomsday, of which he was an early supporter, and in other competitions.

He’d slowed and become frail with age in recent years, Dennis Dellwo said, “but he hadn’t been sick at all.”

On Monday night he went out to dinner with his wife and some family members at one of their favorite restaurants, Linnies, formerly The Shack, on Third Avenue. “He went to bed and didn’t wake up,” Dennis Dellwo said. “He looked so content.”

Bob Dellwo is survived by his wife Madeline, four sons and four daughters and numerous grandchildren. Services are pending.

State, feds nix each others Hanford plans

OLYMPIA — Washington rejected the U.S. Energy Department's latest plan for the cleanup of leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The federal government, in turn, rejected the state's counter offer, setting up the prospect that they could be headed back to court with their long-running dispute over one of the nation's biggest nuclear cleanups. . . 

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WA to US: Hanford plan’s a no-go

OLYMPIA — Washington is rejecting the U.S. Energy Department's latest plan for the cleanup of leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

In a letter today to the Justice Department, Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the proposal DOE made last moth to amend the 2010 plan on cleaning up the waste is too vague. The Energy Department has fallen behind on its timetable to clean up waste left over from years of production for the nation's nuclear weapons, and came up with a revision.

"Energy's proposal lacks sufficient specificity, accountability and enforceability," Inslee said. 

The state has its own plan, which it considers more specific. If DOE rejects Washington's plan — which could happen later today — the state could go to "dispute resolution," which involves a 40-day period of negotiations. If there's no agreement there, the state could go to federal court and ask a judge to order the department to use the state's plan.

Inslee to Energy Dept: Time’s up on Hanford delays

OLYMPIA – Northwest residents need more than vague plans and missed deadlines for the cleanup of nuclear waste at Hanford, Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday.

If the federal government doesn’t come up with a more specific plan or agree to one proposed by the state over the next two months, Washington will go back to court to try to force the U.S. Department of Energy to act. . . 

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Inslee hints at state action over Hanford cleanup

OLYMPIA – The federal government's latest plan to cleanup nuclear waste at Hanford is short on details and the state is considering its options to force a better one, Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday. . . 

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Murray questions OMB head about Hanford cuts

WASHINGTON - Sen. Patty Murray continued her criticism of President Obama's proposed cuts for cleanup of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, taking his budget director to task at a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee which she leads.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Office of Management and Budget director, defended the proposed Hanford cuts, as well as the rest of the president's budget, during this morning's hearing.

"A number of those programs are for pieces of work that have been completed," Burwell said. "The administration is committed to make the progress we need at Hanford."

Murray wasn't convinced: "Yeah, well we have really serious challenges in making progress at these nuclear clean up sites across the country," she said. "We need a long term, sustainable plan for this."

The Department of Energy said Tuesday it has made significant progress at the site and has shrunk the size of the cleanup area. As a result, the department plans to shift money to other cleanup sites.

In January, Congress approved $2.15 billion for cleanup at the nuclear weapons facility. Obama's budget has $2.083 billion.

Court to Obama: Follow the law on waste repository

The federal government must resume work on the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada that would store the high-level nuclear waste from Hanford and other sites around the country, a federal appeals court said today.
In what amounts to a judicial smackdown of the Obama administration, the court said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Obama administration can't override Congress, which ordered the repository built in 2002.
Washington state, which is the home to an estimated 56 million gallons of highly toxic nuclear waste from the production of nuclear warheads at Hanford, had joined the lawsuit against the commission. Along with South Carolina and some residents of the Tri-Cities, Washington sought a writ of mandamus, or order from the court for the federal government to follow the law.  Today they got what they wanted …

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Sunday Spin: Helping to understand Hanford

OLYMPIA –As most of official Olympia repeatedly hit the “refresh” button Thursday morning on their computers to catch the state Supremes’ decision on tax supermajorities as soon as possible, a handful of legislators got a briefing on something with the potential for far more impact to the state.

Jane Hedges of the state Department of Ecology explained the intricacies of nuclear waste tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, doing her best to calm the uproar over recent news that six of the supposedly stable tanks are, in fact, leaking.

Trying to explain most things at Hanford to laypersons can be a Herculean task. . .

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Come on by

Sen. Patty Murray wants the nation’s new energy czar to come West for a visit.

A visit to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, that is. At a budget hearing Wednesday, Murray, D-Wash., extended the invite to Energy Secretary Steven Chu to stop by Hanford and the Pacific Northwest Nuclear Labs at his earliest convenience.

Chu didn’t exactly whip out his Day Planner and write something in, as the audio clip shows. He allowed as how he’s planning on coming out to Washington at some point.

With a stop at Hanford and PNNL? Murray pressed.

“We haven’t made those plans,” Chu replied.

“We’ll help you plan,” she said, helpfully.

Let’s see, that planning should probably include . . .