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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lawmaker aims to exempt some companies from Hanford initiative

Associated Press

RICHLAND – A state lawmaker plans to offer legislation that would exempt medical and other research businesses from restrictions in an initiative that seeks to restrict nuclear-waste imports at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Initiative 297, overwhelmingly approved by Washington state voters last fall, bars the U.S. Department of Energy from sending any out-of-state nuclear waste to Hanford until all existing waste there is cleaned up.

The measure took effect Dec. 1. The Energy Department immediately began taking action to halt some cleanup projects at Hanford, as well as research involving radioactive material at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a national Energy Department science laboratory.

The Energy Department’s order also affected cancer research and environmental remediation programs, among others, and production of a new radioactive seed – intended to treat prostate cancer – by a Richland company. Part of the seed production takes places at the national lab under a contract with the Energy Department and the lab.

A federal judge has ordered a temporary halt to enforcement of the initiative. Meanwhile, Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, says he is pursuing legislation to address unforeseen consequences of the measure.

“The intent of the initiative was not to affect cancer research,” Delvin said Tuesday.

The company, IsoRay Medical, had planned to build a production facility near Richland by next fall and increase its work force from 16 employees to about 250.

Now IsoRay officials say Initiative 297 may force them to relocate.