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Thursday, May 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Doubts raised that massive Hanford plant could open by 2022

UPDATED: Fri., March 30, 2018

In this file June 13, 2017 photo, the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant, right, stands adjacent to a dirt-covered rail tunnel, left, containing radioactive waste, amidst desert plants on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash. (Nicholas K. Geranios / Associated Press)
In this file June 13, 2017 photo, the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant, right, stands adjacent to a dirt-covered rail tunnel, left, containing radioactive waste, amidst desert plants on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash. (Nicholas K. Geranios / Associated Press)
Associated Press

RICHLAND – The U.S. Department of Energy has doubts that a massive nuclear waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation can open by a 2022 deadline.

But the agency has not notified the state of Washington that legal deadlines for the project are at risk.

Instead, the Tri-City Herald reported the agency has directed contractor Bechtel National to improve its performance.

Bechtel is building the $17 billion plant intended to turn liquid nuclear wastes into glass-like logs for burial. The project has been plagued by safety and design issues.

Hanford is located near Richland and for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons. The site contains a huge volume of radioactive wastes.

Bechtel’s contract requires it to start treating radioactive waste by 2022. Construction on the plant started in 2002.

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