The U.S. House is proposing spending more money next fiscal year at Hanford than requested by the Trump administration, including paying for a tank waste demonstration project.
Supporters of a proposal to encapsulate some waste in concrete-like grout rather than treating it at the site’s vitrification plant could save billions of dollars.
The House Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to send a spending proposal to the full House that includes $2.3 billion for the Hanford nuclear reservation in fiscal 2019. Money for safeguards and security will be added to that total.
It is nearly $247 million more than the administration’s request to Congress in February, according to information from the staff of Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.
“As this bill moves to the entire House, I will continue advocating for the federal government to fulfill its obligation to the people of Central Washington to complete this cleanup job while ensuring safety for workers,” Newhouse said.
Spending would be lower than the current Hanford nuclear reservation budget. In March, the U.S. House and Senate approved a spending bill for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1, 2017, of about $2.4 billion.
The administration’s request for fiscal 2019 included increases at some Department of Energy environmental cleanup sites.
But the increases were at the expense of important cleanup activities at Hanford, the Idaho Site and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the House bill report said.
“The committee’s recommendation continues to fund a balanced approach that sustains the momentum of ongoing cleanup activities more consistently across all DOE cleanup site,” the bill report said.
The House budget would add about $42 million to the amount requested by the Trump administration for the next fiscal year for the Office of River Protection for a total budget of almost $1.5 billion.
The Hanford office is responsible for the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks and the $17 billion vitrification plant being built to glassify the waste. It is left from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
The House budget for the Richland Operations Office, which is responsible for all other environmental cleanup at Hanford and operating the site, would be $863 million. That’s $205 million more than requested by the Trump administration.
The total does not include safeguards and security spending, which was not available on Wednesday.
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